COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY
Welcome to the City of Sebastian Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE CRA WEBSITE IS UNDER DEVELOPMENT TO BE COMPLETED IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2020.
The City of Sebastian originally created a CRA as a means to ensure that the downtown and surrounding vicinity would develop with a coherent community vision, and to encourage reinvestment and redevelopment throughout the CRA. Recommendations from the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council’s (TCRPC) 2000 and 2001 charettes have also been incorporated into the redevelopment plan.
The City planned the CRA in 1995 for an area generally east of the FEC Railroad right-of-way to the eastern City limits, and subsequently adopted a redevelopment plan for that area. In 2003, that area was expanded to include the area commonly known as the “Sebastian Boulevard Triangle” where C.R. 512 splits into east bound and west bound lanes; as well as including some of the industrial land south of C.R. 512.
In September 2010, the CRA Master Plan underwent a minor update intended primarily to update the CRA’s capital improvements program, specifically to include a relatively detailed schedule of capital improvements for years 2010 to 2015. Due to the limited scope of this update, data and analysis for the Plan was not generally updated, except where specifically related to the updated capital improvements program.
ABOUT THE CRA
What is a Community Redevelopment Area or District?
Under Florida law (Chapter 163, Part III), local governments are able to designate areas as Community Redevelopment Areas when certain conditions exist. Since all the monies used in financing CRA activities are locally generated, CRAs are not overseen by the state, but redevelopment plans must be consistent with local government comprehensive plans. Examples of conditions that can support the creation of a Community Redevelopment Area include, but are not limited to: the presence of substandard or inadequate structures, a shortage of affordable housing, inadequate infrastructure, insufficient roadways, and inadequate parking. To document that the required conditions exist, the local government must survey the proposed redevelopment area and prepare a Finding of Necessity. If the Finding of Necessity determines that the required conditions exist, the local government may create a Community Redevelopment Area to provide the tools needed to foster and support redevelopment of the targeted area.
What is a Community Redevelopment Agency?
The activities and programs offered within a Community Redevelopment Area are administered by the Community Redevelopment Agency. A five- to seven-member CRA “Board” created by the local government (city or county) directs the agency. The Board can be comprised of local government officials and or other individuals appointed by the local government. Although one local government may establish multiple CRA districts, there generally may be only one CRA Board. Each district must maintain separate trust funds, and expend those funds only in that district. In the City of Sebastian, the City Council – a five member board serves as the CRA Board.
All CRA’s within the State of Florida are created through the same steps:
I. Adopt the Finding of Necessity. This will formally identify the blight conditions within the targeted area and establish the area boundary.
II. Develop and adopt the Community Redevelopment Plan. The plan addresses the unique needs of the targeted area and includes the overall goals for redevelopment in the area, as well as identifying specific projects.
III. Create a Redevelopment Trust Fund. Establishment of the Trust Fund enables the Community Redevelopment Agency to direct the increase in real property tax revenues back into the targeted area.
What is a Community Redevelopment Plan?
The Community Redevelopment Agency is responsible for developing and implementing the Community Redevelopment Plan that addresses the unique needs of the targeted area. The plan includes the overall goals for redevelopment in the area, as well as identifying the types of projects planned for the area.
Examples of traditional projects include: streetscapes and roadway improvements, building renovations, new building construction, flood control initiatives, water and sewer improvements, parking lots and garages, neighborhood parks, sidewalks and street tree plantings. The plan can also include redevelopment incentives such as grants and loans for such things as façade improvements, sprinkler system upgrades, signs, and structural improvements. The redevelopment plan is a document that can be updated to meet the changing needs within the Community Redevelopment Area; however, the boundaries of the area cannot be changed without starting the process from the beginning.
What is Tax Increment Financing?
Tax increment financing is a unique tool available to cities and counties for redevelopment activities. It is used to leverage public funds to promote private sector activity in the targeted area. The dollar value of all real property in the Community Redevelopment Area is determined as of a fixed date, also known as the “frozen value.” Taxing authorities, which contribute to the tax increment, continue to receive property tax revenues based on the frozen value. These frozen value revenues are available for general government purposes. However, any tax revenues from increases in real property value, referred to as “increment,” are deposited into the Community Redevelopment Agency Trust Fund and dedicated to the redevelopment area.
It is important to note that property tax revenue collected by the School Board and any special district are not affected under the tax increment financing process. Further, unlike in some states, Florida taxing entities write a check to the CRA trust fund, after monies are received from the tax collector.
The tax increment revenues can be used immediately, saved for a particular project, or can be bonded to maximize the funds available. Any funds received from a tax increment financing area must be used for specific redevelopment purposes within the targeted area, and not for general government purposes.
CRA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Sebastian offers the benefits of being connected to major metropolitan areas such as Orlando and West Palm Beach, without all the draw backs commonly known to south Florida such as traffic congestion and over development. Sebastian offers something more. For example, you’ll find everything a business needs from a quality workforce to competitive development costs and ready facilities. What’s more, Sebastian has maintained its southern hometown ambience and it’s all located next to the Indian River Lagoon on Florida’s eastern coast.
Our CRA encompasses the waterfront district along Indian River Drive and the US Route 1 business district to further aid in the economic development of Sebastian.
Transportation is easy in Sebastian, offering easy access to major freight transportation routes.I-95, the major north-south trucking route on the Florida east coast, is just six miles west. The Florida East Coast Railroad (FEC) runs directly thru Sebastian with the possibility of freight sidings in several locations. FEC offers freight service from Miami and Ft. Lauderdale ports of entry, as well as direct connections with other major rail lines at Jacksonville.
Commercial and industrial land is available. At the Sebastian Airport, approximately 120 acres is available, with a large site ready for immediate construction having road, water, wastewater, electric and communication infrastructure in place. For the right company, limited funds are available construct a turn key leasable industrial building upon City Council approval. Lease rates for such an incentive could be as low as $2.00 per square foot See our Airport section for details.
Sebastian offers all of the Florida amenities a business needs to consider. Close connection to metropolitan areas without the south Florida hustle and bustle, quality housing for affordable prices, some of the best schools in the State, quality medical services and leisure activities that are second to none. Our CRA and Economic Development Departments are ready and willing to assist you in evaluating all we have to offer. So get started, because business is easy in Sebastian.
ACTUAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STORY
In May 2010, a bank foreclosed on a local commercial restaurant property located within the Sebastian CRA, on the Indian River Drive waterfront. This property was ran-down and need of restoration and development.
A small restaurant group approached the City about purchasing the property and restoring it. However, they wanted to expand seating to make the facility economically viable. This required more parking, which was not available on site.
The CRA and Economic Development Departments came up with a plan for “payment in lieu of parking” using City parking areas adjacent to the restaurant property to satisfy zoning requirements. This required a modification of the Land Development Regulations.
By late August 2010, the CRA and the City had approved the modified regulations so that the purchase of the property could proceed.
Restoration began in September 2010 and a grand opening was held in early December. In just over two months, the City of Sebastian moved to help establish a new business and provide valuable jobs for the area.
Over the past few years (up to mid 2016), the Sebastian CRA has completed the following projects:
1. The Main Street-Indian River Drive street realignment, boat ramp repair, boat and car parking.
2. The landscaping of the US Route 1 medians.
3. Repaving, drainage added parking, lighting and landscaping of the "Presidential Streets" which run into Indian River Drive
4. Additional parking spaces along Indian River Drive.
5. Lighting, restroom upgrades, addition of power outlets in Riverview Park.
6. Upgrading additional parking south of Riverview Park.
7. Start of landscaping in the CR512 corridor.
8. "Stamped asphalt" parking designations on US Route 1 as well as many street crosswalks within the CRA.
9. Paving, drainage, and lighting of the "Cavcorp" parking lot just north of Riverview Park. This project was completed in December 2016
There are several CRA projects now in the final stages of planning or execution:
1. Additional parking along Indian River Drive.
2. Major tree work in Riverview Park.
3. Addition of "wayfairer" directional signs within the CRA.
4. Funding for landscaping CRA 512 within Sebastian.
All of these projects are designed to enhance the economy of Sebastian, especially its historic and picturesque waterfront along the Indian River Lagoon.