Ashland considers urban renewal

The city of Ashland will spend $30,000 to $35,000 on a feasibility study to see whether urban renewal could be used to jump-start economic development at the former Croman Mill site east of Tolman Creek Road, along the railroad tracks in central Ashland and downtown.

The City Council approved the spending on a 4-2 vote Tuesday night. State law requires a feasibility study prior to establishing urban renewal districts.

Urban renewal districts typically are established on property that lacks infrastructure, is contaminated with pollutants or has aging buildings. The current assessed value of the property is identified. Property taxes on that base value continue to go into government coffers as usual.

Based on predictions of what the future value of the improved property could be, a city borrows money to fund roads, utilities, pollution clean-up, building rehabilitation and other improvements that could pave the way for economic development.

As the improved property gains in assessed value through the public and private investment that follows, those property tax gains pay off the debt the city took on to make the improvements.

Since the property tax gains would be going to pay the urban renewal debt, they could not be used to fund operations such as police and fire service, park maintenance and street repairs in other parts of town.

Urban renewal districts typically sunset after 20 to 25 years. At that time, the property tax gains flow into government coffers — ideally at far greater amounts than they would have done without the urban renewal improvements.

"You do the public investment to trigger the private investment," City Administrator Martha Bennett said.

Bennett said the city doesn't have funds to pay for roads and other infrastructure improvements that would encourage businesses to move to the former Croman Mill site.

The mill site as well as land along railroad tracks near A Street are the two largest blocks of underdeveloped property in Ashland.

In August, the City Council approved a Croman Mill site redevelopment plan that details infrastructure needs and shows where light manufacturing, office, retail spaces, restaurants and housing could be located.

— Ashland Daily Tidings

Share This Story