Our city administration has began the decision making process to bring major redevelopment to the approximately 250-acre area called Town Center, which surrounds the smaller shopping center by the same name.
The creation of a CRA (Community Redevelopment Area) may be considered by City Council on March 15 and April 5, which is the second important step in this process. The first being Council approval of the Finding of Necessity under Florida statutes, a copy of which can be seen on the city’s Web site.
But, let’s back up a step or two and ask the questions “What exactly is a CRA, how does it work and how is it financed?” Adopted in 1969 in Florida, a CRA is intended to help communities revitalize downtowns, preserve historic structures and otherwise enhance the designated CRA district. Most of the funding will come by establishing a “TIF” or Tax Incremental Financing.
Here are a few things to consider:
Our CRA could last as long as 40 years.
It will impact most or all of the 180 land parcels in the CRA area.
The CRA boundaries may change during development.
Collier County is a “stakeholder” in the planning discussions.
The new Veteran’s Community Park is included in the CRA footprint.
A CRA requires a “slum” or “blighted” area for approval.
Are you aware the Total Taxable Valuation in the Town Center CRA area dropped from $548,896,713 in 2007 to $389,402,995 in 2009? That is a loss of valuation of 29.9 percent! Would a CRA help to reverse this downward trend?
The steps to create the Town Center CRA are:
1. Initial public charrettes (workshops) be held.
2. Preliminary discussions with Collier County representatives.
3. Approve the Finding of Necessity.
4. Develop/approve the Community Redevelopment Plan.
5. Create a Redevelopment Trust Fund.
Currently, the CRA is in the review process with city officials who are taking steps to get additional input in addition to that received during two public workshops in April of last year. Our city administration is to be congratulated for announcing their desire to hold several public gatherings to get as much input and direction as possible considering the importance of this project.
The first opportunity for Islanders to see a detailed presentation of our CRA while getting answers to their questions will be at Iberia Bank’s initial “In The Round” lecture series event for 2010 on Thursday, with presentations by Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala, City Councilor Bill Trotter and City Manager Steve Thompson.
You will learn what a “TIF” is and how it will work and that a Community Redevelopment Agency within the city government will need to be established to oversee the CRA.
How big a deal is this and why should you care? Well, if you have to ask the first question, then you have not been involved or informed as to the financial impact or economic benefits of Marco Island’s Community Redevelopment Area project. As to why you should care, you can be the judge of that once you have joined other Islanders at one of the public presentations.
One last point, while it may change, the current approximate borders of the Town Center area CRA are: North to Marco Marina; east to Chamber of Commerce offices; south past Marco Cemetery; west past Esplanade.
I urge every Marco Island resident to attend any of the public informational gatherings to find out how this project impacts the future of our city.