WHAT IS THIS PROJECT GOING TO ACCOMPLISH?
Phase I of the Downtown Revitalization Project includes reconstruction of Cedar Street between Fifth and Second Avenues. The project will remove and replace all elements of the street, storefront-to-storefront. Specifically, the transformation includes all new sidewalks, landscaping, irrigation, benches, stormwater features, bike racks, lighting, roadway, striping, signage, and other features. The image below represents what the project will look like upon completion.
HOW WILL THIS PROJECT BE FUNDED?
The Downtown Revitalization Project is funded through the Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency (SURA) and an Idaho Community Development Block Grant awarded by the Idaho Department of Commerce. In 1985, the Idaho state legislature adopted the Local Economic Development Act which authorized the use of tax increment financing. In simplest terms, under tax increment financing (or revenue allocation in Idaho), the taxes generated by increasing property values in an urban renewal District are used to pay for public improvements and other revitalization activities in that District.
At the time an urban renewal district is formed, the county assessor establishes the current value for each property in that district. This value is referred to as the ‘base’ value. Over time, as both public and private dollars are invested and development occurs in the district, property values tend to rise. The increase in value over the base is called the ‘incremental’ values, or increment. The taxes generated by this incremental value are utilized for redevelopment work by the urban renewal agency, if the City Council or County Commissioners have created a revenue allocation area to go with the urban renewal district. In Sandpoint, the City Council has created revenue allocation areas for the urban renewal districts it has formed, and therefore the tax increment is allocated to SURA. These funds are to be reinvested in projects either within or which provide public infrastructure to the district from which the funds originate.
Only revenues derived from the increase in property values within the Sandpoint urban renewal district after its creation go to support its activities. These revenues must be spent on projects that support revitalization. Formation of a district does not increase property taxes; it only reallocates where the tax revenues go if property values increase. The SURA was established by City Council in 2005 and is led by a volunteer Board of Commissioners comprised of community leaders appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING DOWNTOWN?
The City of Sandpoint and its contract engineers are in the process of designing the next phases of the project which will include improvements primarily along First Avenue, similar to the transformation on Cedar. The public will have an opportunity to ask questions and provide input on this portion of the project later this summer before the design is finalized. Phase II construction on First Avenue is scheduled for 2019.
In addition, beginning in late August or early September of 2018, the sewer main and associated laterals will be replaced along First Avenue, north of Church. More information regarding the sewer project will be available later this summer.