Over the last three years, the City and County Commissioners who sat on the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) have voted to spend approximately $10 million dollars associated with four major developments on and around Gaines Street.
Together these developments will consist of 74,000 square feet of retail space, 1,400 parking places, and 1,400 residential beds.
The $10 million spent on development incentives is in addition to the approximate $24 million spent on property acquisition and infrastructure improvements for the Gaines Street project.
While many view this development as progress, some local business owners view these projects as government subsidized competition that will, at best, hurt businesses that have been here for years and, at worst, cause some to go out of business.
Business owners, who did not want to go on the record because as one owner said, ” I rely on City for permits and they can cause me problems”, argue that local government is helping out their competition.
With almost 1500 new beds being added in the Gaines Street area, investors that own student housing projects claim that the investments by local government is increasing the supply of apartments when demand is not growing.
Also, the addition of 74,000 square feet of retail space, equivalent to the Whole Foods development in Midtown, will provide more competition to the retail space on and around Tennessee Street.
“I missed the meeting where local officials agreed to spend my tax money to support my competitors”, said one business owner.
The largest project on Gaines Street is being developed by North American Properties (NAP) and will result in 26,000 square feet in retail space, 580 residential beds, and 700 parking places.
NAP is described as is a privately-held, multi-regional real estate operating company that has acquired, developed and managed more than $4 billion of retail, multifamily, mixed use and office properties across the United States.
The CRA voted to give NAP approximately $5.6 million in grant funds and tax rebates. These tax dollars will be used to purchase parking spaces, to offset retail development expenses, and design upgrades.
Tallahassee Reports, in an ongoing series, will publish future reports detailing the specifics of the major projects being promoted by your tax dollars.
There is a conflict between Article 7 Section 10 of the Florida Constitution, which does not allow tax expenditures such as these, and Florida Statutes Chapter 125, which does allow them.
This matter needs to either be brought before a court for resolution or the statutes need to be brought into compliance by the legislature. Unfortunately most citizens and the affected business owners cannot afford to file the suit, and there are not enough lobbyists for property rights at the legislature.
You can help with the latter by visiting and donating to the Liberty First Network, http://www.libertyfirstfl.org.
Another example of “crony capitalism”. Its bad public policy. And it looks like it has taken place without the opportunity for public input.
A big thumps down to the folks on the (CRA).
Thanks, Steve, JP