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City accepting applications for grant to fund projects in south St. Petersburg CRA

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Petersburg is accepting applications for grants to fund projects designed to improve the city’s south Community Redevelopment Area.

Because this is the first year for the grants, city officials are expecting a large number of applications. Officials, who want to fund as many projects as possible, say applicants should prioritize the most important improvement needed for their property. The applications will be evaluated in the order they’re received.

Funding for the grants will come from TIF, or tax increment funding, money. That’s tax money generated from and earmarked for the CRA. The CRA is an area generally located between Fourth Street and 49th Street, from Second Avenue N. to 30th Avenue S.

Last year, the city developed an innovative, 30-year revitalization plan for the south St. Petersburg CRA. TIF grant funding is an important component of that plan. The TIF grant program is designed to help boost private investment by property owners and/or businesses in commercial and multifamily residential development in south St. Petersburg.

The CRA TIF funding amount anticipated for Fiscal Year 2017 is about $470,000 and will be distributed to qualified applicants in two major areas — approximately $282,000 for business and workforce development and about $188,000 for housing and neighborhood revitalization. Most of this will be in the form of competitive grants.

There are five financial assistance programs for this initial, first-year phase of the 30-year plan, including affordable multifamily housing development tax rebates — for developers of new and substantially renovated affordable multifamily housing in the CRA; and multifamily residential property improvement Grants, which reimburse approved applicants for eligible substantial exterior and interior improvements to affordable or market-rate multifamily housing in the CRA.

Under business development, programs include commercial site Improvement grants that reimburse commercial property owners who upgrade their building facades, landscaping, lighting, loading and service areas and other features of their sites visible from the public right of way. Commercial building interior and tenant improvement grants provide matching grants to commercial property owners for interior upgrades, focusing on projects that remedy degraded building systems and extend the economic viability of the building.

The commercial revitalization program offers grant funds to projects that enhance established business districts by redeveloping properties, decreasing vacancy rates, adding to the tax base, or creating jobs — improving the quality of life for surrounding neighborhoods through the removal of blight and revitalizing vacant or underutilized properties.

More information and applications for each of the five financial programs are available online, at www.stpete.org/SouthsideCRA.

A brief “CRA White Board” video illustrating the community redevelopment program and this grant funding process is available for viewing on YouTube.

In addition to CRA TIF-funded housing programs that are limited to multifamily properties (three or more units), the city offers various options to help improve single family homes such as Rebates for Residential Rehabs, emergency and/or basic home repair loans, and accessibility improvements. And for low-income, elderly or disabled residents, the Neighborhood Team offers help to renovate single-family homes, providing exterior painting, carpentry, access ramps, minor plumbing repairs and other eligible services.

A 10-member Citizen Advisory Committee for the South St. Petersburg CRA meets six times each year. Upcoming meetings for the CRA Citizen Advisory group are July 12, Aug. 9, Oct. 4 and Dec. 6 at City Hall, 175 Fifth St. N.

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