Thursday, September 24, 2009
Aproposal to merge Marina’s three redevelopment areas is stirring controversy over whether the plan will put the city’s downtown on the hook for paying developers of The Dunes on Monterey Bay.
Last summer, the city committed nearly $106 million to the developers, Marina Community Partners, to spur construction on Fort Ord. The merger would fiscally combine the Fort Ord, downtown and airport redevelopment areas.
“There are no protections in the fiscal merger plan to stop tax revenues from downtown/Central Marina [from] being obligated to first paying off The Dunes reimbursement/debt before becoming available to spend on downtown,” says City Hall critic Quinton Roland in an e-mail.
Development Services Director Doug Yount says the redevelopment areas would share resources, not liabilities.
“The Dunes liabilities are only with The Dunes project,” Yount says. “That liability does not go to the other project areas after the fiscal merger.”
The city is looking to wrap up the merger before year’s end because the downtown redevelopment area is close to reaching its tax increment cap. “We definitely need to merge them so we don’t lose the money [downtown],” says Councilman Dave McCall.
The downtown area has a cap of $15 million, but the plan would give the combined areas a combined $3.6 billion limit. The amendments would also reestablish eminent domain for non-residential uses, which could prove handy downtown, where property is divided among multiple owners and the city eventually wants to break up the “superblocks.”
The merger would allow the city to borrow more money and send funds from the Fort Ord area, where three major housing development are planned, to downtown. “I think it’s a great idea if it’s going to help the downtown by transferring tax increment money to the downtown from The Dunes area,” says Mayor Bruce Delgado.
The redevelopment areas are expected to generate a net of $979 million in general tax increment and $607 million for housing through 2049. Downtown is projected to generate $962,000 in tax increment this fiscal year and steadily increase to more than $23 million in 2038. But this is assuming stalled housing projects resume.
Delgado says he wants to see some protections in the merger to ensure that money isn’t sucked away from downtown to pay Marina Community Partners. Yount says the assurances aren’t necessary, adding that property tax commitment, which runs through 2030, is only obligated if the project proceeds.
The city has planned several public hearings on the merger: an informational meeting Oct. 15; Planning Commission, Oct. 22; City Council, Nov. 3 and 17. Final adoption is expected Dec. 1, Yount says.