A $50 million bond issue to fund public improvements around the planned Crossroads Village development is headed to the May primary ballot.
The Omaha City Council voted 7-0 Tuesday to approve a ballot issue on the general obligation bonds, which would help pay for streets, sidewalks and public transportation facilities.
It will join a separate, $92 million bond issue, which has already been approved for the May election. Those bonds are for work on city streets, parks, sewers and public facilities, along with public safety expenses.
The Crossroads Village bonds would be paid for with sales tax revenue generated within the $397 million development, near 72nd and Dodge Streets.
The project aims to transform the struggling Crossroads Mall into a bustling district that would include a hotel, offices, shops and potentially a library.
Developers Frank Krejci and Rod Yates have promised to back the bonds, maintaining a $4 million reserve fund that could be used for payments if tax receipts fell short. Ultimately, however, the bond issue is the responsibility of the city.
It's the first of three public incentives that Krejci and Yates hope to land for the project. Those incentives would total $161 million.
On top of the bonds and sales taxes, the developers are seeking $53 million in tax-increment financing, which would allow additional property taxes generated by the development to help cover the cost of public improvements.
They're also looking for $58 million from a new, 1.95 percent occupation tax that would be added to purchases made within the Crossroads Village district.
Both of those proposals still need to be brought to the City Council for approval.
Tuesday, Council President Pete Festersen reiterated his support for the project, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to revitalize a significant property. He and other council members previously urged the developers to sell voters on their plans.
Yates said he's planning a grass-roots campaign to explain his ideas — even going door to door to explain why the bond issue is crucial to Crossroads' success. He said he also plans to hold regular town hall meetings.
“We want to be as transparent as possible, to make sure people fully understand what this is about,” he said.
Yates noted that he orchestrated a similar effort in Gretna, in support of the Nebraska Crossing Outlets. That development used a similar financing plan.
He said he wants to make clear to voters that Crossroads Village would be more than a shopping center. Yates and Krejci are drawing up a financing plan for the proposed library, and Yates said they are willing to pitch in $5 million toward what could be a $10 million to $15 million project.
“Frank and I are willing to put our money into the library as a steppingstone to make it happen,” he said.