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FEATURE: PART 1: City of Brunswick Tax Allocation District could lead to Historic Core Redevelopment

Category: Economic Development

PHOTO:  The proposed Tax Allocation District within the City of Brunswick, Georgia. 

By Lou Phelps, Brunswick Business Journal

August 31, 2017 – It’s been discussed for years.  And while many of Georgia’s older cities have taken advance of the opportunities available through the use of Tax Allocation Districts (TAD), the City of Brunswick has not.

But, Brunswick's Mayor Cornell Harvey seeks to change that

A report on the work done to issue Tax Allocation Bonds and use Georgia’s available Redevelopment Powers Laws, was released on August 11, 2017, prepared by the Bleakley Advisory Group.  Moving forward with the TAD was approved in July by a City appointed Commission.  

The report outlines the City’s rationale, boundaries, fiscal data and potential projects that could result from the formation of the City of Brunswick Tax Allocation District #1: Brunswick Historic Core.

Included is an executive summary of the key elements of the redevelopment plan, including the opportunity that is envisioned; how a TAD would reinvigorate the city’s unique waterfront and important commercial corridors of Gloucester Street, Norwich Street and Highway 17; and how a TAD can help to offset the decline in property values in the city by stimulating investment.

“Since the Great Recession in 2009, property values in the City of Brunswick have declined by 24%,” according to the report.

The Boundaries of the Proposed TAD

The proposed City of Brunswick Tax Allocation District #1 includes consists of 687 parcels totaling 481 acres, encompassing property in the Downtown Historic Core, along the city’s waterfront, along the Gloucester Street Corridor, and the along Highway 17 corridor running northward from the Downtown area, including the intersection with Torras Causeway northward to the city boundary.

The 2016 taxable value of property in the TAD is $28.8 million, which represents 8.95% of the city’s 2016 property tax digest of $321,612,543 million, which is well below the 10% limit on the amount of a city’s tax digest that can be included in its TAD districts, collectively.

The TAD is comprised of properties with redevelopment/infill potential that are along the commercial corridors coming into Downtown and which the city believes have the potential for future redevelopment.

All of the designated TAD parcels are contiguous or connected by a public right-of-way.

And, the redevelopment area complies with the Georgia Code definition of a ‘distressed area’ due to four factors:

1. The presence of high incidents of crime;

2. The presence of pervasive poverty;

3. High unemployment;

4. The presence of vacant and deteriorated structures; and

5. The presence of a high number of older structures with low values.

The Redevelopment Plan envisions nine potential catalyst redevelopment projects within the TAD area that reflect community objectives identified in the City of Brunswick’s 2008 Comprehensive Plan.

Based on the development of these hypothetical projects, it is estimated that there is the potential for $168 million of new market value to be created in the TAD at build-out, based on the valuation of comparable developments in the area and consultant prepared estimates.

Should allof this new development occur, it will lead to an estimated $63.4 million increase in taxable value in TAD #1, which would represent a 20% growth in City’s overall Tax Digest. This incremental increase in TAD #1 taxable value would have the potential to support up to $16.6 million in net TAD bond proceeds to support new development.

The goal is to complete all work by Jan. 1, 2018 in order to make final decisions on next year's tax base revenue plans. 

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