Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

Extension of taxing method means more money to improve Dunedin's downtown

DUNEDIN — Downtown Dunedin's Main Street has evolved over the last two decades from a state road lined by a few faded buildings to a winding, walkable street featuring appealing restaurants and shops that attract residents and tourists.

That positive change will continue thanks to the Pinellas County Commission's approval of a city request for a 15-year extension of its Community Redevelopment Agency tax increment financing beyond 2018.

Under tax increment financing, any taxes collected on increased property values can be plowed into redevelopment of the downtown rather than going back to into local government coffers.

In Dunedin's case, that means roughly $4.3 million could be raised for beautification projects over the course of the 15-year extension, which expires in 2033.

"Having that steady revenue source ... has really served us well," said Dunedin economic development director Bob Ironsmith, adding that the money helps make downtown nice for residents and tourists, as well as setting the stage for growth.

"It creates a fertile environment for private investment to come in and do adaptive reuse on buildings," Ironsmith said. "We still have 20 acres of land downtown so there's a lot to be done."

First implemented in 1988, Ironsmith said, the city and county's combined CRA programs have already raised nearly $6 million for Dunedin through 2011. The transformation has been amazing.

In the 1980s, Main Street downtown was designated as State Road 580 and "had no ambience, no landscaping, benches, lighting," Ironsmith said. "It really just catered to moving traffic from point A to point B, and nothing else."

SR 580 was rerouted around downtown, removing high-speed traffic. Today, visitors to Main Street are greeted by brick sidewalks, decorative lighting, shaded benches and dozens of storefronts and restaurants.

The CRA funding has contributed to enhancements to the Pinellas Trail, downtown parking and the undergrounding of overhead utility lines.

City officials say their partnership with the county will help them implement revitalization efforts under the recently approved 2033 downtown master plan, parking study and downtown waterfront corridor study.

The first major initiative, Ironsmith said, will be the construction of two mixed-use parking structures with retail envisioned for the west and east ends of Main Street. Other key projects include marina improvements and a promenade linking downtown to the waterfront.

The extension of the program past 2018, Ironsmith said, is especially timely given the strain on city budgets everywhere.

"Each million dollars of new taxable value translates to $8,300 (in revenue). So the better the downtown does and the more taxable value goes up as the result of an additional project, the more money goes toward the CRA," Ironsmith said. "It's a big deal."

In 2025, Pinellas County will do a mid-term review and determine whether to honor the funding extension through 2033.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at [email protected], (727) 445-4153, or on Twitter @KeyonnaSummers. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

   
Comments
Clearwater and Tampa want to turn flushed water into drinking water. Is it safe?

Clearwater and Tampa want to turn flushed water into drinking water. Is it safe?

Twenty years ago some people called it "Twerp." Others, wrinkling their noses, called it "toilet-to-tap," or something more vulgar.In 1998, Tampa tried to boost its drinking water supply by supplementing it with treated wastewater, calling the progra...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
The Daystarter: Are Democrats nervous about Nelsonís chances versus Scott?; neo-Nazi leaderís video from prison causes concern;

The Daystarter: Are Democrats nervous about Nelsonís chances versus Scott?; neo-Nazi leaderís video from prison causes concern; "toilet-to-tap" makes comeback; plus St. Pete Pride this weekend

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.ē Itíll be partly cloudy with scattered showers and thunderstorms during the afternoon, with highs in the upper 80s to lower 90s, according to the National Weather Serviceē Keep these l...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editorís note: Ethan Hooper wrote todayís column to give Ernest Hooper Fatherís Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18
A St. Pete church opposes its own land deal. Will council go along?

A St. Pete church opposes its own land deal. Will council go along?

ST. PETERSBURG ó The Rev. Manuel Sykes wouldnít say last week whether he wanted City Council to reject a rezoning proposal that would let a developer build a drive-thru restaurant on his churchís land.He wouldnít mind, though, if a little divine inte...
Published: 06/18/18
At 61, he made his professional wrestling debut to help son cope with motherís death

At 61, he made his professional wrestling debut to help son cope with motherís death

A 16-foot wrestling ring and 150 rental chairs were set up on the basketball court of the Police Athletic League of St. Petersburg. Concessions were prepared in slow cookers.It was as far from the limelight as it was in distance from Madison Square G...
Published: 06/18/18
Fatherís Day on the water

Fatherís Day on the water

Luis Santana | TimesBoaters take advantage of the calm seas and warm weather to enjoy the waters near the Dunedin Causeway on Fatherís Day. Dozens of boats were beached along the shores of Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island State Park.
Updated: 10 hours ago
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administrationís move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.Itís also...
Published: 06/17/18
Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

NEW PORT RICHEY ó A motorcyclist and pedestrian both died in a crash Saturday night near Palmetto Road and U.S. 19, police reported.About 10:30 p.m., a St. Petersburg man, 41, was riding a 2012 Honda motorcycle north on the highway, according to the ...
Published: 06/17/18
For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

UPDATE, 11:37: Interesting decision by the Rays to move Adames to 2B today and reinstall Hechavarria at SS as he came off DL following Arroyo injury.Here is the Rays lineup:Duffy 3bBauers 1bRamos cCron dhAdames 2bHechavarria ssGomez rfRefsnyder lfFie...
Published: 06/17/18