University not billed for the Lofts’ property taxes by St. Louis County

Emma Baker | Contributing Reporter

Washington University has not received a property tax bill for the Delmar Loft residential properties from St. Louis County since its opening, as reported by an article in the St. Louis Business Journal.

The University does not traditionally pay property taxes because of their status as a nonprofit organization. However, taxes on the Loft properties, which straddle the municipalities of St. Louis City and St. Louis County, are owed because the real estate has third party vendors leasing the ground floor spaces.

According to St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman, his office failed to promptly bill the University for the properties.

“The thing that went wrong here is that nobody let us know as promptly as they should have that there was a problem and that these guys needed to get a tax bill,” Zimmerman said in an interview with the St. Louis Business Journal. “It is my responsibility to get this stuff right. I’m not interested in pointing fingers at University City or Washington University.”

In 2015 and 2016, the University paid around $60,000 in real estate taxes for the Lofts to St. Louis City.

“[The County has] confirmed that we will get a bill shortly and also a bill for 2017, of course, because that would be timely,” Assistant Vice Chancellor for Real Estate Mary Campbell said. “When we get a bill, we’ll pay it promptly.”

A reason for the oversight was not given by the St. Louis County Office of Revenue, Campbell said.

“In 2014, we had the leases for the ground floor [businesses] for both the City and the County,” Campbell said. “We submitted the appropriate paperwork that we submit to any jurisdiction where we’re going to have a third party ground floor retail tenant.”

Separate from the property taxes owed by the University are the sales taxes due from Peacock Diner and United Provisions, which are private businesses located in the Lofts, to University City and St. Louis City, respectively.

“We were really clear when we were talking about doing the Lofts project that we thought that there should be ground floor retail for the project,” Campbell said. “Part of the reason was that there was a vacant lot on the corner and a community development goal that was shared both by the University City and the University was to ensure that there was a vibrant pedestrian experience that would connect the West Loop going further East.”

It was estimated through an “income approach” appraisal by Sandy Youtzy, chief administrative manager in Zimmerman’s office, that the University would owe $30,000 in taxes for the Loft properties to the County.

The St. Louis Office of Revenue was unavailable to comment.

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