After long months of discussions and negotiations, the basic legal framework is set fo the construction of American Greetings's international headquarters at Crocker Park. City council members passed an agreement between Westlake, Crocker Park and American Greetings Friday afternoon.
Under the agreement, American Greetings and Crocker Park managers Stark Enterprises will pay no taxes on the increased value of their property for 30 years, starting in 2014.
"This creates the legal framework for the tax increment financing, but it won't go into effect yet," said Council President Michael Killeen. "This just sets up the structure... There are numbers in here based on current plans that have not yet been approved, so this will have to be amended, but it sets the business framework for the development."
Developers will instead make service payments to the city. Those service payments will be used for several purposes, including an annual tax compensation payment of at least $455,000, or 25 percent of property taxes as they are with the current zoning, to Westlake City Schools.
"This agreement allows the city to establish a tax increment fund district," said Mayor Dennis Clough. "This is one of the incentives that was offered. We feel this is necessary to encourage American Greetings to move to the city."
American Greetings will be spending up to $200 million to relocate its international headquarters from Brooklyn to Westlake by 2014.
The agreement was passed unanimously, with Ward 4 Councilman Michael O'Donnell absent. O'Donnell is an American Greetings employee, and did not vote on the agreement.
"There have been many discussions over the last year to create a development agreement for development at Crocker Park when American Greetings moves to Westlake," Clough said. "This sets the perameters as well as the conditions we as a city, American Greetings and Crocker Park have agreed to."