City begins process to expand downtown district, tax reinvestment zone boundaries

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City Council approved a resolution Aug. 26 to allow city staff to begin amendments to the citys ordinances that would expand the Downtown Overlay District and the downtown tax increment reinvestment zone, or TIRZ.

The expansion to the overlay district includes about 2.5 acres of city-owned properties on the west side as well as about 3 acres of privately owned properties, Georgetown Historic Planner Matt Synatschk said.

One of the recommendations from the [Downtown Master Plan update] was to expand the overlay to include the city-owned properties that are on the west side, he said. We decided at that point if there were other property owners that were interested that we would move forward with including them as well.

Synatschk said the expansion will allow those properties to use the citys mixed-usedowntown zoning that is restricted to properties within the district.

[The mixed-usedowntown zoning] is a little more flexible than some of our other zoning districts, he said. It reflects the historic character of downtown as businesses and residences grew adjacent to each other.

The city-owned properties included in the expansion are part of the proposed Downtown West civic center project that looks to consolidate several city offices into one area. City Council has not yet finalized those plans.

We felt strongly as we move forward with the Downtown West civic center that the city projects need to be under the same requirements as any other project in the downtown overlay, Synatschk said.

Plans also include extending the boundaries of the downtown TIRZ to match the overlay district boundaries as well as extending the life of the TIRZ, which was set to expire in 2029, he said.

A TIRZ is a special taxing district that caps property values from the date when the TIRZ is established. Any additional city property taxes collected on the increased values are put into the TIRZ fund. Those dollars can only be used to fund improvements, such as roads and other infrastructure projects, in the zone.

It would be valuable to extend the life of the TIRZ because the city is making a conscious effort to maintain the downtown and maintain a strong presence in downtown with the new Downtown West, Synatschk said.Our plan was to extend the life of the TIRZ in order to allow the money to be there to fund public-private partnerships and also to support the infrastructure improvements as we go forward.

The TIRZ generates $150,000 to $175,000 a year, he said.

The amendments are expected to go to the Planning and Zoning Commission on Oct. 7 and be presented to City Council for approval in October.

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