HUDSON: Hudson is getting ready to stretch its downtown borders a little bit more.
The city is looking for a developer to propose commercial and residential ideas for 16 acres on the northern border of the First & Main retail development.
Most of the buildings currently there — including the city-owned Hudson Public Power, a salt dome and the school district’s bus garage — will be razed to make room.
This is the second phase of a downtown development plan envisioned more than a decade ago.
“So many people want to be downtown but can’t,” city spokesperson Jody Roberts said. “We just didn’t have the space.”
The first phase was First & Main, which expanded downtown to the west of its traditional roots on Main Street and opened in 2004.
Hudson officials always planned that when its share of the debt for First & Main was paid off, the northern parcels would be redeveloped.
That debt was paid off in 2014.
The new target area straddles Owen Brown Street, west of Morse Road. The city is negotiating to buy some lots from Windstream, although the company’s main office will remain. The city and school district already own the rest of the property.
To prepare the land for a developer, the city and Hudson City Schools have reached a tentative agreement on a tax increment financing (TIF) proposal that would borrow about $6.1 million, to be repaid over 20 years with future tax income generated by the property. City Council and the school board are expected to vote on the proposal in March
The money would be used to relocate Hudson Public Power to the Hudson Drive building currently being vacated by Ramco Specialties Inc. It would build a new salt dome and school bus garage on city-owned property, also on Hudson Drive. And it would also pay for any environmental rehabilitation of the downtown land.
A benefit to moving those functions away from downtown is reducing the number of city vehicles and school buses having to navigate through retail and commercial traffic, Roberts said.
It would also turn valuable downtown land into tax-generating properties, since the lots currently owned by the city and school district are tax exempt. Once the TIF is repaid, the school district will get an estimated $135,000 a year in new property tax revenue.
In looking for a developer, officials say they favor a design that would put needed commercial offices south of Owen Brown while adding smaller residential units on the north side of the street.
“We have great big single family homes at a pretty high price point. What we don’t have is housing for young professionals and empty nesters,” Roberts said.
City Manager Jane Howington said because the target area abuts existing homes, the city wants a seemless integration that will make the area an inviting “live, work, play” neighborhood and tap into a growing demand for urban living.
“It’s a great project,” Howington said. “It’s very complicated — a lot of planning and negotiating goes into something like this — but I think it will really enhance the community and probably even the region.”
Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.