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City proposing two new TADs for Midtown redevelopment

Columbus' Five Points area, where 13th Avenue, 17th Street and Linwood Boulevard intersect, is included in the West district, one of two new Tax Allocation Districts in the Midtown area being proposed by the city of Columbus.
Columbus' Five Points area, where 13th Avenue, 17th Street and Linwood Boulevard intersect, is included in the West district, one of two new Tax Allocation Districts in the Midtown area being proposed by the city of Columbus. mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com

The city of Columbus is proposing two new Tax Allocation Districts in the Midtown area. If approved by Columbus Council, the districts would be the fifth and sixth approved since voters authorized their use in 2014.

The two proposed districts are known as Midtown East and Midtown West.

The West district is the larger of the two, covering 942 parcels on about 325 acres. It is intended to support the development of higher density mixed-use commercial developments along Wynnton and Buena Vista Roads, 10th to 13th Avenues and Five Points, where 13th Avenue, 17th Street and Linwood Boulevard intersect.

The East district includes 61 parcels totaling 93 acres, and is proposed to support further commercial revitalization along the Macon Road Corridor in the eastern section of MidTown near Exit 6 of I-185. It is intended to support future commercial infill development surrounding the Cross Country Plaza and MidTown Shopping Centers.

Anne King, executive director of Midtown Inc., said her organization has been working with the city since the beginning of the year to create a Midtown Redevelopment Plan and the two TADs.

“We‘ve worked with city staff, property owners, potential developers and other stakeholders,” King said. “We believe creating two tax allocation districts can provide key financial incentives that will accelerate the pace of Midtown redevelopment.”

Ken Bleakly with the Bleakly Advisory Group, an Atlanta consulting firm, addressed Columbus Council last week during a public hearing on the proposed TADs. He said he didn’t see huge projects coming out of either Midtown TAD, but rather many smaller “in-fill type projects.” But he did say his firm estimates a significant return on an initial TAD investment.

“We estimated, looking at several of these areas, you could see up to $80 million of investment in these two TAD districts if there were an initial investment of about $7 million in TAD funding,” Bleakly said. “If we can stay anywhere near that ratio, we estimate that for every TAD dollar the city would provide in incentives, you would get about $11 in private investment.”

When a TAD is approved the city can issue revenue bonds to remedy infrastructure and environmental problems and other issues that might keep potential developers at bay. The renovations pave the way for investors to develop commercial and residential projects that increase revenue and can create jobs.

The extra tax revenue created by the development is then used to repay the revenue bonds over the life of the TAD, usually 20-30 years. Then the extra revenue goes into city and school district coffers. During the life of the TAD, the city and schools receive the same property tax proceeds from the district that they would have received otherwise, so TADs do not cut into existing revenue.

Council approved the city’s first TAD in December 2015. It involves the proposed Benning Technology Park, which is intended to attract high-tech defense contractors to the park, which will be situated near the Main Gate to Fort Benning.

Council approved the second, third and fourth TADs in mid March. They involve the Liberty District, Uptown Columbus and the area between TSYS and Bibb City, where the City Village project is planned.

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