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Despite TIF, Costco store not done deal yet

By JACK WEATHERLY 

The game is not over for the proposed Costco Wholesale store in Ridgeland.

Plaintiffs are still trying to block the store, which they contend would disrupt traffic and devalue residential property in the vicinity.

A tax rebate of up to $30 million that apparently had been granted through a state program for what developers said was the third phase of the Renaissance at Colony Park mall was denied.

However, the city of Ridgeland approved the creation of a tax increment financing, or TIF, district, for the 45-acre plot south of the Old Agency Road roundabout to divert $12.5 million in tax money to go toward infrastructure.

The district awaits approval from the Madison County Board of Supervisors.

Yet, plaintiffs are still seeking a favorable ruling on a zoning change that, they contend, opened the door for the upscale discount store.

Challenging the amendment of the C-2 commercial ordinance “was just as important as the $30 million tax credit,” said Sheldon Alston, attorney for nine residents of the upscale neighborhoods in the phase three vicinity who filed a lawsuit in November 2015.

“The zoning allowed gas stations, fast-food restaurants and other things in the C-2 district . . . ,” Alston said in an interview. “Therefore, that amendment is what we’re attacking because we don’t want gas stations in that space, which just happened to mean that’s what Costco required to come in.” Costco stores, like Sam’s Clubs, have fueling stations.

“When you add something like that, you add lots of traffic . . . When you add that much drive-through stuff you change the dynamics of the development.”

The plaintiffs are not challenging the TIF district.

The lawsuit filed in November 2015 by nine residents of the upscale neighborhoods argued that lead developer Andrew Mattiace did not own the property for which he sought – and apparently got approval for sales tax reimbursement for up to 30 percent of the value of the $96.8 million project.

Then, the Mississippi Development Authority apparently refused a request from Mattiace to shift the credit from property it owned at 1000 North Highland Parkway to the third-phase location.

It appears that Mattiace asked in two letters to MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough to allow the certificate be shifted to the phase three property.

The Mississippi Business Journal requested to see those letters, referred to by McCullough in a Feb. 29, 2016 letter to Mattiace, but the agency said they were under an order issued earlier by Hinds County Chancery Judge William Singletary to protect proprietary information.

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