Community Redevelopment Agency

Dear Fellow Residents:

As you may well be aware, this last year, we annexed our first piece of property in Lake Clarke Shores history.  We undertook an enormous project in providing many with sewer access on Forest Hill Boulevard.  Our first commercial food provider, Dunkin’ Donuts is set to open up its doors very soon.  We are moving forward with plans to hopefully, one day, have intracoastal access thru the spillway off of the C51 Canal just east of the town. 

While we were exploring the intracoastal access opportunity, we met with the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council and their staff.  We started talking about what we can do to improve our commercial corridor which, as you all know, is just a short distance from Pine Tree Lane to Florida Mango on Forest Hill Boulevard. 

We started putting our heads together and we came up with an idea of why can’t Lake Clarke Shores have its own Community Redevelopment Agency?

Our Town Council asked Dr. Kim Delaney the Director of Strategic Development and Policy with the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council to assess whether the Town would benefit from a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).  Her findings indicated the Town and the businesses along Forest Hill Boulevard would benefit from our own CRA.  This information was presented to the Town Council on July 14th and the Town Council directed staff to partner with Dr. Delaney and begin the process of creating the Lake Clarke Shores CRA.

Further below, is an explanation of what a CRA is, how it works, and how it is funded, but most importantly, how it can positively impact our little Town.

Nothing is a done deal these days as we all know.  It is going to take much work by many people who are committed to making this happen.

Remember, we also need the approval and blessing of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners.  We will need your help in reaching out to our County Commissioners when the time comes so that we can show them that Lake Clarke Shores is really “the heart” of the county! 

It should be noted the recent “Heart of Palm Beach County” discussions, led by Palm Beach County Mayor Shelley Vana, concluded with two key priorities: the facilitation of redevelopment and corridor beautification. The establishment of a Lake Clarke Shores CRA would help advance both of these area-wide priorities.

Let me try and explain what a CRA is:

A CRA is a dependent special district that is established by local government for the purpose of carrying out redevelopment activities.  Such redevelopment activities and the legal formation of a CRA are made possible and governed under the Florida Statutes, Chapter 163, Part III.  These Florida Statutes outline qualifying community redevelopment activities and certain conditions that must exist in efforts to support a CRA creation.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • The presence of substandard or inadequate structures, and/or slum or blighted conditions
  • A shortage of affordable housing
  • Inadequate infrastructure
  • Insufficient roadways
  • Inadequate transportation and parking facilities  

In summary, a CRA assists the community to revitalize economically distressed areas or conditions that endanger life or property, in efforts to improve public welfare and increase the local tax base. 

I know many of you are thinking, how we are going to financially afford this redevelopment:

A CRA is funded through Tax Increment Financing (TIF).  Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is based on property valuation.  As property values increase and a portion of that increase is captured by the CRA.  TIF raises revenue for redevelopment efforts without raising taxes.

The dollar value of all real property in the CRA is determined as of a fixed date, also known as the “frozen value.” Taxing authorities, which contribute to the tax increment, continue to receive property tax revenues based on the frozen value. These frozen value revenues are available for general government purposes. However, any tax revenues from increases in real property value, referred to as “increment,” are deposited into the CRA Trust Fund and dedicated to the redevelopment area.

These tax increment revenues can be used immediately, saved for a particular project, or can be bonded to maximize the funds available.  Any funds received from a tax increment financing area must be used for specific redevelopment purposes within the targeted area, and not for general governmental purposes.  

While the major source of funding for the CRA will be through Tax Increment Financing, there will be better possibilities to receive federal and state grant funds, when available and eligible.  Redevelopment Revenue Bonds, program income and donations can also be other sources of funding.

Let me try and explain the CRA process.   Several steps must be accomplished prior to the development of the CRA.

1.     Initial Consideration – The process of designating a CRA begins with public meetings, where the value of developing a CRA is discussed before the local officials.

2.     Explore, Present and Adopt the Findings of Necessity– This process identifies the qualifying community redevelopment activities and certain conditions that must exist in order for the CRA to exist.  Once identified it is presented at a public meeting and adopted by council with a resolution.

3.     Create a Community Redevelopment Plan– The Community Redevelopment Plan is an implementation document, developed with public input that sets forth the Town’s vision for the redevelopment district.  The Plan describes the overall goals for the redevelopment in the CRA area, as well as identifies projects and programs the Town would utilize to attract economic investment and improve the district. 

4.     Create a Redevelopment Trust Fund – Establishment of the Trust Fund enables the Community Redevelopment and Economic Policy Analysis Division to direct the increase in real property tax revenues back into the targeted area. 

If we can make the CRA happen, Lake Clarke Shores is going to be invigorated like never before.  It’s going to:

  • Breathe new life into areas in need of revitalization and economic development.
  • Improve infrastructure (streets, parks, utilities), job opportunities and housing
  • Assist established business owners through improvement programs, such as façade grants, special events, streetscaping, lighting, parking, and signage
  • Create unity and a sense of community among residents, as well as a culture and entertainment
  • Provide affordable housing options and homeownership opportunities for area residents
  • Reduce crime rates
  • Bring about clean and safe environments through the redevelopment of storm water management systems
  • Increase property values

Please give me your feedback as all of us on the Town Council believe this is the right thing to do, it’s the right time, but more importantly it’s right for all of us.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.  Please reach out to all of us on the Town Council and let us know what you’re thinking.   There is an old Lebanese saying: “If you don’t talk to me, I don’t know what you are thinking.”  I look forward to talking with all of you.  You can reach me on my cell phone at 561-762-1969.

If you want to reach out to any of us, just remember Florida has a very broad public records law and anything you send to us is going to be subject to a public records request. However, we welcome the opportunity to hear from you. 

We owe much credit to our staff, who, under the capable leadership of our Town Administrator, Dan Clark for the last four years has truly created a very cohesive and well-oiled machine whose efficiency surprises no one.  We are very fortunate to have the staff we have.  The next time you come into Town Hall - Say Thank you! They will appreciate your kind gesture.

I think we are very fortunate to live in such a “beautiful slice of paradise!”

All the best,

 

Mayor Robert M. Shalhoub