The rebate, and other TIF and local funds, would reportedly helppay for a $200 million parking ramp and $150 million in otherinfrastructure. The rest of the expansion would be adding 5.6million sf to the existing 4.2 million sf property, and wouldinclude a new Bass Pro Shops, hotels, restaurants, a 6,000-seatauditorium and a Great Wolf Lodge.

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Local officials, regional groups and even Gov. Tim Pawlenty havesaid that the mall should not be granted an abatement, even thoughthe mall reportedly pays about $50 million in taxes each year.Pawlenty vetoed a tax bill last year that included a similar rebatefor the mall.

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Kent Warden, executive director of the Greater Minneapolischapter of Building Owners and Managers Association, tellsGlobeSt.com that allowing the mall to gain a rebate would be unfairto all other developers and owners in the state. "This pool isdesigned to level out the tax base across different municipaljurisdictions, to reduce the bias of one community toward another,"he says. "It was never designed to be a subsidy program, a sourceof cash for developers."

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He says that programs like TIF funding have safeguards in placethat force developers to provide proof that a project cannot goforward without the incentives. This pool subsidy would not requirethat proof, Warden says.

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However, mall attorney Bill Griffith tells GlobeSt.com that theexpansion, which would take about four years, cannot go forwardwithout all incentives in place. "There is a precedent for this,buildings downtown get a rebate on this pool all the time," hesays. "There's no other project in the Twin Cities that benefitsthe region like the mall, it's a clear benefit to the region."Labor unions have also come out for the expansion, since mallofficials say the project will create 7,000 new jobs for thearea.

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