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By Tom Paulson
City Editor 

City Commission Adds 30-Year Extension to Life of CRA

Community Redevelopment Area Revenue Will Guarantee $18.5M Loan

 

Last updated 10/13/2021 at 11:15am

a aerial view of a renovated downtown Lake Wales

Courtesy Dover Kohl and Partners

A re-envisioned downtown Lake Wales will be a leafy and inviting urban oasis. Buildings in white are existing. Buildings depicted in yellow are potential infill construction opportunities.

A 30-year extension of the life of the Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) will guarantee a continuing flow of revenue for community improvements, including street and sidewalk construction, lighting, street trees and more.

Community Redevelopment Agency funds are being used to pay for the Lake Wales Connected plan reconstruction and landscaping of Park Avenue and First Street, expected to begin shortly.

The CRA is funded by capturing about 90% of the City and County shares of "tax increment" created by rising property values and new construction. The Lake Wales CRA presently generates about $2.4M annually, a number projected to rise significantly in future years.

The CRA is expected to enter in a loan or bond agreement that will provide $18.5 million in ready funds to pay for the street improvements of the Lake Wales Connected plan. The action was essential to assure lenders that revenue will continue to come to the CRA to pay back loans expected to mature over a 20-year time frame. The present CRA would otherwise sunset in 2029.

The action came during Tuesday's City Commission meeting at which the enabling ordinance was adopted. The new lifetime was made possible by an act of the Florida Legislature, which recently created a general sunset of 2039, unless "the governing body of the city which created the agency approves its continued existence by a majority vote," according to a memo prepared by City of Lake Wales staff.

The Lake Wales City Commission also sits as the board of directors of the CRA under long-standing city policy.

 

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