The area near the new interstate exit in Greenwood is primed for development, but without spending taxpayer money on infrastructure projects, that development could take longer to arrive, officials said.
As development comes to what is currently empty land near Worthsville Road and Interstate 65, the current stormwater drainage system already in place will require major improvements, city engineer Mark Richards said.
During a 25-year span, officials anticipate the city will spend close to an estimated $27 million on stormwater drainage improvements such as building retention ponds, which is work that would normally be done by developers.
The majority of that work is the construction of about 22 retention ponds and installing large stormwater drainage pipes, Richards said.
“This wouldn’t be done all at once, but it would dwarf any stormwater drainage project the city has ever done,” Richards said.
As development fills in around the interchange, improvements to the stormwater drainage system will be needed to handle stormwater runoff when parking lots and buildings replace existing farmland.
The city wants to use the cost savings for developers as the incentive to attract the right kind of projects. By taking on the cost for work such as building retention ponds and installing larger storm drains, the development the city wants will come to the area sooner, officials said.
The money will come from tax dollars generated by development in the area east of the Worthsville Road interchange, inside what is proposed as the city’s seventh tax-increment financing, or TIF, district. Essentially, over time, projects will be paid for with property tax dollars generated in the area as development occurs, officials said.
“The intent has always been to use the TIF to generate revenue that will help build infrastructure,” Richards said.
Now, as developers come to the area in search of property to build retail shops and office buildings, the city will take on a large chunk of the stormwater improvement costs, Richards said.
“Without providing this incentive, the area would be less attractive to developers because they would have to spend more money,” Richards said.
With the city taking on the construction of the retention ponds and installation of larger pipes, a developer would only have to complete minimal work that would channel stormwater to the retention ponds, Richards said.
The city will only do the work as development occurs, city planning director Bill Peeples said.
“We aren’t doing these projects up front. We would have to have prospective developers to do this,” Peeples said.
Around the new interchange, much of the area has always been swampy due to drainage problems, Peeples said. By creating a regional drainage system with larger retention ponds, the city is increasing the property value and making it more appealing to a developer, he said.
North of Worthsville Road, the city hopes for industrial development such as the warehouses at Precedent South business park. Around the interchange and to the south of Worthsville Road, retail development and office buildings are planned.