AUGUSTA — A tax break likely to return nearly $40,000 a year in property taxes to the developer of the old Cony High School flatiron building is up for City Council approval Thursday.

Both city officials and developer Cynthia Taylor of Housing Initiatives of New England have said the tax increment financing is necessary to help redevelop the historic building, which has been vacant since it closed as a school when a new Cony High School opened in 2006.

The city has been paying about $75,000 a year to heat and maintain the building since it closed, according to City Manager William Bridgeo.

In March, city councilors voted unanimously to lease the distinctively shaped building, which overlooks busy Cony Circle, to the nonprofit housing developer. In 2000, Taylor and Housing Initiatives of New England redeveloped the nearby former city hall into 31 assisted-living apartments now known as the Inn at City Hall.

The flatiron building lease is for 50 years. Taylor has agreed to provide a $4,300 payment a year, in lieu of property taxes, for the 50-year duration of the lease.

The total cost of the redevelopment is estimated to be almost $10 million, according to documents on file with the city. Construction could begin in early 2014 and could be complete in the spring of 2015.

“Located at the juncture of Cony Circle, Stone Street and Cony Street, the former high school commands a prominent place in the hearts of Augusta citizens both for its architectural prominence and historical importance to thousands of alumni and citizens,” TIF documents state. “The housing project will protect and preserve this important piece of city history and extend the useful life of the building into the foreseeable future.”

The city unsuccessfully sought developers willing to refurbish the building for a new use four times before drawing a proposal from Taylor to turn the classrooms and other space of the old school into one and two-bedroom apartments for low- to moderate-income senior citizens.

Councilors previously have voted unanimously in favor of the concept of granting the project a TIF deal. Tonight they are scheduled to consider approving the terms of a TIF agreement.

Councilors are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. in a closed-door session to discuss potential pending litigation. They are expected to enter public session at 7 p.m. in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

They are also scheduled to:

• consider authorizing Bridgeo to enter into an agreement with Summit Natural Gas of Maine to provide gas to city and school facilities;

• hold a public hearing and consider granting a liquor license for Gagliano’s, a restaurant on Water Street;

• consider approving an ordinance regulating private fire hydrants; and

• consider banning heavy trucks from Macomber Avenue.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]

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