PALMETTO -- Redevelopment continues to move forward in Palmetto as property owners are taking advantage of grants, incentives and tax credits made possible through the newly designated brownfields area.
In an effort to continue to have success with the local incentives it offers, the Palmetto Community Redevelopment Agency is proposing amendments to its incentives to be more effi
cient and make sure they are maximizing their potential. The first to be amended is the Downtown Commercial Core Redevelopment Incentives package.
"The largest change is the addition of nonprofits," CRA Director Jeff Burton told the CRA Advisory Board at a public meeting Tuesday night. "We have come up with a solution that they can pay a fee in lieu of taxes."
Generally these incentives are available only to property owners, yet the CRA wants to include nonprofits since they can be large job creators.
Burton explained, "It would pay a fee equivalent to the what the property appraiser would tax the improvement for the lifetime of CRA, 30 years."
These nonprofits would also then be eligible for additional incentives through the state of Florida's Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus Refund that gives applicants a tax refund equal to 20 percent of the average annual wage of the new jobs or a maximum of $2,500 per job. The Downtown Commercial Core Incentive will also match an additional 20 percent for jobs created.
With the creation of the Palmetto Economic Enhancement District last December, it designated a portion of the CRA district as a brownfield area. The designation allowed for property owners to also be qualified for grants, tax credits and other incentives for redeveloping property.
A brownfield is land that was previously used for commercial or industrial use and is available for reuse but may need the clean-up of hazardous materials.
This district is comprised mostly of downtown Palmetto, mainly along 17th Street West between 11th Avenue West and Canal Road.
According to CRA director Jeff Burton, the district was created "to remove slum and blight as well as improve properties and build the tax base."
Creating the district allows for the use of CRA dollars but investors can also apply for state and federal money.
"We are layering the federal, the state and the local into one package so the private sector can maximize from developing in Palmetto," Burton said.
All this is in a big push to promote development and redevelopment.
"Any layer that we can add to entice employers to invest, it all means a better Palmetto," Burton said.
In September 2011 Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization received a $1 million brownfield assessment coalition grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. This grant allows the MPO to make assessments for local applicants to determine if there is petroleum or other hazardous materials on the property.
To date the MPO has used or committed about $608,000 of the grant money, much of which has been used in Palmetto.
According to grant manager Michael L. Maholtz, they are currently working with five property owners in Palmetto to assess their properties.
"We have made a good positive impact on the community," Maholtz said.