Thursday, October 22, 2020

Q & As CONCERNING CRAs

 

 

The Town Center CRA in Marco Island

1. What is a CRA?

A Community Redevelopment Authority (CRA) is a separate entity from the city or the county, created to implement community redevelopment within a defined district of the community.  The ability for cities and counties to create a CRA is provided under the Florida Community Development Act enacted in 1969 under Florida Statutes Chapter 163, Part III. CRAs are in common use, with more than 140 CRAs created to revitalize limited areas in communities across Florida. There are 3 successful CRAs already existing in Collier County.

2. What is Proposed?
Unlike residential CRAs focused on neighborhood and housing improvements, this business-oriented CRA is under development to encourage higher commercial and business redevelopment and investment through specific projects in the business district.

The present proposal is to create a redevelopment district, or CRA, over the Town Center Business District, with public improvements to be funded and implemented as developed in an as-yet-undeveloped Redevelopment Plan. The participants in the 2009 planning charrettes recommended several potential projects, including the following:

  • Upgrade Utilities to Accommodate New Development
  • Bury Overhead Utility Lines
  • Create Public Spaces and Pedestrian Connections to Create a Walkable Business District
  • Improve Mobility and Access with a Parking Deck/Garage and Improved Transit or Trolley Service
  • Complete Intersection Improvements

3. What’s the Issue? Is This a Solution Looking for a Problem?
The planning charrettes identified a number of potential projects within the proposed CRA boundaries. The creation of a CRA is the first step under Florida law to create a true redevelopment plan and to authorize the funding stream for the projects identified under that plan.

4. What’s the Process?
With a few steps you see that the CRA is both based on the present issues facing the business district, and on a vision for how the business district can be more successful for the businesses and residents of this community. The formal process includes the following steps:

  1. Develop a Finding of Necessity, specifically addressing how or whether the area under consideration meets the Florida definitions to allow creation of a Community Redevelopment Area. This is not a finding of blight, but instead addresses legal requirements for the creation of a CRA.
  2. Creation of the CRA through an ordinance to be adopted by City Council, and creation of the CRA Board. This Board will then be designated to lead the redevelopment effort.
  3. Prepare a Financial Analysis, estimating the development trends and revenues to be created within the district, and developing a Redevelopment Trust Fund to receive the revenues for the CRA.
  4. The community will also develop a Master or Redevelopment Plan for the CRA District, with a list of projects necessary to help make the businesses within that district successful. This Redevelopment Plan will outline the vision for this central business district for the City.

5. Will a CRA Mean Higher Taxes for Businesses or Residents?
Generally a CRA is based on a philosophy that the City’s investment in infrastructure to directly support business should result in revenues that in turn pay for the City’s expenses. There are a few absolutes involved in this discussion:

  1. The creation of a CRA does not require an increase in taxes for the properties within the district, nor for any properties in the City. Instead, a CRA relies on funding through Tax Increment Financing, capturing the additional taxes that are created as property values rise with new private investment.
  2. The projects funded by the CRA are most often not going to be those that the City would otherwise perform. Generally road maintenance and other scheduled improvements are continued and funded in the same manner as maintenance in the rest of the City.
  3. This issue necessarily does not affect the City’s Spending Cap. A CRA is an enterprise fund wholly dependant on revenues from a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, and is exempt from the Cap. Otherwise, the capital projects and services supporting the businesses within this district would compete with funding for police, fire, recreation and other services provided throughout the rest of the community.
  4. The creation of a CRA does not take existing revenues away from either the City or the County. The City and the County continue to receive the same revenues that both governments receive today, throughout the life of the CRA.
  5. Revenue for the CRA is generated from the new taxes generated with redevelopment and the increase in property values. As redevelopment creates higher property values and additional taxes, these new revenues pay for the public improvements that stimulate the redevelopment.

A CRA, funded through creation of a TIF district, is simply one tool available in Florida to support business and commercial redevelopment – every CRA works under this system, and the community chooses the projects that are worthwhile to support within the district.

6. What, More Debt?
Any decision to issue debt to pay for capital projects identified in the master redevelopment plan through the issuance of debt has not been made, and would be a decision of the CRA Board. A CRA is wholly responsible for the expenses of the CRA, and is financed through a revenue stream created by new revenues from higher property values. Any debt is expected to be debt of the CRA, and not of the City or County.

The CRA uses funds created by and accumulated within the district to pay for the improvements identified in the Redevelopment Plan.  This may or may not require the issuance of debt if the rate of accumulation of funds makes implementation of the Plan possible without debt.

Who Do You Call?
For more information, please contact Steve Olmsted, the City’s Director of Community Development, at (239) 389-5000, or by e-mail at solmsted@cityofmarcoisland.com. The CRA studies and information are also available on the City’s website – www.cityofmarcoisland.com/Public_Documents/CRA.

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