Redevelopment is good for Winter Park

There has been lots of screaming and yelling about redevelopment over the past several years. How about understanding the real impact of redevelopment on our quality of life and financial security? Look no further than the Winter Park Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).

Our resident anti-growth militant Beth Dillaha has referred to our CRA as “a slush fund for developers.” Let’s explore that conclusion.

A CRA is a defined geographic area where incremental property tax revenue from both the City and County must be reinvested within that same area. Winter Park’s CRA area is roughly bounded by Webster, 17/92, Fairbanks, and Interlachen. Click here for a map. BE SURE to drive through the CRA and let me know if you find any of the redevelopment objectionable.

The Winter Park CRA began realizing incremental tax revenue in 1998. Between 1994 and the 2009 budget the assessed value of property within our CRA has risen from $194 million to $675 million and has generated over $15 million in incremental tax revenue. ALL that incremental tax money has been or is being reinvested within the CRA boundaries. In addition to current project spending the CRA borrows against future revenues to finance projects such as the planned community center in Hannibal Square. The expected incremental tax revenue for 2009 is over $3.2 million. Click here for the details.

Look again: In the past 15 years the CRA has generated almost a HALF BILLION dollars in taxable assessed value, has generated over $15 million in tax revenue, and is expected to generate millions more before the CRA is set to expire in 2027.

How has that money been spent? Good question. Here is a schedule from the City detailing CRA spending from 2002 through the 2009 budget. These projects and the spending are approved by the City Commission.

NOTE that the great majority of actual and planned CRA projects are providing SOCIAL support. SOCIAL funding is over $17 million while economic funding is just over $12 million. If you live in Waterbridge, Brookshire, Lakemont, Killarney, Orwin Manner, Timberlane Shores, etc. you might just be a bit jealous when you see this detailed list.

Summary Breakdown of CRA Program Spending 2002-2009 Budget

S = Social Spending       E = Economic Spending

Social Programs and Community Support

1,890,722

S

Business Programs and Promotions

610,378

E

Affordable Housing

3,475,244

S

Streetscape Improvements

6,198,852

E

Capital Projects – Heritage & Community Centers

10,647,966

S

Capital Projects – Welcome Center & Related

1,882,276

E

Capital Projects – Parking Enhancements

2,000,781

E

Capital Projects – Parks & Rec.

1,057,245

S

Capital Projects – Misc

709,248

E

Misc Studies, Matching Grants – Social

204,250

S

Misc Studies, Matching Grants – Economic

761,054

E

So, is the CRA a “slush fund” for all those greedy developers, or it is a wise an prudent long term investment that benefits Winter Park and especially West side residents? The facts are clear as is the blind dogma of those who so stridently oppose redevelopment in downtown Winter Park.


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