FAIRMONT — Turning the urban renewal target area into a Tax Increment Financing district could assist with drawing developers to downtown Fairmont and the surrounding area.

Increases in property tax dollars in the area could pay for street upgrades and development, landscaping, sidewalks, lighting, and water and sewer projects — all to make the .8 square miles more attractive and development friendly.

“It would be the critical infrastructure necessary to facilitate private development inside the urban renewal authority area,” City Planner Jay Rogers said.

The Fairmont Renaissance Authority discussed the advantages of creating the district when it met Tuesday afternoon.

After a meeting with Brian Helmick of the West Virginia Department of Commerce, Rogers said he felt encouraged that the FRA could move ahead with a request to create a TIF district.

In a TIF district, the city would be able to capture increases in property tax over 25 years to fund public improvement projects in a specific area. A rough estimate of how much the city could collect in TIF funds is about $1 million for public improvement for every $10 million in private investment within the district.

Instead of creating long-term debt through bonding, the FRA could use a “pay-as-you-go approach,” Rogers advised. Any increases in property tax captured each year could be used to pay for a specific project or trust funded until a specific project is identified.

“One of the key requirements in the (TIF) legislation is that you have to have a plan,” Rogers said. “Well, we have one.”

Last year, the FRA’s 10-year master plan was approved. The entity was created by city council to facilitate cooperation between public and private investment to redevelop a failing area. The FRA’s focus area includes six key areas — downtown, the riverfront and Merchant Street, Maple Avenue, High Street, Third Street and Fairmont Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue.

On the short list of projects is the renovation of the Deveny Building, the city fire and police station on Madison Street and the Masonic Temple, and the creation of a Jefferson Street Gateway into the downtown from the High Level Bridge.

Rogers said that the current administration is in favor of using the state-approved financing tool to revitalize failing neighborhoods.

“Out of this administration, you won’t see another Charles Pointe approved for a TIF. There won’t be anymore ‘greenfields’ development,” he said. “Their focus will be downtown revitalization — re-energizing the urban cores of cities.

“Their belief is that something like Charles Pointe could have happened inside of downtown Clarksburg,” Rogers said.

E-mail Misty Poe at mpoe@timeswv.com.


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