|By Jane Roberts, The Commercial Appeal,
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jan. 11, 2006 - Score another victory for Gene Carlisle, the Mid-South hamburger magnate who in 2007 intends to be building a 27-story condo/hotel at Beale and Riverside Drive.
Tuesday, the Center City Revenue Finance Commission granted the project a 20-year tax break -- five years more than customary -- saving Carlisle approximately $13 million in local taxes over the entire term.
"Board members felt that due to the great financial risk facing the developer, the project warranted an exception to the rule," said Jeff Sanford, president and CEO of the Center City Commission.
The tower will feature 168 hotel rooms on floors five through 10. Luxury condos, priced from $350,000 to $2 million, will finish out the tower, which will include underground parking.
Carlisle intends to begin the 24-month construction project in early 2007.
"Frankly, if we had been turned down, it would have been a real blow to us," he said. "I think the board members understood. We're giving them more than we are getting."
County and city taxes on the condos are expected to generate nearly $80-plus million a year, Sanford said.
But by state law, the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentive may only be granted to commercial projects, not residential projects.
While critics of the PILOT program say the city and county give too much away to court development, "this could be viewed as an investment to get the city and county an immediate property tax return," Sanford said.
Within a week or two, Carlisle plans to announce the name of the luxury hotel that will be the centerpiece of his vision.
The first floor will include a grand lobby, retail space, upscale restaurant and spa. Two floors will be dedicated to 75,000 square feet of Class A office space. The fourth floor will be reserved for meeting and conference rooms.
"We have a lot more steps, but today was a big one," said Carlisle, founder and owner of Carlisle Corp., which owns 90 Wendy's restaurants in the region.
"We've still got to get through the land use control board. And we've got to select a contractor, plus marketing and selling agents."
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