City leaders hope to expand Highland’s business district by adding Glik Park and other areas to it, allowing for more redevelopment.
The business district was established in 2017 and amended in 2019, according to the proposal packet. Now areas north, central and south of the existing district as well as property adjacent to Frank Watson Parkway will be added to the district boundaries, totaling 31 parcels of property and rights-of-way.
“We are adding all of Glik Park and the (Korte Recreation Center); both both of the properties that recently went through the council with annexations agreements; and several properties that are looking at redevelopment,” said City Manager Chris Conrad.
Conrad said the discussion in part centered on the difference between a business district and tax increment financing district. A TIF district sets aside a portion of property taxes for redevelopment and incentives, while a business district uses an additional sales tax instead of property taxes for that redevelopment. The money raised in a business district is used for infrastructure and as reimbursements to developers, as an incentive to locate new businesses or renovate existing businesses within the district.
Conrad said this is why business districts are becoming a key economic development tool in areas looking to redevelop existing properties.
“The other benefit to (a business district) is that since it is sales tax, it is spread out across everyone who spends money in town, not just the residents,” Conrad said. “This tends to be a more fair way to spread infrastructure costs out across the business district in which the infrastructure is utilized by more than just the residents. Especially in a town like Highland, where we serve just about as many outside the city as we do inside the city.”
Indeed, there are 33,723 residents within a 10-mile radius of Highland, while the city population within three miles is only 12,484, according to economic development coordinator Mallord Hubbard.
Business districts can only be established in areas where there is economic, environmental or other forms of blight. The report presented to the council found buildings aged and deteriorated, some dating back to the 1800s; roads in disrepair with defective or inadequate street layout; and deterioration in parking areas and driveways. The area has not seen growth and development on its own, according to the report, and thus meets the definition for addition to a business district.
The additional tax will be imposed at 1% for up to 23 years within the business district.
A public hearing on the expansion of the business district is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, at City Hall.