Council members are nearing a decision on a plan to create a single redevelopment district for the entire city, a plan that would add needed cash to the critical downtown district and strengthen powers of eminent domain.
The city currently has five redevelopment project areas, but the downtown-area project, where much of the city’s renewal efforts are focused, is running out of money, Councilman Peter M. Green said.
“We projected that a few years down the road, it would be drawing money out of the general fund,” he said. “Downtown area redevelopment is very important to the city. We desperately need additional revenues from the downtown area.”
The city’s $5-million Pier Plaza Project downtown has been 10 years in the making. It will transform a three-quarter-mile area around the pier into a community center with a grassy area, amphitheater, reconfigured parking areas and improved beach access. Construction is expected to begin in January and take nine months.
Some council members also envision a convention center and another hotel in the downtown area.
The council will review the plan Monday.
The plan would eliminate the two-thirds approval required from property owners in a redevelopment area before property can be condemned by the city. City officials say the new provisions would not apply to residential property or business property that also serves as a residence.
Downtown resident Jo Christian-Craig said she is concerned about the “potential for abuse” if the two-thirds-vote requirement is rescinded. “I don’t think we have a good history with eminent domain,” she said. “We should be using code enforcement, not eminent domain, if we’re so worried about blight.”