City gets look at project

CONYERS - The Conyers City Council got its first look Wednesday night at a proposed redevelopment plan that will create a Tax Allocation District in the Olde Town area.

The council is expected to formally adopt the plan at a special called meeting scheduled for Friday.

The districts are designed to spur economic development in a depressed area through private sector investment that would increase the value of the land as a result of redevelopment.

Any additional tax revenue would come from incremental increases over a specific period of time, reflecting a rise in property values.

While the plan is conceptual in nature and no developer is on board with a specific project, Gary L. Mongeon, vice president with the consulting firm Bleakly Advisory Group, told council members it is not unusual for a community to move forward in this manner.

"Most TADs are created without a developer on board and there is no risk to proceeding now," Mongeon said. "You don't have to be in negotiations with a developer to let people know you are interested in attracting them to your community."

Mongeon noted that with the ongoing discussion surrounding the expansion of the Rockdale County Judicial complex, having a TAD in place could help leverage private investment as part of the overall project and help fund infrastructure improvements such as a parking deck.

The proposed redevelopment area and tax district encompass historic Olde Town and many of the surrounding neighborhoods.

The area qualifies for one of the districts, city officials said, because its existing infrastructure - most notably parking - is inadequate to support continued economic health and growth. Furthermore, because of the CSX railroad right of way and road layout, the area has restricted access that can inhibit development.

Other factors include the number of vacant or partially vacant properties in the area, the lack of overall population growth in recent years and the desire to keep government offices in the area.

Mongeon also pointed out that more than 80 acres of land in the area is owned by the city, county or Board of Education and is underused.

John Fountain, chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, told the council Wednesday the DDA supported the creation of the TAD.

"This is one of the most effective tools the city can have in terms of its long-range economic health," Fountain said.

Mongeon said 32 cities and counties in Georgia have created tax districts and they have played a major role in the redevelopment of their communities, including Marietta, Smyrna, East Point and Acworth.

A development project that uses a TAD must still go through a series of public hearings and the city must coordinate with other local governing bodies, such as the school board and Board of Commissioners.

Ric Latarski can be reached at ric.latarski@rockdalecitizen.com.