Close to Completing Its Mission, What's Next for the CRA?

By Caitlyn Finnegan

Coming up on the completion of several decades-long redevelopment projects, the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency is at a crossroads for its next step.

The agency is still heavily involved in projects throughout the community, including Depot Park renovations, facade grants, revitalizing historic landmarks and helping to promote Innovation Square, but CRA leadership is wondering how to best position the public agency to serve the community in the years ahead.

As its projects have become more intertwined and the agency has taken on more holistic district planning efforts, agency staff said it is time to “change the story” of what the CRA means to the community.

“Our strength is our greatest weakness – sometimes we take on too much,” said Diane Gilreath, a CRA engineer staff member, during the agency’s presentation Monday afternoon.

Gilreath said that the agency wants to make sure it is taking advantage of the best redevelopment practices being done around the country to better understand the pulse of the community, be adaptable and stay current with what’s happening around the region.

Originally founded in 1981 to help establish a framework of growth for the Central City District, the CRA currently operates in four community redevelopment areas: Eastside, Fifth Avenue/Pleasant Street, Downtown and College Park/University Heights.

Redevelopment for a CRA target area includes public and private parties coming together to reinvest in and reinvigorate deteriorated areas that are plagued by social, physical, environmental or economic barriers. The public agency has a specific plan for each area, with guidelines and strategies for removing blight and providing a vision for the community moving forward.

CRA projects are funded by tax increment funds collected from the four redevelopment areas. Any projects taking place in a redevelopment area can only be funded by tax funds raised from that same area.

The agency will hold another meeting in July to present more concrete goals and objectives to the Community Redevelopment Agency Board.

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