South Columbus tax allocation district in the works to attract new businesses and restaurants

Updated: Dec. 16, 2020 at 4:47 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The city of Columbus is pouring millions of dollars into redeveloping the south side.

A new tax allocation district (TAD) is in the works to hopefully attract new businesses and restaurants to the area.

This project is in its’ very early stages. However, you can expect some new housing to come to the south side as well as maybe an entertainment district.

“This is the time to recharge the life cycle of South, at least this area of South Columbus,” said NeighborWorks Columbus President Cathy Williams.

A TAD allows city leaders to freeze property taxes in a specific area in hopes of attracting new business. Columbus City Council recently approved boundaries for a TAD in South Columbus.

“One is right along the river where they’re talking about an entertainment deal,” Mayor Skip Henderson said. “The other is closer to Victory Drive where they’re talking about housing.”

NeighborWorks is planning to bring roughly 100 affordable housing units to the area along Victory Drive past Bull Creek.

“You hear retail follows rooftops. You’re not going to have good quality retailers and restaurants until you have a good number of families living there to support them,” Williams said.

The plans for this area currently include an affordable housing project by NeighborWorks Columbus and possibly a casino resort one day as proposed by Dr. Bob Wright.

According to councilor Toyia Tucker, the state legislature would first have to vote for a casino referendum to be put on the ballot for voters statewide. Then, if voters statewide approved that referendum, then the next decision would be how many and where they can go. So, there’s no sure thing that a casino will ever come, but Wright is hoping to make the riverfront property a casino resort one day if everything passes.

“You know right now, we’re saying one Columbus and this is giving us an opportunity to truly say one Columbus and mean it, because we can possibly have some redevelopment in this area,” Tucker said.

Economic development in South Columbus sounds great, but some said they worry about gentrification, which is when a poor urban area is changed by wealthier people moving in, improving housing, and attracting new businesses, typically displacing current residents in the process.

“When it comes to gentrification, that tax freeze is a blessing in disguise. What it does is increases the value of homeowners’ properties without increasing their taxes. So, they benefit from the redevelopment of the area,” Williams said.

While homeowners may benefits from this TAD, Williams said renters may not.

“You are going to see some investors who are going to attempt to raise their rents,” Williams said. “And that could force some families out. But that’s where organizations like NeighborWorks Columbus comes in to continue to produce affordable housing.”

Although a casino sounds great for the Fountain City, it’s a long way off as casinos are not even allowed yet in Georgia.

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