OrganizationCRA refers to ‘Community Redevelopment Agency’, and its purpose is to address slum and blight conditions. Any city or county can adopt a CRA organization per state law Chapter 163, and there are currently 178 CRA’s across the state. The steps for adoption of a CRA include:
- The designation of a distinct area of the City as the CRA area;
- The adoption of a redevelopment plan that specifies how CRA funds will be spent. The plan must follow the guidelines in state law; and
- The designation of a base year.
The CRA is governed by a board, and in Lake Wales our City Commission also sits as the CRA Board.
How it is Helping UsAs noted above, the CRA achieves two important purposes:
- It brings a focus to areas that are in need of redevelopment activities; and
- It provides funding – from both City and County funds – that is restricted to the uses outlined in the redevelopment plan.
CRA funding is used for development incentives and capital improvements (such as street, water, and sewer improvements), as well as the work of several staff members and consultants involved in redevelopment efforts.
What it will do in the FutureThe CRA has partnered with the Chamber’s new Redevelopment Steering Committee, and it is anticipated that this partnership will bring a new focus to the CRA: the use of funds to finance improvements that will be specifically designed to facilitate the expansion of an existing business or the location of a new business in the redevelopment area. The expansion or new business will in turn result in a higher tax base, and the higher taxes paid will go to the CRA to pay off the debt that the CRA used to finance the improvement. The key to this effort is planning, and the first of several studies to identify projects and opportunities is now underway.
The future for redevelopment in Lake Wales is very promising!