CRA Staff Ignores Citizens Advisory Committee, Moves Forward With Sale of Southside Property

CRA Staff Ignores Citizens Advisory Committee, Moves Forward With Sale of Southside Property

On Wednesday, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) will recommend that elected officials authorize the CRA Director to amend a development agreement with Big Bend Cares, Inc. (BBC) to allow BBC to purchase four Wallis Street properties – currently owned by the CRA – for a sale price of $510,000. The price was based on a professional property appraisal.

The process will not require the CRA to advertise the properties for sale.

This recommendation comes after the CRA Citizens Advisory Committee, following a discussion, voted 3 to 0, with one member abstaining, to oppose the staff recommendation.  A summary of the CAC and audience member objections is provided below:

  • The retention of the property is not consistent with the existing CRA-BBC development agreement.
  • The CRA-BBC development agreement contains terms not approved by the CAC, such as providing the BBC with the right of first refusal in any future sale of the Properties and the inclusion of future use restrictions for the Properties.
  • The proposed retention of the Properties benefits only BBC and not the southside community.
  • BBC has not indicated what it intends to do with the Properties.
  • The CAC questioned how the appraised value of the Properties dropped from $510,000 in 2015 when the block was blighted to $350,000 following the development of Care Point.
  • The CAC questioned whether the BBC needed $1.5 million in assistance from the CRA in 2015, do they now have the funds to pay the CRA $510,000 to retain the Properties?
  • If retained and redeveloped by the BBC the Properties will not generate any tax increment for the CRA.
  • The offer of $510,000 when the July appraised value is $350,000 may indicate BBC will pay more to retain ownership of the Properties.
  • Redevelopment interest and property values are increasing in the Southside, keep the property and market it when property values increase over the $510,000 offered by BBC.
  • Residents of Frenchtown and Southside are losing the ability to control redevelopment in their neighborhoods, redevelopment of this site needs to be based on Southside community input.

The CRA staff stated that we “must look objectively at the issues and provide our best professional recommendation to the CRA Board. Therefore, CRA staff recommends approval of amending the development agreement to allow BBC to retain ownership of these parcels..”

Listed below are the CRA’s reasons for the recommendation:

  • The GFS District will receive $510,000 in revenue that is not subject to the three-year tax increment restriction.
  • The revenue from BBC essentially reduces the total CRA investment from $1.5 million to $990,000.
  • The BBC offer to pay the CRA $510,000 to retain ownership of the Properties is $160,000 more than the July 2018 appraisal of the Properties prepared by Brown Bevis.
  • The original CRA plan for the Properties was as a farmer’s market, but the establishment of a successful farmer’s market at Smith Williams reduces the usefulness of the Properties as a farmer’s market.
  • The Properties total 1.07 acres.  Developing the site for any substantial use may be limited due to land development requirements, such as stormwater retention and setbacks.
  • It will eliminate the need for the CRA to maintain and market the Properties and will help ensure future uses or redevelopment on the Properties are complimentary to the Care Point Health & Wellness Center.
  • If approved by the CRA Board, the BBC payment would be evenly split over two years with the first payment of $255,000 by the end of FY 2018 (no later than September 30, 2018) and the second $255,000 payment in FY 2019.  Staff is also recommending removal of restriction Number 2 as discussed above.

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