By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Time to saddle up on Urban Renewal

Access to funds for McMinnville’s 2013 Urban Renewal Plan is exceeding the most optimistic expectations.

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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This city-adopted program authorizes $30 million for development projects over 25 years. Sooner than predicted, McMinnville will be able to incur major project indebtedness for downtown streetscape, parking, property acquisition, public infrastructure and other identified UR missions.

Urban Renewal funding begins with a freeze on property taxes going to government from a defined area, in this case a combination of McMinnville’s extended downtown and its new Alpine district. For up to 25 years under McMinnville’s plan, tax increases from the Urban Renewal district can be diverted into planned development projects — thus, the funding phrase, “tax increment financing.”

Taxpayers in the district pay the same, but governmental bodies receive less. The annual 3 percent increase of taxes on existing properties provides base funding, but the actual turbo-boost comes when new developments begin contributing 100 percent of their property taxes to Urban Renewal.

In McMinnville of 2013, there was limited anticipation of major new downtown developments. So, organizers and city officials added a future-looking Alpine district to the Urban Renewal mix, recognizing that developable lands in that area provided extra opportunities for new construction.

The city jump-started those opportunities by improving the south end of Alpine Avenue, financed by an Urban Renewal loan and a share of the city’s transportation bond. That strategy has paid off with one major project in the area, but there still is a long road to full development of Alpine.

Core downtown interests, however, have leaped into the breach.

In 2013, we knew about plans for the downtown KAOS development, but we didn’t foresee a new Atticus Hotel. We didn’t know about renovation/expansion of the Taylor-Dale building, and we didn’t know Harold Washington and partners would develop a large new commercial building between Baker and Adams. We had no clue that First Federal would build the stunning new banking headquarters unveiled to the public this week.

Tax increment financing first produced $85,000 in 2014-15, jumping to $121,000 the following year. That annual number rose in three subsequent years to $179,000, $206,000 and $216,000, and for 2019-20, the UR funding is forecast to be $303,000.

Tax increment financing will take predictable quantum leaps in years to come as new developments evolve. It’s time to determine if the city, its Urban Renewal Advisory Committee, the McMinnville Downtown Association and district property owners are ready to prepare the best possible plans for future developments.

Comments

gregtompkins

Some have laughed at me for suggesting this but with as many people who are flooding into our county we should get high rises in downtown Mac and also build a cluster of them in Springbrook Newberg and use those two points as passenger train stations into downtown Portland.

Don Dix

gregtompkins -- high rises in downtown Mac? The dangling pinkie crowd would never agree to such an invasion of their turf.