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How much ‘fourth side of the square’ project is seeking in tax incentives from Gainesville
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Parkside on the Square was set to be built in the area near the new parking deck, but the plan fell through after Tim Knight, a developer, canceled the plans. Now known as Gainesville Renaissance, to project is seeking large tax incentives from the city. - photo by Austin Steele

Gainesville Renaissance, the multi-use project that would fill the fourth side of the downtown square, could be getting a boost from a city tax incentive program.

Developers are asking the city for about $3.35 million in Tax Allocation District funding, which according to City Manager Bryan Lackey is the largest request the TAD committee has seen.

The committee, which includes city and county government officials and some community members, decided to table a vote at its meeting Tuesday. The committee will have to meet next week, then send a recommendation to the Gainesville City Council for the Council’s Dec. 17 meeting. The Council makes the final decision.

The $22.4 million project will include 15,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space on the ground floor, 15,000 square feet of office space on the second floor and eight condominiums on the third floor. Developer Fred Roddy said Tuesday that while no one has officially signed on, the project has gotten some interest from both potential residential and commercial occupants.

Groundbreaking will likely be in spring 2020 and the project should be ready around August 2021, Roddy said.

Roddy said the half-acre property is expected to be worth about $19 million when the project is done. That means developers would initially take a loss that could be mitigated with some TAD funding.

“This is not a request to put us into an economic favorable position. … It’s actually just to get our capital back,” Roddy said.

Without TAD funding, the loss on the project would be $3.4 million, Roddy said. If the project gets the opportunity to participate in the TAD, the loss would only be about $58,000.

Roddy said the goal isn’t to turn a profit. The project is a collaboration between Roddy, Doug Ivester and The Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation. Ivester is from the New Holland area of Gainesville and is a former Coca-Cola chairman. The Ivesters’ philanthropy focuses on Gainesville and Hall County.

“We are part of a much bigger picture in Hall County. … We see this project as one more project in the bigger picture of things, how we’re giving back to Hall County and Gainesville,” Roddy said. “We think that this project is going to be something of regional significance, where people will say, ‘have you been to the square in Gainesville and seen that building?’”

City staff has recommended that the project receive the requested $3.35 million in TAD funding. The city would pay the increment that is generated by the project for a period of 15 years or until the money is reimbursed, whichever comes first. 

The Midtown Tax Allocation District, which includes the downtown square, incentivizes developers by allowing them to use property tax payments toward the development itself. When a property is developed, property taxes on that land are expected to go up, so the city would collect more revenue from the property. Developers who participate in TAD programs can use that increase to their advantage. Extra dollars from the increase go into a fund that can be used to pay for improvements. 

Gainesville adopted its midtown TAD in 2006. Georgia adopted state TAD law in 1985.

Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams, who serves on the TAD committee, said he would like to see a more detailed projection of what the TAD fund would look like over 15 years. Other committee members also voted to table a vote on the project. The next meeting has not been scheduled yet.