Wednesday, January 21, 2015

SK Education Foundation to Renovate Starkey-McCulley Block, DAB Considers Funding

The Downtown Advisory Board meets on Thursday the 22nd, and there are a couple of interesting tidbits in the meeting packet.

Starkey-McCully Block and First National Bank
(The tower and Gerlinger Block on the corner are long gone,
but you can still read Lamport in the sidewalk!)
Image circa 1887, Salem Library Historic Photos
  • Venti's is expanding into the space next door, vacated by Bittersweet (this is probably old news, but attention here has been on the McGilchrist-Roth renovation)
  • Last spring the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation purchased one of the very oldest buildings in Salem, the Starkey-McCulley block, which dates to 1867 & 68. Part of the renovation will include the Mike McClaren Center for Success, a college and career center.
The Starkey-McCulley block (modern view here) is also formally on the DAB agenda for some urban renewal funds, for which they are currently ineligible.
eligible applicants [are required to] be property owners who pay property taxes. This was in support of the Riverfront-Downtown Urban Renewal Plan goals to fund projects that would contribute to increased property value and associated tax increment funds.
So the SK Education Foundation, a non-profit, is asking for an exception.

This is interesting and seems like it's in a real grey area. The foundation proposes to pay on a one-time basis the property taxes for 2015, but it appears that in 2016 onwards the parcel would go off the tax rolls. So this would be a significant subsidy and would not generate a direct tax increment off the property, which is one of the goals of urban renewal.

On the other hand, it is an investment in an important old building in the historic district, a building that has languished for some time, and it looks like it would be a meaningful destination drawing kids and parents downtown, and so it will have an indirect benefit to downtown and the tax base.

There's not an obvious read to me on this, and maybe you will have a stronger opinion or see a better way to analyze it.

They'll also be getting an update on the North Downtown Housing Strategy and talk about the parking fund budget for 2015-16. 

Meeting agenda and packet is here.

The Board meets Thursday the 22nd, from 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm in the Kalapuya Conference Room, 295 Church Street, Ste 201.

Watt Shipp was an important bike dealer a century ago, and he also had a store in the Starkey-McCully building.

E.S. Lamport Saddlery
next to Watt Shipp Sporting Goods
in the Starkey-McCully block, May 1913
You can read more about him here and here and about a great panorama photo here.


Anonymous said...

If SKEF wants a city loan/grant on this building they should pay full property taxes until the loan is paid off. Not just one year.

Also, if the city gives SKEF a loan/grant SKEF will vacate the space they occupy downtown today. Leaving another empty building.

The Center for Hope and Safety raised their own money to renovate their downtown building and did not ask for City assistance. SKEF should do the same.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

That's an interesting comparison and useful information! Thanks.

(It seems relevant to note, however, that The Center for Hope and Safety is just outside the urban renewal area boundaries, and so it wouldn't be eligible for this kind of funding anyway. That's at least part of why they wouldn't have asked.)

Anonymous said...

It is an interesting debate. As said above on one hand the project brings renovation to a blighted property that as it was vacant hasn't been paying property taxes. It seems like it has the opportunity to bring a giid inflow of folks to downtown. However as pointed out it would take a property off the tax rolls. It seems like the question for downtown is balancing incremental growth in value of all the neighboring properties vs not receiving property tax on this one property.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Maybe it's a moot point now, but it turns out the City did give the Center for Hope and Safety two forgivable loans totaling $443,000, which turn into outright grants if the Center stays in the same place through 2024.