Posted: Monday, February 4th 2013 at 9:52pm
Gainesville Schools gladly endorse mall TAD
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – The Gainesville City School Board gave their approval at Monday night’s work session to the establishment of a Tax Allocation District (TAD) at Lakeshore Mall, clearing the way for the sale of bonds to help finance the revitalization project.
TADs were created by the state legislature to empower municipalities to designate specific areas where real estate property tax monies collected above a certain threshold for a certain period of time are used to make a specified improvement.
Lakeshore Mall received TAD approval from the Gainesville City Council in December, but because that decision affects property tax revenues, the City School Board had to also approve the measure.
Ken Bleakly, representing Garrison Investment Group, new owners of the mall, asked the School Board for their endorsement.
In exchange for the Board’s aegis, Garrison agreed to three requests made earlier by the School Board.
Board member Sammy Smith paused to address the audience, explaining the requests made by the Board and mentioned by Bleakly.
"This is a tax advantage for the new owners of the mall so we were trying to speak on behalf of our students," Smith explained.
"We asked for the mall’s participation in the 'Partners in Education Program'…we asked about after-school and weekend jobs and job-shadowing and internships…and we asked for the occasional, but very-much-needed, onsite parking for special events at Gainesville High School, whereby we could use their parking lot and our own shuttle service."
"The mall management people have agreed to all of our conditions," Smith said.
Board member David Syfan, who is also an attorney, requested that the agreed-upon conditions, as well as an opt-out provision, be written into the Memorandum-of-Understanding between the School Board and Garrison Investment Group.
Bleakly agreed and the measure was approved unanimously by the Board.
"We have four schools within a mile-and-a-half of the mall," Superintendent Dr. Merrianne Dyer said. "So we have an interest in our mall being vital and alive and attractive and vibrant and not being a decaying place. And we’ll see an increase in sales tax with all of the stores going into the mall."
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