NARS developer asks for incentive package

NARS developer asks for incentive package
By: Crystal Britt
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - It's a multi-million dollar plan to breathe new life into a shopping area in Cape Girardeau. Part of that includes work on the old Sears building in the Town Plaza area to house a call center that'll bring in around 400 new jobs. There's more ideas in the works, but the developer wants incentives, and that might impact you.
Greater Missouri Builders owns Town Plaza, and it's investing a lot into rehabbing the old Sears building to create the NARS (National Asset Recovery Services) call center. It also hopes to add more retail, but the company wants tax breaks. Shoppers would potentially pay, and the school district could lose out. But, the mayor says everyone needs to look at the big picture.
The Town Plaza shopping area, is located right in the center of Cape Girardeau. It's a far cry from the development to the west but, a dream to bring hundreds of new jobs through a new call center in the old Sears building just might be the economic shot in the arm the area needs. The developer wants incentives, and wants to see a return on the investment to fix the place up. "I believe we have an opportunity to where we partner with Greater Missouri Builders and we're looking for creative ways to save this center", said Cape Girardeau Mayor, Jay Knudtson. 
Here's what's proposed: Designating Town Plaza as a "Community Improvement District"---that would raise the sales tax on businesses there by up to 1%. For example if you spent $100 at Buffalo Wild Wings, you'd pay an extra dollar in taxes. "People will come and eat and won't worry about a penny here and a penny there", said Jerry Lynn-General Manger, Buffalo Wild Wings. Other business owners are a little leery, as they're worried customers might go elsewhere.
Another proposal: tax abatement. The developer, over the course of several years, would pay only 50% of its property taxes. That means the school district stands to lose out, but no word yet on exactly how much.
You might say the empty Plaza Galleria behind Town Plaza is the carrot in this deal. The developer is hoping to buy it and revitalize it, too. That's an "if". Right now, it's all about NARS and the $15 million it's expected to generate in Cape. "If you look at the big picture we believe it's a good investment", said Knudtson. 
On Monday, the Cape Girardeau School Board will meet with city leaders to find out more about how the district would be affected.
A public hearing is set at the city council chambers at 7p.m. on March 5th.