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.