Joseph Cranney, firstname.lastname@example.org; 239-213-6035 Published 5:39 p.m. ET July 24, 2017 | Updated 7:00 p.m. ET July 24, 2017
A Naples redevelopment panel on Monday reaffirmed its support for a $15 million downtown parking garage proposal, urging the City Council to borrow $20 million to pay for the garage and other projects.
The advisory board for the Community Redevelopment Agency voted 5-1, with member William Frantz opposed, to recommend the council fund the project with a long-term loan.
The 350-space parking garage proposed at Fourth Avenue South and Fourth Street South would require final approval from the council during September’s budget hearings.
The garage would provide a public benefit with its incentives for redevelopment toward the west end of Fifth Avenue South, member David Bartley said.
“It’s a means to redevelop additional buildings that are in that area,” said Bartley, a real estate broker. “Once those buildings are redeveloped, it increases the incomes to the CRA. The development side of it — it all comes together.”
With some buildings on Fifth Avenue that are more than 50 years old, the city’s CRA plan still calls for additional development on the street, CRA manager Roger Reinke told the panel during Monday’s 90-minute hearing.
Critics of the garage contend the city should cease using anti-blight funding from its CRA to pay for projects in the swanky downtown area.
Residents of the low-income River Park neighborhood told the panel Monday that the money intended for the garage should instead be used to help residents pay rising rents in the neighborhood’s private apartment complexes.
“Now I know what gentrification looks like,” said Antonio Dumornay, a resident of the Gordon River Apartments. “River Park says no.”
Earlier this year the council did agree to $120,000 in CRA-funded facility improvements for the area, including $40,000 in repairs to the walking trails at Anthony Park.
Also included in the upcoming year’s CRA budget is $50,000 for the city’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity to preserve River Park’s owner-occupied housing. The long-segregated community of more than 60 single-family homes was built in the 1960s.
The CRA, with a $3.8 million proposed 2018 budget operated separately from the city’s $43 million general fund, is financed by the incremental increases of taxable values in the city’s redevelopment district. The CRA is designed to pump those revenues back into the district with capital improvements.
The city projects its $3.1 million in CRA revenues in 2016 will go up slightly in the next fiscal year. Those revenues will continue to make millions available for capital improvements each year, the city contends, as much as a combined $114 million during the next 25 years.
Including issuance costs, a $20 million loan over 20 years would require about $1.3 million in annual payments, assuming a 2.75 percent interest rate, according to the city’s preliminary estimate.
“There will be more than enough tax revenue to make those payments,” Bartley said.
The CRA has about $1 million in annual debt payments, which are scheduled to continue for another five years.