The NDDC-led initiative on In-fill and Redevelopment moved to the next phase as the Four Economic Development Partners agreed to present the work plan to their boards for formal adoption.
Board and staff members of the NDDC, EDA, and Chamber of Commerce, along with a staff member of the NEC, joined by a number of commercial property owners and the Mayor of Northfield, reviewed the work plan resulting from the series of summits on in-fill and redevelopment held over the past few months on Saturday morning and gave it an initial “thumbs-up”.
The Partners, stating that their organizational priorities for 2009 include some of the tactics identified by the stakeholder input and that implementation efforts are underway, expressed their belief that the greater the coordination and collaboration of our efforts, the greater the efficiency and effectiveness in our outcomes.
The work plan, or “Matrix”, is a focusing and structuring of the one hundred ideas gathered at the three summits and, in its full format, includes assignment of responsibilities, time-lines, and outcome measures. It is summarized below in a table or view/download the PDF:
The NDDC hosted its first Block Head Gathering of 2009 yesterday. The topic was Economic Expansion. More specifically, the discussion focused on obstacles to and tools for In-fill Development and Property Redevelopment.
Pictured here are NDDC Board Member Jeff Hasse and former NDDC President Mary Rossing, catching up on local news before the meeting started. Chamber President Hasse and Northfield Mayor Rossing were joined at the Gathering by Council Members Betsey Buckheit and Rhonda Pownell, EDA Members David Van Wylen, Victor Summa and Steve Engler, City Staff Joel Walinksi and Jody Gunderson, Planning Commissioner Alice Thomas, Building and Business Owners Julie Bixby, Todd Byhre, Blake Abdella, Kiffi Summa, Joe Grundhoefer, and Mark Quinnell, and NDDC Board President Keith Covey.
Several of the attendees described challenges that they had faced while pursuing economic expansion. While acknowledging that there may have been imperfect processes in the past, Rossing, Thomas, and Walinski expressed hope and/or confidence that many changes had been implemented or were underway which should greatly improve, through speed, clarity and consistency, the process.
Mayor Rossing encouraged business and building owners who had encountered such frustrations with the economic development process to share them with her. Mary can be found most days at Present Perfect, 419 South Division Street.
The gathering concluded with a brief discussion of tools for economic expansion. The remarks focused on addressing issues raised in the discussion of obstacles. Walinski announced that Gunderson would work as an advocate for projects within the City’s process and Rossing suggested that the City should consider providing grants or no-interest loans to address additional costs generated by the building official’s interpretation of the construction codes.
All of the participants seemed to agree that improving our processes is an on-going effort. Discussing the problems is a start, devising and implementing proposed solutions is the next step, and evaluating the results completes the cycle.
Yes, there’s a new one…and it went up just in time for ArtSwirl. Bart DeMalignon and Jim Bohnhoff put up this cool “Art” sign on the Grezzo Gallery Building. Local art sign critics Chip DeMann and Maggie Lee seem to approve.
Okeh, now back to your regularly scheduled (ArtSwirl) programming.
Today, Friday, among other things, there’s the Northfield Arts Guild Ballet Performance on the Cannon River Pedestrian Bridge, 6 pm, Storytelling: Real Lives Aloud at the Arts Guild Theater, 7:30 pm, and the Meredith Fierke CD Release Event at the Grand Event Center, 8 pm.
Tomorrow, Saturday, a portion of the possibilities includes the Artists’ Market in Bridge Square, 12 to 6 pm, Performing Arts on the Showmobile in Bridge Square, 1 pm to 9 pm, and the Downtown Gallery and Studio Crawl, 6 to 9 pm.
Then Sunday, there’s the Greater Northfield Studio Tour, 12 – 5 pm, including the Unveiling of “Between Earth and Sky”, and Politics and a Pint, at the Contented Cow, 6 pm.
The Northfield Downtown Development Corporation (NDDC) has been hearing about rising commercial property taxes for several years. Building owners have detailed the increases they’ve received and the economic challenges that these increases have produced. The NDDC took action.
The NDDC spent time reviewing these increases and analyzing their causes and effects. We identified three key issues in the property tax challenge:
A disincentive to invest in older commercial buildings
A disconnect between property taxes and building income
A growing inequity between the commercial and residential sectors
Former State Senator Tom Neuville proposed legislation to address the first issue. It’s called “This Old Building” and protects the property owner from being taxed on any increase in value resulting from investment in the building for a five-year period.
Through an introduction provided by State Representative David Bly, we met State Representative Paul Marquart, Chair of the Property Tax Relief and Local Sales Tax Division Committee. Representative Marquart has proposed legislation to address the second issue. We’re calling it “This Old District”, at least for now. It identifies special Districts of older commercial buildings and exempts those buildings from the statewide C/I property tax.
After working quite hard on this issue for several years, and seeing limited results, this latest step appears to be real and substantive progress. This proposed legislation can provide meaningful relief to older commercial districts throughout Greater Minnesota.
We are pleased to be making steady progress on the property tax challenge, with potential legislation to address the first two issues. The NDDC will continue to work with state legislators to try to find policy recommendations that will result in potential legislation to address the third issue in the property tax challenge.
Eight years of double-digit property tax increases has put our older commercial districts at extreme economic risk. By systematically addressing all of the related issues, we can find a comprehensive solution.
All three of these groups seem to believe that the experience of communities throughout the United States, and around the world, demonstrates that sidewalk dining encourages a pedestrian-oriented environment, helps to create a visually attractive atmosphere and streetscape, promotes expansion by existing businesses, and stimulates overall commerce in the community.
Together, step by step, we’re accomplishing great things.