Potential redevelopment areas to be examined

The Redevelopment Agency will formally ask the Planning Board to study potential areas of the city that could be designated in need of redevelopment in the future.

“We’re starting to run out of real estate in the central business district,” Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Leonard Bier told commissioners during tonight’s Redevelopment Agency meeting. The process required by state law is to request the Planning Board to study whether additional areas might be in need of redevelopment.

Once an area is designated for redevelopment, the Redevelopment Agency has authority, according to Bier, but only the Planning Board can study and declare an area in need of redevelopment. Depending on how the Planning Board moves forward, if areas are identified, Bier said they could be designed by sometime next year. First, the board would have to engaged with a planning firm, he said.

Commissioners had no questions or comments before approving a motion by a 5-0 vote to formally make the request.

Declaring an area in need of redevelopment is “meant to encourage and assist redevelopment, consistent with goals and objectives, including upgraded structures and introduction of uses appropriate to a specific area.” It also allows for the use of eminent domain and potentially offer tax abatements, such as Payments In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT).

That was the process followed by the city almost 20 years ago, declaring the Central Business District Redevelopment Area and the Lower Main Street Redevelopment Area in 1998. The two areas were combined three years in addition to assorted amendments over the years consolidated into a revised redevelopment plan.

In 2008, there was some initial brainstorming within the Redevelopment Agency about other potential areas in need of redevelopment — including Lincoln Plaza and the area of Monroe Street across the river from downtown — but those discussions never got as far as a formal request to the Planning Board. There are no specific areas the board will study, Bier said, but will examine the entire city to determine whether there are potential areas for redevelopment.

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