City Council has voted to extend the purchase agreement with DMark Development for the sale of five acres of city-owned land in the North End. The property is essentially the old Williams Ford location.
This is good news for the City as well as residents.
The purchase agreement was set to expire on Oct. 18, 2022. The agreement now has an expiration date of Oct. 18, 2023.
This gives the City and nearby residents the chance to ask questions and to get answers for questions about a proposal to build townhouses on the property. Residents have voiced concerns about drainage, traffic and how the development might impact the area.
This also means DMark will begin the approval process all over again. We don’t want to rush into this and we want residents to be comfortable with whatever is finally decided.
Some have suggested a commercial use for that location. In my power point presentation to Council, I indicated that the townhomes would produce more than $6 million in revenue over 15 years. The Parkway Shops, for example, produces $3.5 million over 15 years.
Traffic also is a concern. Estimates show that the townhouses might result in 36 trips in peak hour, while retail development would produce 139 trips in peak hour. Restaurants would produce 312 trips in peak hour.
I also discussed Tax Increment Financing. TIFs have been used by municipalities for more than 40 years. It’s a way to finance local development by taking advantage of the increase in economic value and the resulting increase in tax receipts from urban redevelopment. Using a TIF, the townhome project would produce an extra $1.8 million in revenue over 15 years. The City can use that revenue for roads, sewers, storm water abatement and parks, for example. City Council and I are exploring the possibility of using the revenue for private property sewer improvements.
Extending the purchase agreement allows the City to work with residents to explore these possibilities. Committees of city officials and citizens will study sanitary and storm sewer issues, detention basins, the TIF, how the development might impact businesses and even the design of the townhouses (contemporary design or traditional design).
In the meantime, the Memorandum of Understanding with DMark is still in effect and allows DMark to continue to market the land in the North End. The purchase agreement applies to only five of those acres.
This area is the gateway to Berea. We want to take the time necessary to ensure that we chose appropriate and attractive projects and projects that will benefit the City and its residents.