Commonwealth Journal

News Live

April 27, 2013

Timing right to revitalize Downtown?

(Continued)

Somerset —

The study identified over 200,000 square feet of existing building space in downtown Somerset as “blighted space that needs development,” including 82,950 square feet of ground-level retail, restaurant and entertainment venues, the Virginia Cinema facility, and second-level office and residential space.
The analysis projected that “the potential fiscal and economic impacts created ... will be significant,” with an estimated $498 million in incremental tax revenue generated over a 20-year period. Of this amount, approximately $45.5 million comes from state tax revenue, and more than $4 million remaining from local tax revenues.
The study also estimated that the project would create over 600 sustainable jobs throughout the region, with another 294 during the construction period alone.
“With approximately 4 million visitors to the area annually, a revitalized Downtown Somerset could go a long way towards creating new tax revenue and jobs, both locally and fore the state,” reads the report.
In short, it has to pay off, however — it’s a must. No money starts coming back to the city until $20 million has been spent in the downtown area. “If we don’t reach that threshold, no money ever comes back from the state,” said Gosser. 
On the plus side, the city is already almost a third of the way there, given the $8.5 downtown energy center to be located at the corner of College and East Mt. Vernon Streets. That spending counts toward the threshold, said Gosser, as does other basic work projects such as paving streets, fixing water lines, and “practically any expenditure in the downtown area,” as Gosser put it. The $2 million the city already knows needs to be spent on the Virginia Cinema would also count toward that cost.
 “The state wants to make sure they aren’t the only ones investing in the area,” said Gosser, who believes the plan would likely get approval from Frankfort by September of this year if things go as DSDC hopes.

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