OUR OPINION: State tax credits provide boost to Warrior project

November 25, 2018

A plan for breathing new life into the downtown Warrior Hotel building received an important boost on Tuesday when the state awarded $11.3 million in historic tax credits for proposed renovation of the Warrior and nearby Davidson Building.

The award was less than the $16.5 million requested, but a spokesman for developer Lew Weinberg - who owns the buildings - told The Journal for a Wednesday story the additional $5.2 million could be awarded to the project next year.

The spokesman, Roger Caudron, said work on the project will begin in December.

Encouraging developments, indeed.

Proposed is a $71 million renovation of the Warrior and Davidson in the 500 block of Sixth Street into a combination hotel and residential/commercial/retail complex. The project is part of the city’s proposed Reinvestment District Program, which also involves construction of an agriculture/recreation center at the former site of the John Morrell plant in the old stockyards area; redevelopment to residential and commercial use by Ho-Chunk Inc. of several former industrial buildings in the 100 block of Virginia Street; and construction of a hotel and parking ramp next to the city’s downtown Convention Center.

Again today, we reiterate support for the City Council’s decision on Aug. 5 to guarantee $16.5 million in historic tax credits from the state for the Warrior/Davidson project. We remain optimistic the project eventually will get an additional $5 million in state credits.

Strengthened by Weinberg’s agreement with developer Restoration St. Louis, a national-recognized company with expertise in historic renovation, this plan offers the city potential for rewards far greater than the risk involved in its financial support. Today, the building produces nothing more than minimal property taxes based on the assessed value of an unused, long-empty shell. However, if the project continues to move forward, ultimately to completion, the city’s return will include increased property taxes, hotel-motel taxes, sales taxes, and jobs, both construction and permanent. In our view, the Warrior/Davidson project holds promise for the level of transformative impact spawned by construction of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Because we believe its vibrancy is vital to our community, we frequently use this space to champion downtown. As unabashed downtown advocates, we again today praise both private and public sectors for commitment to and investment in our community’s core. The result is a dynamic place of renaissance reflecting expansion of cultural amenities, entertainment choices, and urban-living options, as well as creation of green spaces.

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