Avon Lake considers 10-year tax abatement

By Nicole Hennessy

Avon Lake

Before the end of 2019, the corner of Miller and Walker roads will likely be home to 144 new apartment homes – an almost $18-million project Avon Lake City Council is currently considering for a 10-year tax abatement.

On the receiving end of the abatement is Avon Lake Aqua.

The initiative stems from the project’s location within the portion of Avon Lake designated as a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA), a program established under state law which allows municipalities to approve tax abatements.

Council originally approved the CRA on June 20, 1994. The resolution was then replaced with an updated version on June 24, 2014.

Council introduced the tax abatement ordinance at the Oct. 24 regular meeting.

Mayor Greg Zilka said it’s a great deal, pointing to a stipulation Avon Lake Aqua will pay 25 percent of the taxes exempted, during the entire 10-year period, to the Avon Lake City Schools.

These funds will be given directly to the district, so the funds will not have to go through the county and will not affect the district’s budget negatively.

In addition, 300 part-time construction jobs are expected to be created during the complex’s construction, carrying a payroll of about $2.5 million.

Once the project is completed, three new permanent full-time jobs will be created with a payroll of about $125,000.

This is one of the first large initiatives getting off the ground since the city’s new economic development director, Ted Esborn, came on board earlier this summer.

One of his main focuses is the city’s West End.

The future of the area has remained a topic of conversation among city officials for years.

When the West End Development Plan is discussed, references to Westlake’s Crocker Park come up.  City officials have shared visions of a marina, townhomes and a walkable live/work community boasting busy shops.

With the NRG plant not going anywhere, all these conversations become much more complicated.

The plant, which sits on about half a mile of lakefront property, was looking at closing when the city commissioned a study through Aislinn Consulting LLC and formed a West End Redevelopment Commission in 2014.

From this study came the West End Plan.

The city’s Economic Development Committee is now discussing officially adding the plan to the city’s land use plan – something that was never done due to NRG’s decision to remain in operation.

For now, a project this size in the CRA may be a first step in changing the landscape and function of the area.

Throughout all these discussions concerning development, the issue of walkability and bikeability inevitably comes up.

Zilka said there haven’t been talks regarding plans for the continued development of the area, but those talks are needed.

“We need to incorporate walking and cycling back into our thoroughfare plan,” said Zilka.

For the time being, as the focus is on getting this new community built, Zilka reiterated alternative transportation plans are not currently being discussed in conjunction with the project.

“It’s not quite related to this issue,” he said, “but it’s something to look into.”

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