The City of St. Albans is flourishing, welcoming nearly 50 new businesses and 300 workers – including 140 state employees – to its historic downtown and commercial center over the past five years. This robust revitalization is no accident: businesses, property owners and municipal officials have worked together with the state to take advantage of tax incentives, grants and planning assistance through the State Designation Programs, administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development, support for transportation planning and implementation with grants administered through the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the designation of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District. As the city continues to move forward, the example of its recent accomplishments offers a roadmap that communities statewide can follow.
The success in St. Albans took time and didn’t come without challenges. As with revitalization in any community, finding money to support infrastructure improvements and economic development was, for many years, an obstacle. Another challenge was determining what projects to tackle, where to invest and how best to leverage limited financial resources. A critical first step was a community visioning process to support their downtown which received state designation in 2004. This step was funded in part by two municipal planning grants (MPGs) to create a downtown master plan in 2009. With downtown designation and a blueprint forward, the door opened to funding sources that helped leverage taxpayer dollars and spurred private investment. Approval of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District Plan in 2012 provided the primary source of funds for public infrastructure required to leverage private investment.
Public investments in infrastructure totaling at least $17 million (including $14 million of TIF debt issued to date) is expected to leverage over $90 million in private development. The base value of the District was about $108 million upon creation, it was $150 million in grand list year 2015 and the value when the TIF is fully developed is expected to be $198 million, an increase in value of $90 million. Before the TIF District, the properties sent about $1.5 million a year to the Education Fund. When the TIF retention period ends, the properties will send more than $2.8 million to the Education fund each year.
As of June 30, 2017:
Cumulative Public Investment: $15,897,183
Cumulative Private Investment: $74,760,400