Oakley Community Council won't support infrastructure funding plan for FC Cincinnati stadium

Unanimous vote comes day before Council action
Posted at 11:19 PM, Nov 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-27 09:22:12-05

CINCINNATI -- The Oakley Community Council voted unanimously Sunday night to reject a key provision of Mayor John Cranley's plan for the city to pay for $37 million worth of infrastructure to support an FC Cincinnati stadium in the neighborhood.

"Mayor Cranley's proposal requires the diverting of funds intended for economic development within the respective TIF districts," community council President Sean Fausto wrote, referring to tax-increment financing districts like Oakley. "The OCC Board believes that this proposal could be detrimental to the long-term development needs of Oakley. Current development projects within Oakley have requested access to these same funds, including one project co-sponsored by the city and the Oakley Community Council."

How does tax-incremented financing work?

When a developer builds on a property, the value goes up. The city takes the extra tax money from the increased value of the property and puts it toward paying off the related public infrastructure -- in a way, making the entire thing self-funded.

Cranley's plan hinges on $9.75 million from tax increment financing. The rest would come from money leftover from the sale of Blue Ash Airport and hotel taxes. 

The community council had voted Nov. 7 to support the vision for the stadium project, but Fausto wrote Cranley's proposal isn't what the neighborhood wants.

"(That vote) was not a green light for the City and FC Cincinnati to move forward, but rather was a yellow light to proceed subject to continuing discussion with the entire community," Fausto wrote.

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The Oakley vote comes as a likely wrench on the eve of a Cincinnati City Council vote on Cranley's financial proposal, which has also faced opposition from councilmembers such as P.G. Sittenfeld and Chris Seelbach.

Jeff Berding said earlier Sunday he felt "optimistic" about the vote.

"Something is going to go back there," Berding said of the proposed Oakley stadium site. "An office tower (or something) more residential. Those developments will require the streets to be widened and a parking garage to be built. Whether or not it's for FC or not, it will require public infrastructure improvements."

Fausto's statement -- and his council's vote -- suggest he believes there could be a better use of that space if TIF is the financing method required to put it there.

"There is passion both for and against the development of the stadium in Oakley," he wrote. "If Oakley is ultimately determined to be the location for the stadium, the OCC Board wants it to be developed in a way that would enhance what makes our neighborhood a desirable place to live, work, and play, with input from our residents and businesses."

Some Oakley residents were pleased by the decision --

-- but not all.