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A Tennessee Riverpark sign hangs from the fence alongside West Ninth Street, which currently leads to the Blue Goose Hallow trailhead, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn. An expansion is planned for M.L. King Boulevard that will cross Riverfront Parkway to the Blue Goose Hallow trailhead, which will take the place of West Ninth Street.

This story was updated March 7, 2018, at 11:25 p.m. with more information.

Hamilton County commissioners on Wednesday approved a property tax incentive for the M.L. King Boulevard extension that will form a $3.5 million gateway to the Tennessee River at Cameron Harbor.

The county joined the city to grant tax increment financing to

Hamilton County commissioners on Wednesday approved a property tax incentive for the M.L. King Boulevard extension that will form a $3.5 million gateway to the Tennessee River at Cameron Harbor.

The county joined the city to grant tax increment financing to extend M.L. King across Riverfront Parkway and create a dramatic entryway to the Blue Goose Hollow trailhead on the Tennessee Riverwalk.

The developer, Evergreen Real Estate, will be able to use a share of property tax money from four properties to pay off a construction loan for the road. The total cost, including interest, is expected to be around $5.2 million.

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Mayor Jim Coppinger said the M.L. King extension has been in the Riverwalk plans from the beginning and will be yet another amenity for the revitalized downtown area.

Commissioners all voted for the tax increment financing, but not before questioning its cost. Several commissioners had asked for information on how much property tax revenue the county would lose if 43 apartments planned for the space the road will occupy aren't developed. They also questioned how the project would affect the value of surrounding properties outside the TIF area.

Charles Wood, vice president for economic development with the Greater Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, said the total tax revenue lost by not building the apartments is between $46,000 and $51,000 a year. The county's share of that would be 45 percent.

However, he said, building the splashy entryway to one of the top-rated amenities in the city is expected to cause land values across Riverfront Parkway along M.L. King to shoot up. Wood said tax collections on surrounding properties could total $400,000 a year after the road is built.

"So the bottom line is, we're $350,000 to the good?" Commissioner Sabrena Smedley asked.

Yes, that's about it, Wood said.

"I see [property assessor] Marty Haynes back there licking his chops already," joked Commissioner Jim Fields.

Commissioners Joe Graham and Greg Martin were annoyed they only were given Wood's memo answering their revenue questions at the meeting, and wondered why the county couldn't just pay its part in cash and be done with it.

Mayor Jim Coppinger said Wood had sent the memo to him but suggested the commissioners take a 15-minute break if they wanted to study what they were given. He explained that the road site isn't for sale and the tax incentive is the vehicle for getting the road built, which is everyone's goal.

The mayor talked about how important the Riverwalk is to the community, as well as its value as a business recruitment tool. He reminded commissioners of the 30-year public-private partnership that got the project moving. The most recent segment was a $14 million project, he said, with $3.6 million coming from donors such as BlueCross- BlueShield of Tennessee, the Benwood, Lyndhurst, Community and Footprint foundations, and many more charities and private donors.

In the end, the vote was unanimous among commissioners present. Tim Boyd was absent.

The vote was the same to put up $250,000 as the county's share of the Fallen Five Memorial. The Chattanooga City Council voted Tuesday evening to approve its $250,000 share, and the remaining $250,000 is being raised in the private sector.

Commissioners also approved contracts with architects who will design the new schools and additions funded from this week's bond issue, and they voted to put $30,392 into construction of the Normal Park Lower School gymnasium project.

That vote drew an enthusiastic round of applause from Normal Park parents in the audience.

Contact staff writer Judy Walton at jwalton @timesfreepress.com or 423-767-6416.

 M.L. King across Riverfront Parkway and create a dramatic entryway to the Blue Goose Hollow trailhead on the Tennessee Riverwalk.

The developer, Evergreen Real Estate, will be able to use a share of property tax money from four properties to pay off a construction loan for the road. The total cost, including interest, is expected to be around $5.2 million.

Mayor Jim Coppinger said the M.L. King extension has been in the Riverwalk plans from the beginning and will be yet another amenity for the revitalized downtown area.

Commissioners all voted for the tax increment financing, but not before questioning its cost. Several commissioners had asked for information on how much property tax revenue the county would lose if 43 apartments planned for the space the road will occupy aren't developed. They also questioned how the project would affect the value of surrounding properties outside the TIF area.

Charles Wood, vice president for economic development with the Greater Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, said the total tax revenue lost by not building the apartments is between $46,000 and $51,000 a year. The county's share of that would be 45 percent.

However, he said, building the splashy entryway to one of the top-rated amenities in the city is expected to cause land values across Riverfront Parkway along M.L. King to shoot up. Wood said tax collections on surrounding properties could total $400,000 a year after the road is built.

"So the bottom line is, we're $350,000 to the good?" Commissioner Sabrena Smedley asked.

Yes, that's about it, Wood said.

"I see [property assessor] Marty Haynes back there licking his chops already," joked Commissioner Jim Fields.

Commissioners Joe Graham and Greg Martin were annoyed they only were given Wood's memo answering their revenue questions at the meeting, and wondered why the county couldn't just pay its part in cash and be done with it.

Mayor Jim Coppinger said Wood had sent the memo to him but suggested the commissioners take a 15-minute break if they wanted to study what they were given. He explained that the road site isn't for sale and the tax incentive is the vehicle for getting the road built, which is everyone's goal.

The mayor talked about how important the Riverwalk is to the community, as well as its value as a business recruitment tool. He reminded commissioners of the 30-year public-private partnership that got the project moving. The most recent segment was a $14 million project, he said, with $3.6 million coming from donors such as BlueCross- BlueShield of Tennessee, the Benwood, Lyndhurst, Community and Footprint foundations, and many more charities and private donors.

In the end, the vote was unanimous among commissioners present. Tim Boyd was absent.

The vote was the same to put up $250,000 as the county's share of the Fallen Five Memorial. The Chattanooga City Council voted Tuesday evening to approve its $250,000 share, and the remaining $250,000 is being raised in the private sector.

Commissioners also approved contracts with architects who will design the new schools and additions funded from this week's bond issue, and they voted to put $30,392 into construction of the Normal Park Lower School gymnasium project.

That vote drew an enthusiastic round of applause from Normal Park parents in the audience.

Contact staff writer Judy Walton at jwalton@timesfreepress.com or 423-767-6416.

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