by Lauren Krupar
Cuyahoga Falls -- City officials said potential tax incentive agreements "specifically targeted for the State Road Shopping Center" will increase development and investment.
Council is set to vote on an ordinance June 25 that would expand the boundaries of the city's northern community reinvestment area to include the State Road Shopping Center and parts of State and Graham roads.
The community reinvestment area allows for properties in those boundaries to apply for tax abatement agreements.
"We're trying to encourage development in areas that have not seen development in the past," said Jennifer Syx, deputy director of the city's community development department. "This is specifically targeted for the State Road Shopping Center."
City officials, including the mayor, have repeatedly said the center needs to be redeveloped.
"We're not going to rest until something of a significant nature occurs for the State Road Shopping Center," Mayor Don Robart said earlier in the year.
In December, Council, at the urging of the city administration, approved a new definition of blight that could apply to the State Road Shopping Center. If an expert declares the center blighted, the city could purchase it by eminent domain and redevelop it.
Syx said the CRA expansion, possibly a step toward that redevelopment, would provide tax incentives for commercial growth and reinvestment at the "dozens and dozens" of businesses located within the proposed expansion.
"It's an endless opportunity for those seeking redevelopment," Syx added.
Any qualified project in a properly zoned area would be eligible for the CRA incentives, Syx said. To be qualified, there must be "real property improvements" to the site such as constructing a new building, and large renovations or existing buildings, Syx said.
Factors in deciding if a project is eligible also include the total investment, the annual payroll and job creation or retention.
Commercial areas are not the only properties that could benefit, Syx said. In mixed-use areas, such as the State Road Shopping Center, a building could have a commercial business on the ground floor with condos above, she explained.
In addition to the State Road Shopping Center, the new boundaries would include several parcels on the south side of Graham Road at Oakwood Drive near the corporation line and on the west side of State Road after the intersection with Graham Road.
The parcels include commercial and mixed-use zoning.