TWINSBURG — In an effort to take advantage of a 2016 state legislative act, city officials are looking at creating a downtown redevelopment district to rehabilitate historic buildings, create jobs and encourage economic development.

During City Council’s caucus meeting Jan. 8, Director of Planning and Community Development Larry Finch explained procedures for creating such a district. He said the rules and procedures are similar to those which apply to tax increment financing districts.

The 2016 act allows a municipality to exempt up to 70 percent of the increased value of parcels in the DRD from property taxes, and requires parcel owners to make service payments. 

Revenue derived from the service payments must be used for specific economic development purposes. 

Finch said each DRD must consist of no more than 10 acres, and there must be at least one building that is either on the National Register of Historic Places, locally landmarked or recognized as being historic.

Finch said Twinsburg’s downtown has two such buildings — the First Congregational Church and the Twinsburg Historical Society’s stone museum (originally the Twinsburg Institute).

He noted 10 acres around the church would be the most likely area to create a DRD. The area would be to the west and south of the church along both sides of Route 82.

"There are some properties in that zone which could benefit from creation of the district," said Finch. "One of them is the Chamber of Commerce building beside the church, which the city has proposed handing over ownership to the historical society."

Since a consultant has recommended several upgrades to the Chamber building, those could be financed by revenue from the DRD fund, as could improvements to other structures in the district.

Included in the favored 10-acre district are some older homes and commercial structures which Finch said could be demolished or rehabilitated, plus two lots owned by the Community Improvement Corp., where homes recently were demolished.

Finch said the fund that would benefit from the service payments would be managed by the city, and could generate about $2.3 million over a 10-year period (about $239,000 per year).

"This zone has great potential for redevelopment, and the time is right for creating the district since the valuations of the area’s properties are at low levels," Finch said.

The first step in creating the DRD, Finch said, is to draft an ordinance which defines the area, how many years the district would exist and includes an economic development plan.

A public hearing is required before legislation is approved. Finch said once the legislation is in place, the city can begin negotiating with property owners in the district about service payments.

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 Ext. 4189 or klahmers@recordpub.com.