The Springfield City Council Tuesday said no to a plan from out-of-towners who have proposed rescuing three historic downtown buildings. So far, the city has spent nearly $1 million in tax increment financing funds – public money – in a stalled attempt to spur residential and commercial development in the buildings on the corner of Sixth and Monroe streets. Unions and subcontractors are owed $1.2 million by Rick Lawrence, the prior developer. Chesterfield Faring Ltd, a New York real estate investment firm that bought the loan on the property for $2.1 million, is seeking $3.15 million in TIF money to finish the job, which would add, proponents say, 41 apartments to the center of a struggling downtown. Citing concerns about the project's history and the involvement of Lawrence as a consultant, the city council voted 8-2 to table the TIF request. Ward 3 Ald. Doris Turner said she was concerned that an ownership corporation for the project hadn't been established. "Where the angst, at least for me, comes in is that, usually, when we have a TIF request of this large of an amount, everything, all of the companies that are going to be involved, their structure and all of their financing, is in place before it comes to us," Turner said. Ward 1 Ald. Chuck Redpath also said questions haven't been answered, and he called for a criminal investigation of Lawrence's failure to pay monies owed to unions and subcontractors. On the other hand, neither Redpath nor Turner nor other council members demanded many details when the council last year approved a $7.65 million TIF request to build a hotel and entertainment center at Fourth and Washington streets, where a city-owned parking garage now crumbles. The hotel deal was approved without private financing in place – at last report, a financier based in Spain expressed interest months after the council approved public money. We're just saying.

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