Corey Avenue Workshop: One Step Toward a Bustling Downtown

 

ST. PETE BEACH – As early as the end of June, the city could officially designate the Corey area as a redevelopment area and start working on projects that will spur redeveloping the downtown. The city designated the area as a CRA.

 A CRA refers to a community reinvestment area.

 “If you’ve been in Dunedin, they’re a CRA,” Community Development George Kinney said.

 “If a community chooses to adopt one, then there are statutory requirements for how it’s set up and how it’s operated,” Mr. Kinney said. St. Pete Beach has designated the Corey area as a CRA (please see the accompanying map to see the boundaries of the district). Gulfport also has a CRA.

 To help move the redevelopment along, city staff and commissioners told residents they wanted input about Corey Avenue from those affected by any changes. To that end, the city held a two-hour workshop last Thursday evening to hear from those with concerns about the area.

 “We were trying to figure out a way to help … focus on certain catalytic projects for redevelopment,” Mr. Kinney said. “It was to set the groundwork, lay out a road map for prioritization, for the CRA.”

 Roughly 70 people  attended Thursday’s workshop.

 “There was a good mix of owners, merchants and residents,” Kinney said.

 “There was overwhelming support that Corey Avenue needs to be redeveloped.... what we were going after in this workshop is what projects lay within the district that would be good ones to focus on to get the ball rolling,” Mr. Kinney said, saying he and staff looked for “shovel-ready” projects.

 “There were all kinds of suggestions, on densities, on uses, styles, appearances, aesthetics, public art – the kind of things you normally get. Our job going forward is to take those comments and figure out how those comments support actual projects that can be the focal point of the CRA,” Mr. Kinney said.

 The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council will help the city tailor those ideas, working them into projects that will spur other redevelopment in the district.

 Money for these projects will come from property taxes on land and buildings in the CRA, although Mr. Kinney stressed that the properties in the CRA would not see new taxes as a result of the CRA.


 The funding structure, called TIF (Tax Increment Financing), works like this:

 •Property values will not increase for properties in the CRA will not increase or decrease differently than they do elsewhere in the city.

 •The value of the properties in the CRA the year a city establishes the CRA is considered the base year;

 •As property value increases in the CRA, a portion of the taxes that the city earns as a result of the increase (not the full value) goes into a TIF fund,

 • The city can then use that money for improvements in the CRA, and only in that area.


 St. Pete Beach’s consultant, Tindale-Oliver, will help the city negotiate the terms of the TIF with the county.


 
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