Members of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) voted to gather more information about the ramifications of shutting down the downtown CRA and then the board voted to move forward with possibly providing financial assistance for the Washington Square project.
Also, Mayor Andrew Gillum – who has refused to answer questions about his New York excursion with a city lobbyist and undercover FBI agents posing as CRA developers – took a swipe at critics of the Community Redevelopment Agency at Wednesday’s meeting.
Gillum said that the CRA should not be influenced by “folks spouting off at the microphone” and that “we need to be reasonable and adult-like in our decision-making.”
The remarks followed a number of speakers who supported the position that the downtown CRA should be shutdown since the CRA is supposed to serve “blighted areas” and there is nothing blighted about downtown.
One public speaker, Dr. Erwin Jackson, said that no more projects should be funded by the CRA until the FBI investigation is completed.
In a surprise move, the CRA voted 6-3 to move forward with providing financial assistance for the fifteen story, $90 million Washington Square project which includes a conference hotel, three restaurants, condos and underground parking.
The developers are asking for a $9.6 million dollar tax break.
The project was a last minute add to the agenda and many thought that since the CRA staff was recently directed by elected officials to not to bring any more large projects forward, the project would be dismissed.
That was not the case.
City Commissioners Nancy Miller, Gil Ziffer, Curtis Richardson and Mayor Andrew Gillum joined County Commissioners Mary Ann Lindley and Kristen Dozier in voting for the project.
City Commissioner Scott Maddox and County Commissioners Bill Proctor and Nick Maddox voted against the motion.