News Article | 1/18/2008

In first decade, Victory Park produced $6M for tax district

Hillwood Development Co. LLC is using the 10th anniversary of the public vote to back the construction of American Airlines Center and surrounding development to trumpet the success of the project.

A preliminary report of the Sports Arena tax-increment finance district to the city of Dallas indicates the appraised value of the land has climbed from $145 million in 2006 to $386.5 million in 2007, according to the report, which was provided by Hillwood.

“This will result in the collection of approximately $6,056,674 total in incremental revenue for the Sports Arena TIF District,” according to the report, which is expected to go before the Dallas City Council in about a month to be formally accepted.

Arena backers won approval of the TIF by a razor-thin margin (50.65% to 49.35%) on Jan. 17, 1998.

Opponents — including then-Dallas Observer columnist Laura Miller , who went on to become mayor of Dallas — argued that the deal was a lopsided arrangement that benefited some of the wealthiest business people in Texas.

Miller didn’t return phone calls seeking comment for this story.

Supporters argued that the TIF and sale of public bonds were necessary to make the former power plant site economically viable for redevelopment. The Sports Arena TIF District and the retail, offices, apartments and hotels around it in Uptown are now known as Victory Park.

Among the highlights in the TIF report:

– The development resulted in the construction of 861 condominiums and apartments, exceeding the goal set by the TIF of 261 units;

– The construction of two hotels (The W Dallas Victory Hotel and the Mandarin Oriental hotel within Victory Tower, which is under construction) exceeded the goal of a single hotel by 100%;

– Plans for more than 1 million square feet of office space at the location exceed TIF goals by 8%;

On Jan. 8, Fitch Ratings announced it upgraded the bonds backing the project from “A” to “A+,” citing a boom in hotel construction around the Victory Park development and a rebound in car rentals since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

With voter approval, the city of Dallas issued two series of bonds to build American Airlines Center, which is home to the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Stars and anchors Victory Park. The vote also allowed the creation of a TIF district that allowed developers to recoup their cost of improving the roads that surround the center.

Both bond series are backed by a lien on money generated by a 2% hotel tax and a 5% motor vehicle rental tax collected within Dallas city limits.