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Board halts incentives to small businesses

Sandi Hoover
shoover@nevadaappeal.com

In a decisive move Thursday, the Carson City Redevelopment Authority called an immediate and indefinite moratorium on cash incentives to help small private redevelopment projects.

Office of Business Development Director Joe McCarthy said the move was necessary due to staff reductions in the OBD and the resulting difficulty of processing applications in a timely and fair manner.

In addition, he said, the city needs to save tax increment funds within the district to move ahead with its downtown corridor plan.

McCarthy said that since the downtown redevelopment project area was established in 1986, investments have generated about $60 million downtown and filled a lot of empty buildings.

In the early 2000s, another district was created on South Carson Street, he said, which resulted in several new auto dealerships, a movie theater, several projects by Johnny Ribeiro and a Kohl’s department store.

“Five years ago, we had aging used auto dealerships, and misplaced, degrading mobile home parks,” he said.

Carson City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ronni Hannaman called the authority’s decision “a very good thing,” adding that it offered a level playing field for Carson City businesses throughout town.

But one business owner, lawyer Jon Yaple, who bought the building north of The Basil on Carson Street in March, said the building has been “empty and blighted for several years.”

He told the authority that he was surprised to learn only Sunday of the planned resolution. He said besides the property purchase, he plans to spend $100,000 refurbishing the inside into a 450-square-foot law office and a 1,300-square-foot studio to accommodate karate and dance.

“I walked into this thinking redevelopment funds would be available,” for refurbishing the street-front exterior of the building, Yaple said.

Applications for redevelopment funding are handled on a quarterly basis with the most recent deadline July 1. Yaple asked that the authority members consider keeping the quarterly schedule before cutting off the program entirely.

But Shelly Aldean, member of the redevelopment authority and board of supervisors, urged immediate passage, saying there will never be a good time from applicants’ perspectives.

“We need to bite the bullet,” she said.

Business owner Jim Bagwell said he believes redevelopment funding should be used for sidewalks, streets and infrastructure “but not inside, for personal enhancement” of businesses.

The redevelopment authority voted unanimously to suspend further funding for small, private redevelopment projects.

The suspension of this incentive program does not apply to the funding of special events or appropriate large redevelopment projects such as state-of-the-art auto dealerships or large aging shopping centers in need of redevelopment support, McCarthy said.

In other business Thursday, the Carson City Board of Supervisors:

• Reappointed Mark Kimbrough, a trails consultant, to another four-year term on the Planning Commission. He has served on the panel since 2002.

• Appointed Realtor Jim Shirk to a four-year term on the Planning Commission.

• Appointed Dan Heath, a right-of-way specialist with the Nevada Department of Transportation, to a fill a term ending in 2012 on the Planning Commission.