What is community redevelopment?
Community redevelopment is the publicly-financed rebuilding of an urban, residential or commercial area. Redevelopment is one of the most effective ways to breathe new life into deteriorated areas plagued by social, physical, environmental or economic conditions that act as a barrier to new investment by private enterprise. Through redevelopment, a target area will receive focused attention and financial investment to reverse deteriorating trends, create jobs, revitalize the business climate, rehabilitate and add to the housing stock, and gain active participation and investment by citizens which would not otherwise occur.
Florida law (Chapter 163, Part III) gives local governments the ability to set aside future increases in property values in order to support economic development projects in a targeted urban area. Projects range from stormwater improvements to commercial facade grant programs.
How was the Gainesville CRA created?
The Fifth Avenue/Pleasant Area was designated as Gainesville’s first community redevelopment area in 1979. By 2001, the CRA was operating in four Community Redevelopment Areas: Eastside, Fifth Avenue/Pleasant Street, Downtown, and College Park/University Heights. Redevelopment projects in these areas all share a central purpose: to alleviate urban blight and catalyze economic growth.
There are approximately 178 Community Redevelopment Agencies in the State of Florida.
How does the CRA identify which projects to invest in?
There is a redevelopment plan for each CRA area. These plans provide guidelines and strategies for removing physical and economic blight and provide a vision, goals and timetables for generating growth and new opportunities. Redevelopment plans are created with political, business, and community participation. The plans are the roadmap for spurring growth, creating new housing and improving the quality of life and general welfare of the people who live and work in and around redevelopment areas.
How is the CRA funded?
Funds for CRA projects are drawn from tax increment funds. When a redevelopment area is established, the current assessed values of the property within the project area are designated as the base year value–also known as a “frozen value.” Tax increment comes from the increased value of property, not from an increase in tax rates. Any increases in property values as assessed because of change in ownership or new construction will increase tax revenue generated by the property. A percentage of the increase in tax revenue is the tax increment that goes to the CRA.
CRA funding is directly tied to these trust fund accounts and is separate from the City’s General Fund. CRA funding is also geographically tied to the neighborhoods from where it originated from. For example, funding generated from the College Park/University Heights community redevelopment area must be reinvested in projects in the area from where it came from–it cannot be spent Downtown or in another redevelopment area.
How is the CRA governed and structured?
The Gainesville CRA is governed by the City of Gainesville Board of Commissioners. The CRA is also guided by four citizen advisory boards which meet regularly to provide feedback and direction on CRA projects. The CRA Director reports directly to the City Manager, who serves as the CRA’s executive director.