ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – We’ve seen the drawings, heard the hype and then waited.
For years the redevelopment of the old Winrock mall has been, for the most part, stuck in neutral. A new movie theater and some restaurants surrounding the outside of the shopping complex have sprung up, but visions of an open-air shopping experience with climbing walls, a hotel and more are still just plans.
But a quiet change lawmakers signed off on in the last hours before the 2014 session ended could solve one problem that’s slowed development efforts.
It all has to do with a tax increment development district, or TIDD, local and state lawmakers signed off on aimed at helping Winrock’s efforts by funneling more tax dollars into paying for public infrastructure improvements.
The Winrock TIDD works off of new or increased tax revenue the development generates. The deal set 2007 as the base year. Out of any tax revenues collected above that amount, a sizable share gets diverted to the TIDD to be invested in improving sewer lines, roads and building public parking.
It was expected to generate $164 million for those projects.
But when the economy collapsed, tax revenues fell below 2007 levels and have just now started to recover back to where they were at the time. Because there wasn’t any new money being generated, the TIDD didn’t get a cut of that revenue and the millions of dollars expected weren’t there.
“In November 2013, [the TIDD] generated $84,” said Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque.
So Ivey-Soto backed a bill allowing officials to change the deal. Instead of having the base year in 2007 before the economy collapsed, the new base year for the Winrock TIDD or any other TIDD could be changed to when the economy bottomed out.
It may seem small, but that one change would allow the TIDD to generate the millions in tax revenues that were expected when it was put into place.
Lawmakers approved the new law on the final day of the 30-day session last week. Gov. Susana Martinez still has to sign the proposal and the Board of Finance would have to approve any TIDD changes.
Darin Sand with the Goodman Realty Group, Winrock’s developer, says the fix could shave years of delays off of the redevelopment efforts and bring jobs to the city much sooner. Sand says construction on the south end of the property where the Winrock Inn used to stand could start later this year with the change. The plan is to build a parking structure and a number of stores there.
Both state and city officials are backing the adjustment.
“This change will save the project,” Ivey-Soto said. “Without this change, I don’t know if Winrock will ever be able to be redeveloped.”
“It’s hard to say what would actually become of the development,” said Gilbert Montano, Albuquerque Mayor R.J. Berry’s chief of staff. “The TIDD doesn’t succeed but for changing that year.”