By Karl Dumas and Brian Miller
Every year in March, the California Redevelopment Association holds its Annual Conference and Expo to update keep its membership about redevelopment issues and activities. This year's conference was held in Southern California.Redevelopment was created by state law to allow governments to target tax revenues for the elimination of blight from designated areas, and to achieve goals of reconstruction and rehabilitation of residential, commercial, industrial and retail areas. Through targeted public investment in infrastructure, housing and economic development activities, redevelopment encourages new investment in deteriorated areas beleaguered with physical, environmental or economic conditions that have been barriers to new private investment.
Fairfield's Redevelopment Agency has five redevelopment project areas: North Texas Street, Regional Center (mall area), City Center (downtown), Highway 12 (which includes West Texas Street) and Cordelia. Redevelopment activities are funded by tax increment. Redevelopment does not raise the property tax rate or contradict Proposition 13. Instead, tax increment is generated from the new taxes received from new construction or the sale of property at increased value within the redevelopment project area. The redevelopment agency receives a portion of this increase (the increment), which is used to finance many of the agency's investments and development activities.
The State Legislature requires 20 percent of the tax increment generated from project areas be used to improve the supply of affordable housing. Recently in Fairfield, the agency assisted in supplying affordable housing through the development of 107 new homes at Providence Walk (Travis Boulevard and North Texas Street). The Agency used low/moderate housing funds to assemble parcels for project and then sold the property at market value to a home developer for redevelopment. This project replaces the dilapidated mobile homes and apartments of Ellsworth Court. The agency also provided funding for the Sienna development near Green Valley Road and Mangles Boulevard. The developers of these projects were required to reserve some of the homes for sale to moderate-income households.Redevelopment agencies also undertake retail projects.
The Fairfield Redevelopment Agency helped develop Solano mall in the 1970s, and then participated in developing Gateway Plaza (Trader Joe's), and Gateway Courtyard (Barnes & Noble) shopping centers.
One component of the annual redevelopment conference is an expo with exhibitors marketing their services and products. We visited the International Council of Shopping Centers booth, the global trade association of the shopping center industry with over 50,000 members in the U.S., Canada and more than 80 other countries. Its members include developers, managers, marketing specialists, investors, lenders, retailers and redevelopment officials. Here are some fun facts we obtained from the ICSC booth regarding shopping-center sales and the U.S. economy:
- In 2003, there were 12.4 million retail and real estate leasing or shopping center related jobs in the United States.n Estimates show one out of every ten jobs in the United States is shopping center related employment.
- Shopping centers generate nearly $2 trillion in retail sales annually in the U.S.n In 2003, shopping centers raised approximately $137 billion in sales tax revenue for local governments.
- From January through August 2004, shopping center industry employment expanded by 156,000 jobs and accounted for 10.9 percent of total job growth.
Economic Notes: An update from Fairfield City Hall is written by Brian Miller and Karl Dumas of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. They can be contacted at 428-7461 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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