Mayor proposes “shared success” development fund for distressed areas

mayor-2Mayor Sly James today proposed using payments that developers give the city in lieu of taxes to build a fund for projects in city areas designated severely distressed.

It’s called the shared success fund, he told the council planning and zoning committee.

“In its simplest form, the fund is designed to share the economic development success of some parts of our city with all parts of the city,” he said.

Revenue from participating development projects like those downtown – James said totaling maybe $100,000 a year – would go to the fund. An advisory committee he appoints for it would select projects for the fund and recommend them to the city council.

The city could also try to add money to the fund from windfalls and other income, he said, and use the fund for difficult projects on the depressed east side and places like it.

Criteria would favor commercial developments, capital investments in commercial real estate, projects that generate jobs or have long-term impact.

Projects could not get fund money if they qualify for PIAC funds or are in the business of package liquor sales, firearms, scrap metal or are considered payday loan operations, cigarette or smoke shops, tattoo parlors or adult-oriented businesses.

James said the resolution would be introduced Thursday and assigned to committee.

Councilwoman Heather Hall of the 1st district questioned if the fund would be used in all six council districts.

Councilwoman Alissia Canady of the 5th district said the fund should be limited to the 3rd and 5th districts.

“If we’re going to make this a catalyst fund we need to put it in the area we need it most,” she said.

James said he did not want to go back to past years when everything had to be divided by six.

Those who administer the fund will recommend projects for severely distressed areas, he said.

“We have little pockets of nonsense throughout this city and big pockets in other places,” James said.

The fund will build up over time and help developers make hard projects profitable, James said.

It would be the start of another tool and not a quick cure for decades of blight, James said. “We’re not waving any magic wand – there’s not going to be some fairy that appears and turns houses into castles.”

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