A prominent parcel in Gainesville may soon get some help from a special public fund set up for redevelopment projects in blighted areas.
Gainesville City Council will decide on Tuesday whether to give local attorney Mike Weaver funds from the city’s tax allocation district to demolish a car wash at the intersection of Jesse Jewell and E.E. Butler parkways.
Tim Evans, a member of the board that makes recommendations to the City Council on how TAD funds should be used, proposed to the council on Thursday that it approve $71,000 in funding for the parcel’s redevelopment. Weaver submitted the application in early February for a total of $275,000 of TAD funds.
“If this project were anywhere else in Midtown, we might not necessarily even do this,” Evans said. “But because it has such a high-visibility position at that corner, it deserves some attention.”
If the council takes the TAD advisory committee’s recommendation as Evans presented it Thursday, Weaver would be the first to receive public funding under the tax district’s provisions.
The district was established in 2006 as a tool to spur redevelopment on unsightly properties in the city’s most prominent areas.
The financing tool requires local governments to forgo increases in property tax revenues in the district, which comprises 270 acres of downtown and midtown real estate, and then use that money, the tax increment, to repay bonds they will issue to developers for improvements in the area.
In Weaver’s case, the city would not issue a bond for the funding. It would just reimburse Weaver from taxes that have already accrued in the TAD account.
“We can’t build his building for him — he needs to build a quality building,” Evans said. “But as far as what you see directly from the street, everybody that comes into Gainesville is going to see that. And we want to encourage that to be as good a quality as possible.”
If approved, the TAD money will be used for outdoor light fixtures, landscaping, sidewalks and the demolition of the current building.
“He’s going to have to pay for the installation, the labor, the wiring of the lighting,” Evans said, adding that the quality of the project is crucial.
Gainesville Community Development Director Rusty Ligon told the council Thursday that Weaver plans to demolish the current building immediately following council’s approval of the funding. The conditions on the applications require that Weaver begin work within 90 days of the council’s decision if he is granted the funding.
He would not receive the TAD funds until he gets a certificate of occupancy for the 10,800-square-foot building he plans to replace the car wash, Evans said.
“This isn’t an open-ended recommendation,” Evans said.
Evans said Weaver had agreed to the conditions, and City Manager Kip Padgett said the conditions set a standard that TAD funds were not free money for developers.
Padgett said the conditions would change from project to project.
“What we’ve done with this TAD application is try to set up a standard where, like (Evans) said, we’re not funding your development for you. We’re going to help you make it successful and make it look good for the city, but you’re also going to have some conditions that you abide by,” Padgett said.
Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras said she was glad the funds had parameters.
“I hope everybody will see the validity of our decision to establish a TAD district, so it makes it better for all of us who live here,” Figueras said.
Councilman George Wangemann said he saw Weaver’s commitment to the project as a positive thing. Evans said Weaver’s project will substantially increase the value of the property, “well in excess of what the TAD investment is.”
“It’s not just removing blight from the city at a key entrance and a highly-visible corner, but it’s going to improve that lot to the surrounding standards,” Evans said.