Sometimes community leaders use terms that many of us aren’t familiar with. One of those terms is a CRA. Positively Osceola has been featuring City of St. Cloud leaders on our LIVE social shows to help the community better understand these very important terms and issues. We’re also sharing that information, provided by the City of St. Cloud here on PositivelyOsceola.com.
In this short informational series, we’ll explain what a CRA is, how it’s funded, what it does, what it can’t do, and answer some common questions about the CRA.
Part One: CRA 101: What is a CRA and what is St. Cloud’s CRA?
A Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is a tool cities and counties can use to implement redevelopment activities within a designated area to eliminate slum and blight. Established by the Community Redevelopment Act of 1969, CRAs are dependent special districts in which any future increases in property values are set aside to support economic development projects within the district. They were established to strategically improve the economic sustainability of an area through various projects. Examples of CRA projects include: rehabilitation of substandard or dilapidated buildings; reinforcement of downtown land use with additional mixed-use, housing, retail, and cultural/civic uses; coordinated signage to capture consistent city messaging; and multimodal transportation access.
Under Florida law (Chapter 163, Part III), local governments can designate areas as Community Redevelopment Areas when certain conditions exist and create a comprehensive master plan to address the area’s conditions.
The City of St. Cloud CRA was established in 2005. CRA Board members include all five City Council members – Mayor Nathan Blackwell, Deputy Mayor Keith Trace, and Council Members Linette Matheny, Chuck Cooper, and Dave Askew – plus resident business owners Dwight Loeding and Joel Davis.
The St. Cloud CRA is divided into three districts: Downtown, Central, and Gateway:
Downtown: Our vision for the Historic Downtown is to create a district that encourages economic vitality and growth with a unique mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment experiences. We want to ensure that redevelopment complements the historic and architecturally significant buildings, and adds to a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use main street environment.
Gateway: As the Western entry point into St. Cloud and the center of major retail activities, the Gateway District serves as a portal signifying arrival to the city and establishes a unique sense of place with high-quality architectural design and signature elements that distinguish the CRAs along the US 192 corridor.
Central: The vision for this district is to provide a welcoming passageway leading into the Downtown and Gateway districts, by creating a traditional urban district with smaller-scale businesses close together on smaller lots that enhance the overall image of the CRA.
Next week: CRA Finance: What is a TIF and how does that work? What kinds of projects can / can’t a CRA fund?