Questions answered about the South St. Petersburg CRA

What is a Community Redevelopment Area (CRA?)

Rick Smith

Rick Smith

A Community Redevelopment Area – a CRA – is a special area in which property taxes are set aside to support economic development projects solely within that district. It is a formal designation given by Florida statute to help cities address blight in their communities.

What is the South St. Petersburg CRA?

The St. Petersburg Southside Community Redevelopment Plan (CRP) is a 30-year plan for the economic revitalization of South St. Petersburg. It will work by promoting reinvestment through private enterprise in housing and neighborhoods, commercial corridors, business development, education and workforce development and non-profit capacity building.

The underlying philosophy of the South St. Petersburg CRP is to incentivize the private sector to invest in the CRA by “directing the vast majority of TIF revenues generated from the South St. Petersburg district to provide direct assistance for private investment in residential and non-residential redevelopment in the form of grants, loans, ad valorem tax rebates or other vehicles that help businesses leverage capital from diverse sources.”

This strategic, wide-ranging investment is in line with Mayor Kriseman’s strategy for eradicating poverty in South St. Petersburg and providing opportunity for every citizen of the Sunshine City.

Where is the CRA?

The 4,700-acre CRA is the largest in St. Petersburg, and one of the largest in Florida. The CRA is comprised of Greater Childs Park, most of Midtown, more than twenty neighborhood and business associations, and two Florida Main Street Districts. Both the South St. Petersburg Redevelopment Plan and redevelopment trust fund were approved by the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners and the City of St. Petersburg City Council in 2015.

When does it take effect? When can we expect to see changes as a result of the CRA plan?

We expect to see changes in the first round of funding, which begins in May 2016. The plan’s design is to attract developers and business owners who would not otherwise be able to invest in businesses and homes; and to incentivize and encourage banks to provide loans and the private sector to invest in South St. Petersburg.

Why is the CRA different?

This approach to revitalization in South St. Petersburg has never been tried before, either there or elsewhere in St. Petersburg. It relies on private enterprise to uplift the community and lays the groundwork for that private enterprise to happen in a way that includes people of the community, whether through entrepreneurship, jobs, education, training or skills building. It is like the investments that have been made for some time, but the investment is in people in addition to places.

Why do we need a South St. Petersburg CRA?

Since 1999, the City of St. Petersburg has made hundreds of millions of dollars in investments supporting major planning initiatives in South St. Petersburg. Some examples of what was funded include the creation of Wildwood Recreation Center, street-scaping along Central Avenue, 22nd Street South and 16th Street, investments to support the development in Jordan Park, renovation of the Manhattan Casino, renovating and expanding the Childs Park Recreation complex, and more. These investments have not moved the needle on eradicating poverty.

Who makes the call with respect to what is funded?

The St. Petersburg City Council serves as the Community Redevelopment Agency governance authority and in this capacity, makes the final call on how money is spent. The Agency works closely with the Citizen Advisory Committee, which is comprised of business owners, residents and stakeholders who help prioritize how the money should be spent.

When can we expect to see changes as a result of the CRA plan?

We hope to see changes as the first round of funding is expended, which begins in May 2016. The city hopes to attract developers and business owners who would not otherwise be able to invest in businesses and homes.

How do I find out more, or communicate thoughts or questions about CRA?

CAC meetings are held every two months and are open to the public. Anyone can come to discuss issues or share ideas. Meetings are agenda on web page, http://www.stpete.org/city_departments/southside_cra.php

Citizens may also speak to City Council as part of open forum to relay their contributions regarding South St. Petersburg and the CRA.

Rick Smith, City of St. Petersburg staff lead for the South St. Petersburg CRA.

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