Columbia's Polk Motel project has been thrown into limbo by the developer's indictment on wire fraud charges in Mississippi and his lack of progress at the construction site.
David Hunt of Jackson, Tennessee bought 14 acres at Bear Creek Pike in 2019 for $5 million to build a Courtyard by Marriott hotel and convention center. He has been negotiating to bring a Publix supermarket and chain restaurants into the project, which would reshape the look of north Columbia.
Before the indictment, the City of Columbia was growing weary of Hunt's promises. In 2019, he blamed the weather for a delay in construction before clearing the site of debris.
In 2020, he told the city he was waiting to design the hotel around the supermarket, if it agreed to come. The coronavirus pandemic also played a role in halting work.
Hunt has until December 31st to finish the motel or possibly have the Columbia's Industrial Development Board eliminate his tax increment financing, or TIF. The board could vote to give Hunt more time, but that seems unlikely considering his lack of progress and his indictment. A TIF helps subsidize a developer or company by refunding or diverting a portion of their taxes to finance development partially.
Hunt's agreement with the city allows him to earn TIF credits, reducing his tax liability, if he makes at least $18.5 million in capital expenditures and builds the project before December 31st.