What is the Southside CRA… What is a TIF?

Dear Editor,

The Southside CRA has been in the paper recently with some in the community fully supportive and excited for the benefits of this designation to begin their impact on the community and others in the community were seeking more planning before the plans approval. February 29, 2016 from 4 pm – 5:30 at the SPC Midtown Campus, Keene Building, located at 1048 22nd Street South, please attend a workshop hosted by the Deuces Live Main Street. The speaker for the workshop is Rick Smith, CRA Coordinator for the Southside CRA.

During a City Council meeting held February 4, 2016, the St. Petersburg Council approved Resolution 2016-47 that adopted ten redevelopment programs that will fund investment in the South St. Petersburg CRA. The Council also approved several TIF programs, direct incentives to the community that will be rolled out in May 2016 upon receipt of Pinellas County’s TIF contribution by April 15th. The City Administration will begin marketing the availability of funding through these programs from March to May alerting businesses and residents to the opening of the application period in May.

The headline still hasn’t been answered. What is a CRA? For the purposes of this article, a CRA is an acronym to describe a Community Redevelopment Area (not to be confused with the Community Reinvestment Act, which is, could be the subject of another entire article. The Community Reinvestment Act relates to financial institutions and is intended to encourage depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate.)

This article is focused on the newly designated Southside CRA. A CRA is a geographic area targeted for focused redevelopment. The 4,700-acre Southside CRA is home to an estimated 33,620 people, or 14 percent of St. Petersburg’s total population. The area is generally bounded by 2nd Avenue North, 4th Street South on the east; 30th Avenue South on the south; and 49th Street on the west, it includes 5th Avenue North between 31st and 34th Street.

The Southside CRA also includes a TIF district. What is a TIF? TIF is Tax Increment Financing.  Funds generated in a TIF district are public funds (taxes) used to promote private sector activity in the targeted area. The dollar value of all real property in the Community Redevelopment Area is determined as of a fixed date, also known as the “frozen value.” Taxing authorities, which contribute to the tax increment, (the City of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County) continue to receive property tax revenues based on the frozen value. These frozen value revenues are available for general government purposes. However, any tax revenues from increases in real property value, referred to as “increment,” are deposited into the Community Redevelopment Agency Trust Fund and dedicated to the redevelopment area.  That’s correct, your taxes are used to promote private sector activity that encourages development in the area.

The city has identified several TIF programs and the applications will be available in May of this year. Learn about the programs so that when the applications become available, you’ll be prepared to apply. Currently there are several TIF Programs designated:

Affordable Multifamily Housing Development Program provides an annual property tax rebate for up to fifteen years on increases in ad valorem taxes for all applicable Pinellas County taxing authorities for developers of new and substantially renovated affordable multifamily housing in the CRA.

Residential Property Improvement Grant program reimburses approved applicants for eligible exterior and interior improvements on affordable or market-rate residential housing in the CRA. Emphasis will be placed on funding substantial renovations that upgrade vital building systems and sustain and extend the economic life of a structure.

Commercial Site Improvement Grant program provides a reimbursable grant to commercial property owners that upgrade their building façades, landscaping, lighting, loading and service areas and other features of their sites visible from the public right-of-way.

Commercial Building Interior and Tenant Improvement Grant provides matching grants from the City’s TIF contribution to commercial property owners for interior upgrades with a focus on projects that remedy degraded building systems and extend the economic viability of the building.

Commercial Revitalization Program provides grant awards to projects that enhance established business districts by redeveloping properties, decreasing vacancy rates, adding to the tax base, creating jobs, leveraging private sector investment, and improving the quality of life for surrounding neighborhoods through removal of blight and revitalizing vacant or underutilized properties.

Redevelopment Loan Program provides funding to a South St. Petersburg loan pool to support the lending efforts in the CRA by the City’s financial partners for CRA businesses and residents.

Veatrice Farrell, Program Manager, The Deuces Live, Inc.

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