$66.5 million investment could net $300 million of growth over the next 10 years
By Polly Mikula
The town of Killington has drafted a plan to create a tax increment financing (TIF) district to provide transportation and municipal water infrastructure that will stimulate commercial and residential development and create new affordable housing in the town’s core.
But the town cannot afford this level of infrastructure investment for economic development with its own small tax base — to fund these investments would effectively double the town tax rate, which is too much for taxpayers to bear. Nor can developers justify the investement to get going. Therefore, the town is hoping to qualify as a TIF district.
One of the leading qualifications to becoming TIF district is showing that once the town removes public infrastructure obstacles, development is certain; conversely, without it, the obstacles to development are prohibitive.
“The transformative nature of TIF is the town’s best chance at addressing the interconnected issues inhibiting growth,” the draft proposal explains. “Through the investment of approximately $66.5 million in infrastructure over four phases, the town could see approximately $300 million of growth over the next 10 years. That is 39% growth of the grand list, compared to a net 2% decrease in growth over the last 10 years,” according to the draft, which stated that since 2011, the total grand list value has decreased from $8.1 million to $7.9 million.
The draft of a TIF District and Financing Plan was created by White + Burke Real Estate Advisors for the town of Killington and published on the town’s website Monday, Nov. 22. The draft plan with maps and charts is available at killingtontown.com.
White + Burke will present the draft proposal at a special Select Board meeting Monday, Nov. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Killington Public Safety Building (800 Killington Road) and via Zoom. The public is encouraged to attend. Masks are required for in-person attendance.
“This is the starting point of this process,” said Select Board member Jim Haff.
A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 4 at 6:30 p.m., also at the Killington Public Safety Building and via Zoom.
Village, development has languished over the decades
Anyone who’s lived in Killington for any length of time knows that many renditions of a “village” at the base of the resort have been proposed over the decades, but none built.
“Since the 1980s, plans to construct a ski village at the base of the Resort have been thwarted for a variety of reasons, primarily the significant initial infrastructure investment required to launch,” the draft plan explains.
Approval for a resort village was initially granted in 1980, then subsequent approvals were granted with 1984 and 1988.
In the late 1990s, a plan was again re-activated for a resort village and a significant land exchange with the state of Vermont was completed in order to make it a reality. Local, state, and federal approvals were obtained in 2000. However, in 2002 the owners at the time (American Ski Company) ran into economic issues — including recognition of infrastructure obstacles — causing those plans to also fall through.
In 2004, SP Land Company (SPLC) became the owners of a majority of the developable land in the proposed village area.
In 2009, SPLC submitted an application and received approval for the Village Master Plan.
In early 2012, SPLC submitted an Act 250 application for the Village Master Plan and Phase I of the Village Master Plan for development. After several appeals, SPLC received approval in late 2017. SPLC has maintained these and other permits to maintain the shovel-ready status for the improvements. However, the lack of basic municipal infrastructure has proved prohibitive, and SP Land has not been able to secure a developer, according to the draft plan.
In truth, the lack of development has been town-wide. No new hotels have been constructed during the past 25 years (with the exception of the Killington Grand Hotel constructed in 1998), most of the condominiums were built in the 1980s and most of the restaurants and retail shops along Killington Road were constructed more than 25 years ago.
“In fact, Killington Road in 2021 looks remarkably similar to Killington Road of 1990,” the draft plan stated.
The approved Phase I of Six Peaks Killington at the base of Killington Mountain includes the Six Peaks Village and Ramshead Brook Subdivision. In total, Phase I includes a replacement lodge for the Snowshed and Ramshead Lodges, 31,622 sq. ft. of commercial /retail spaces, 193 residential units in the Village Core, nine single-family lots, and 46 duplex units at the Ramshead Brook Subdivision. The plan also includes concepts for two affordable housing and workforce housing projects in the district that would help close the housing supply gap and support the future Six Peaks Killington development.
The TIF district financing will be structured so that the town will not incur any debt until the economic driver, Six Peaks Killington, is under construction. Agreements between the town and the developer will be established to protect the interests of the town, the draft states.