Ballard Building Challenges CRA Assumptions

Ballard Building Challenges CRA Assumptions

A major assumption used by the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to secure financial assistance for projects is being challenged by a downtown project that received no CRA financial assistance.

This comes as the CRA is defending its existence and advocating for more tax breaks for another major downtown project.

The CRA is quick to take credit for not only financially assisting new developments, but also for the decisions by developers to move forward with projects.

The assumption championed by the CRA staff and some elected officials is if not for the CRA’s involvement major projects would have never happened.

However, the Ballard Building, a $20 million project, nearing completion at the corner of Monroe and Park, raises questions about this assumption.

The project initially sought CRA financial assistance, but eventually withdrew the request.

With no CRA financial assistance, the 6-story office tower containing approximately 110,000 square feet will transform an important downtown location.

Early reports stated there would be restaurant-retail/lobby on the first floor of the building, and space available for lease on the middle floors. The building is attached to a dedicated parking structure containing approx. 77-spaces. This parking structure is slated to expand by additional floors.

Construction is slated for completion by fall 2017.

The mission of the CRA for the Downtown District has been under attack for a number of years. But as of late, community members have been more vocal in public meetings addressing the lack of consistency with the CRA’s mission of addressing “blight” and their approval of downtown projects.

The near completion of the Ballard Building will expand the critique of CRA actions during a time when elected officials are contemplating the fate of the Downtown District and while another major project seeks CRA financial assistance.

The CRA is set to consider the Washington Square project later this year which is a proposed development located at 227 S. Calhoun Street. The developers are seeking a $9.6 million refund of post-construction property tax from the downtown Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).

Ironically, if financial assistance is approved by the CRA for the Washington Square project, the Ballard Building will be competing with a city subsidized project less than 1,000 feet from their front door.

11 Responses to "Ballard Building Challenges CRA Assumptions"

  1. With everything going on and the Legislature maybe eliminating CRA’s, maybe we should have a moratorium on funding with CRA funds until the FBI investigation is complete, and the Legislature adjorns.

  2. If a project is not economically viable then it should not be built with government (taxpayer) funding. No exceptions.

  3. Ballard is a Republican oriented state and federal lobbyist. No way he is getting a slice of the Tallahassee liberal pie.

  4. I believe the last sentence says it all. The CRA is only going to assist those who are willing to grease palms with them. COT, CRA, & certain COT commissioners, mayors, & staff will support the CRA funded projects because they trot to the trough looking for the feed.
    Keep up the great work TR!

  5. Speaking of slush funds, I’d be interested in looking at how our money flows into the Downtown GetDowns. Who gets funded, etc.
    Any conflicts of interest?
    How are they doing, whether or not a so-far disappointing football season could impact the six Friday nights planned.
    Maybe you can get some data from its CEO.
    Paige Carter-Smith

    1. In order to receive ‘data’ from that CEO, one would have to ‘Pay to Play’! That’s their repertoire for doing business – State wide. No shame in her game until the feds initiated grand jury subpoenas.

  6. SLUSH fund, CRA saga unbelievable! Oversight Commission used CRA, slush fund to subsidize last year’s Jazz & Blues festival at Cascade Park. Now CRA in the entertainment business besides boldly comparing themselves as ‘developers. Roxanne Manning is delusional at best! Waiting to see how they spin this messy challenge!

    1. Roxanne Manning is the worst. She comes off so incompetent and unprepared then sits down in full camera view and openly scowls at the people “spouting off on a microphone” all while looking up at the monitors to see herself doing it! Sometimes, she won’t even answer a question at all. Like, not even try! Silence. How is she still employed?

      And how am I actually supposed to believe that damage to sidewalks from cranes is considered blight? She doesn’t even know what the projects are. When asked about the Double Tree sidewalk (that will be damaged from the crane adding the new level), she said the $800k was for a “cabana sorta thing.”

      I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to invest in a blight crane and rent it out to downtown business owners so they can damage all the sidewalks and get that CRA money. Then, I’m going to sell them “cabana sorta things” for $800k a pop! I’m going to be the entrepreneur Tallahassee needs, not the one it deserves.

      1. You appear to be much more informed than I, however, I always took her remarks to be that she was scrambling to try and spin what the commissioners (City and County) wanted her to so it sort of kind of almost looked legit. I view the City Attorney the same way, though, so take it for what it is worth.

  7. If enough economic demand exists for these projects, why is there a need for government financial assistance? Additionally, giving financial assistance to these proposed projects is not fair to the property owners who have existing structures that they have to work hard to lease and fill up. The CRA and Blueprint 2000 are money wasters on some of the projects they have given money to.

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