Saint Albans pitching TIF district to pay for Riverfront Park work

SAINT ALBANS, W.Va. – Saint Albans leaders are asking the Kanawha County Commission to approve a tax increment financing district within the city for redeveloping Coal Riverfront Park.

Mayor Scott James approached the commission at its meeting Thursday to discuss the application and the project, which will cost $1.8 million. James is proposing declaring a TIF to divert tax payments and cover part of current construction costs, with plans to securing additional money through grants and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

“We’ve got to give people reason to come to Saint Albans,” James said after the commission meeting.

The new development includes an amphitheater with canopy, boat dock and an area for food trucks.

The mayor pointed to Yak Fest as an example; James said the city’s annual kayaking event continues to grow in popularity as the city tries to label itself as “the flatwater kayaking capital of West Virginia.”

“We felt there were approximately 10,000 people on Old Main (Street) for Friday and Saturday. For the businesses in that business district, they had record weekends because they kept their doors open,” he said. “I think the more we give people reason to come to Saint Albans, the more businesses are going to come (and) the chances for us to get a hotel are going to grow, so we have to do things to be proactive and not reactive.”

James proposed the TIF district will go from Old Main Street to B Street and U.S. Route 60.

A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m. ahead of the Saint Albans City Council meeting.