Last Friday I provided City Council with a short synopsis on the status of the various elements of our downtown redevelopment efforts and given all the interest that the $20 million stimulus award generated throughout the community I thought it would be good to share it as a blog post as well.
1. PARTA Multi Modal Project – Following the $20 million award announcement from last week, a meeting has been set up for the engineers from all the respective agencies to begin to work through the $21 million grant application to figure out what aspects of the original request need to be cut out in order to stay within the $20 million budget. A meeting has also been set up for next month (March) for the engineers to meet with the grant administrators/engineers from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to begin to discussions on the grant terms and agreement. PARTA reports that their real estate representatives continue to work through the federal process for the land acquisition required for this project. Kent State has set up a web link for the grant award at http://www.kent.edu/news/announcements/success/mulitmodaltransportationcenter.cfm, the City is updating our capital projects page to include PARTA project information, and PARTA is also planning to add a web information source for the project on their web site as well.
2. Downtown Redevelop Blueprint – With the recent progress made on agreeing to the esplanade extension with Kent State, receiving the Multi-Modal Center grant award, finalizing of the Collective Intent Agreements with the private developers, and the completion of the Phoenix Project, we felt it was a good time to go back to the downtown redevelopment blueprint and update it accordingly. We have met a number of the existing business owners along Main Street to discuss their plans for expansion and we have offered the services of our planning consultant to reflect those plans on the revised downtown blueprint. As part of this effort we plan to re-convene the public stakeholders committee in the next month (March-April) to provide an update and receive feedback. The members of the former Kent State University Citizens Advisory Transportation Committee will also be invited to the stakeholder meeting since they were active in the multi-modal project design and advocacy.
3. Development Agreements – I believe we will be in a position to have the Collective Intent Agreement signed in the next week so we have engaged the legal staff to prepare the Development Agreements that will serve as the legal documents for the downtown projects. To that end we have also had a couple of meetings with the School District to begin to discuss the use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for the project. Our tentative target dates for the Development Agreements and TIF Agreements are the Summer of 2010. We have advised the private developers to plan to attend the March Planning Commission meeting for a conceptual presentation of the various elements of the project. We would expect the developers to submit their site plans for formal Planning Commission review in May 2010.
4. City Property in the Development Block – We are working to set a March closing date to purchase the last remaining parcels of private property from Mr. Arthur. In addition, we have contacted Dominion Gas to begin outlining a plan to get their gas sub-station relocated out of the block. Dan Smith has talked with the tenants of the currently rented properties in the block and advised them that we they need to begin to make preparations to find new business locations this summer so that we can proceed with our plans to initiate more building demolition perhaps as early as Fall 2010. We are currently having the buildings evaluated for any special environmental handling in preparation for demolition. The City and the University have drafted terms for a land exchange agreement and we have employed an appraiser to prepare the necessary land transaction documents.