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Mayor: Impending Redevelopment Vote is ‘Most Important Decision’

Mayor Joe Affronti has written a letter to explain what is at stake regarding the downtown redevelopment project. A vote on the developer’s final plan for the residential units is scheduled for Oct. 9.

Editor’s Note: A special Temple Terrace Redevelopment Agency meeting and City Council meeting regarding the residential portion of the downtown redevelopment project has been scheduled for Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Lightfoot Recreation Center.

Developer Vlass Temple Terrace submitted a third and final revision of the plan for this portion on Sept. 25. The council is expected to take a final vote on the issue at the Oct. 9 meeting.

From Temple Terrace Mayor Joe Affronti:

I am writing this letter in an attempt to answer the questions many of our citizens are asking regarding our redevelopment.

On Oct. 9, 2012, our City Council will cast votes, which will establish the future of our Amazing City.

After many months of discussions, there have been three main issues that separate the city and Vlass Temple Terrace LLC. These issues are:

  1. The ceiling heights of the ground floor of the multi-family building.
  2. The parking on the west side of the multi-family building (on Main Street).
  3. The triggering mechanism that will determine when the ground floor can be marked for residential rather than non-residential.

Ceiling Height

Vlass is proposing to build the ground floor spaces with 14 feet from floor to bottom of top floor. That, according to their architect, will result in a 12-foot finished ceiling height to accommodate commercial tenants.

Our staff contends that a 14-foot floor to bottom of the top floor could result in a finished ceiling height lower than 12 feet because of the unknown thickness or the trusses and other equipment that might be needed in between floors. Staff is specifying a 17-foot height from bottom floor to bottom of top floor.

Our city staff conducted a survey in June 2012, which shows that commercial finished ceiling heights for 19 properties in Temple Terrace range from 9 feet to 15 feet with an average of 12 feet.

Parking

The parking discussion involves Vlass’ proposal to have designated parking spaces on the west side of the multi-family buildings to accommodate those who will be leasing in these buildings both residential and non-residential. Vlass’ parking consultant presented a very comprehensive study that shows that there is adequate parking throughout the redevelopment area to accommodate all parking requirements, including special events. In addition, Sweetbay has given their permission to allow parking in their parking lot for special events.

Staff wants the parking on the west side of the multi-family buildings to be shared parking instead of designated parking as proposed by Vlass. Vlass contends that everyone leasing in that building would expect designated parking spaces. Staff has approved designated parking in the rear and north side of the multi-family units.

One City Council member expressed concern that there be adequate parking in the future as the redevelopment progresses.

In Vlass’ proposal on September 1, 2012, Vlass stated that he would guarantee that there would always be adequate parking. Vlass further provided a guarantee that if in the future parking is not adequate, he would provide it at his sole expense.

First Floor Marketing

The third issue is more complicated and involves a timeline for allowing Vlass to stop marketing the bottom floor of the multi-family building from non-residential to residential. Vlass is proposing to market the bottom floor for non-residential for six months after the third amendment is approved and would build out the rented space to accommodate its commercial tenant.

Staff recommended that the ground floor spaces be marketed for eight months after the third amendment is approved. In addition, staff recommends that Vlass designate and build 3,000 square feet of the ground floor of Building E as non-residential for a period of one year from the issuance of the certificate of occupancy, after which time the developer could convert them to residential. This would require that Vlass market the 3,000 square feet for almost two years after Amendment 3 is approved.

Alternatives

Vlass’ final proposal to approve Amendment 3 submitted on Sept. 25, 2012, is not significantly different than what was submitted in May. Consequently, our staff and Vlass will be at an impasse and our council will be asked to vote up or down on Vlass’ proposal for the third Amendment to the MDA (master development agreement).

Here is what is at stake: If we do not move forward, we will, according to the MDA, be required to pay Vlass LLC the amount of money they have invested in the property thus far. This amount will probably be in the millions based upon what has been done.

History shows that there will not be an immediate agreement on the amount owed to Vlass and it could drag on for many months. During that time, we will be accumulating substantial legal fees.

Until the amount is settled, we will NOT own the land and therefore will not be able to engage another developer—which would be our fourth!

The amount we pay will be added to our $24 million existing debt. We will not be generating any additional revenue to help service our debt and in 2014, our TIF (tax increment financing) revenue* will be decreased by 20 percent (from 100 percent to 80 percent).

We have a bank loan of $24.2 million on which we have been paying interest only at $695,962 annually (interest rate at less than 3 percent). This loan is up for renewal in 2014.

If we agree to build the 214 multi-family units, according to our chief financial officer, we will generate $370,000 in taxable revenue annually when they are occupied.

In addition, our city would receive $750,000 in impact fees to fund some of our infrastructure. As the redevelopment grows, we will generate substantial revenues to service our debt.

It is important that our council receive your input so they can vote on this most important proposal.

This is the most important decision that Temple Terrace will face.

You must decide if you feel that ceiling height, parking and marketing differences between staff and Vlass are “deal breakers.”

I encourage you to make your feelings known to your council members.

*When Hillsborough County approved declaring the southeast quadrant of Temple Terrace a blighted area and establishing the Community Redevelopment Agency, they agreed to give the city 100 percent of the incremental tax value using 2004 as a base year. In other words, if the assessed value of the property was $2 million dollars, the city would get 100 percent of Hillsborough County Ad Valorem on the increased value of the property. Under this agreement, Temple Terrace receives 100 percent for 10 years and 80 percent for the next 20 years.

The projection of the TIF funds the city expected to generate through the increased property values it would realize after completion of the redevelopment was a key factor in declaring the property given to Vlass was “Fair Value” for what the city would receive in additional tax revenue.

See also:
City Receives Revised Redevelopment Proposal
Mayor: Redevelopment Project Must Move Forward
Redevelopment Project at Standstill
City Denies Redevelopment Proposal
Developers Give City Ultimatum
Council Postpones Redevelopment Decision 

Truth teller October 07, 2012 at 01:55 PM
JS I suggest you go to the city clerks office and read the MDA yourself all your speculation is just that speculation, intellegent decisions are not based on speculation. You keep saying they will walk, how do you know that? They have threatened to walk 3 times already and yet they are still here why? Maybe its becase while the MDA is not perfect it does have some "teeth" all the documents are at the city clerks office rather than speculate what might happen from one letter by the mayor and posturing of an attorney go educate your self and then comment based on that education.
Truth teller October 07, 2012 at 01:58 PM
PS: JS did you bother to go to the ice cream social as you suggested?
JS October 07, 2012 at 09:05 PM
How about this for some Truth, teller. I am not a lawyer. I have not been elected to represent the people. The answer I want should come from the people in place in the city we pay to work for us and those we have elected. Those elected officials should be educating all of us. It is not something I have the expertise in, nor should I have to attempt it. The last time I looked we are a representative form of government, not a direct democracy. Maybe it is enough for someone as informed as you to make the decision based on "maybe.......it does have some teeth." That is not enough for me to decide to support a vote that could possibly bankrupt the city. Obviously you have not read the MDA or understood either, or you could explain it intelligently here. Yet you make your decisions on suppositions. That is the kind of thinking that has gotten us into this mess in the first place. The citizens of this city agreed to the redevelopment based on the assumption council, mayor and city staff would do everything they should to safeguard the city's investment. People like you need to stop assuming and demand answers from the people in charge. Regardless of the present public standing of the mayor, I sure as hell am going to take a letter he posts to the public with more weight than anonymous comment like yours.
Taxpayer poor October 12, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Carol, Look at the hillsborough co property appraisers sight and see the value of the north end of this project, that is what Vlass is paying taxes on currently, until the buildings are built occupied or not there is no increase or TIF coming back to TT. As a matter of fact all the property except the SweetBay portion has taken a nose dive in Value, TIF is based on increased value! It started about 2005 and was only 100% of increased value for 10 years..guess we are well into that with overall net gain for the SW Quad as a negative. two more 10 year renewals but at less than the 100% so our leaders have squandered the majority of any gain as well as leaders giving away the land taxpayers are on the hook for about $25 million if any or nothing happens there!
JS October 12, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Thanks Taxpayer poor, it is those kind of facts and figures the people really need to know. I wish we had much more concerning the financial impacts and risks of this project, price adjusted to today's market. Unfortunately, I think most of them would rather choose to ignore them.

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