Can the Gateways Redevelopment Project Deliver?

February 25th, 2010  |  Commercial Property

The Santa Rosa Redevelopment Agency, after stumbling out of the starting gate, has taken the steps to start using redevelopment fund for the Gateways Project Area this year. But the question remains, “Can these funds help jumpstart the core business district of Santa Rosa and revitalize the project area?”

It seems so long ago that we heard talk of the Santa Rosa Gateways Redevelopment Project Area. The beginnings of this plan started in the early 2000s. The idea was to help property owners in the core business district make their properties more economically productive and help the City produce more affordable housing opportunities.

I served as the chairperson for the 15-member Community Advisory Committee from 2006 to 2007. We were to review and vote on the plan and then give recommendations to the City Council. Ultimately, the majority of the Community Advisory Committee did not recommend the plan. However, five members, myself included, voted for the plan and it was adopted by City Council.

Three years of court time, combined with an abundance of finger pointing, brings us to 2010. The City of Santa Rosa has lost general fund income from a downturn in sales tax revue during the last four years and wants those funds back. The Gateways Project Area businesses are now the focus of the Santa Rosa’s Redevelopment Agency to help provide more tax dollars.

Property owners within the boundaries of the Gateways can apply to use these funds to help clean up and improve their properties. In return, the Santa Rosa community benefits from an enhanced economic landscape. Sounds simple, but the devil is in the details. Which projects will surface to the top and deliver the goals laid out in the plan?

Redevelopment funds can be one tool to help property owners increase the worth of their investments. Small businesses and homeowners can take advantage of low-cost loans from the redevelopment agency that will provide for physical improvements to their properties. Large projects that use redevelopment funds will need to draw attention to the community. Their success will be determined by how well they meet the goals of the community.

The property owners that understand the pros and cons of using redevelopment funds will be better positioned to take advantage of the next economic upswing.

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