On Monday, a House committee advanced Hillsborough County’s proposal to create a special district for funding some features of the $3 billion Water Street Tampa development in the city’s Channelside neighborhood.
The House Government Accountability Committee unanimously approved HB 1393 that creates the Water Street Tampa Improvement District. Advancing the proposal are Strategic Property Partners and Cascade Investments. Tampa Republican Jamie Grant is sponsoring the bill.
Water Street Tampa has become one of the most eagerly awaited private developments in Tampa ever. At completion, it will represent 9 million square feet and include the first new office towers created in Tampa in nearly 25 years as well as retail, educational and entertainment space.
The special improvement district allows an appointed board to levy special assessments on commercial properties. The five-member board could also levy a millage rate up to one mil — $1 per $1,000 of assessed value.
“The special district would consist largely one entity owning all of the property, having the ability with a board approval vote to levy an assessment only on commercial tenants, with an expressed exclusion of any residential tenant,” Grant told the committee.
When the bill came before the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation last November in Plant City, state Sen. Dana Young said that the developers of Water Street Tampa could use the taxes they levy to “install and operate and maintain upscale amenities and infrastructure within the district that are far above and beyond what the city of Tampa would be able to do.”
Young, a Tampa Republican, added that they would be able to do so at no cost to city taxpayers.
Amenities could include bus shelters, enhanced landscapes and bike paths.
Taxpayer money has been previously used to help pay for fixing infrastructure in the area around the development.
Tampa’s City Council voted in January 2015 for $30 million to reimburse Strategic Property Partners for realigning roads, adding sidewalks, improving drainage and burying power cables in Channelside. Half of the funds came from Downtown Community Redevelopment Area (CRA), which allows property taxes to be reinvested into the area they came from; the rest came from Hillsborough County’s share of those taxes by way of an agreement with the city.