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City and waterpark negotiating page 2
Public will get to comment on Kalahari incentives in January

Date published: 11/23/2007


Tax incentives of various forms have been part of the process to lure similar waterpark projects to other areas. When Kalahari decided to build its second waterpark hotel in Sandusky, Ohio, in 2004, it had struck a deal with Erie County, Ohio, on what's called a tax-increment financing, or TIF agreement.

According to reports in the Toledo Business Journal, the Kalahari TIF deal called for $9.3 million of Kalahari's property taxes to be put into improvements of roads and utilities around the resort.

Great Wolf Resorts, which owns 10 waterpark hotels, including Williamsburg's Great Wolf Lodge, is building a 400-room resort in Concord, N.C., that should be complete in 2009.

To lure that project, Concord and Cabarrus County, in which the city lies, agreed to give Great Wolf a total of $4.1 million in tax incentives.

Concord approved a $1.5 million package that calls for the city to return $300,000 in taxes to Great Wolf each year for five years. Great Wolf is to spend that money on road improvements around the resort.

Cabarrus County added to that by approving a $2.6 million incentive grant.

Clay Andrews, business recruiter for the Cabarrus County Economic Development Corporation, said the county's incentive grant will be given over five years. It will literally be a rebate of 85 percent of the property taxes Great Wolf pays on what it adds to the value of the property it builds on.

Andrews said the county only uses incentives when it knows that a particular project is looking at sites in competing localities.

He said giving up some of the tax revenue as an incentive makes business sense because, "We felt like some piece of the pie was better than no piece of the pie."

Similarly, Fredericksburg Mayor Tom Tomzak said at last Friday's Kalahari announcement that "I'd rather have 75 percent of something than 100 percent of nothing."

Fredericksburg residents will get two chances to learn more about the Kalahari project coming here over the next two weeks.

Kalahari will hold public meetings to answer questions on Nov. 28 and Dec. 4. Both will take place at 7 p.m. at the Fredericksburg Expo and Convention Center.

Emily Battle: 540/374-5413
Email: ebattle@freelancestar.com

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