St. Clair Shores City Council approves DDA, TIFA plans

By: Alyssa Ochss | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 22, 2023

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — On March 6, the St. Clair Shores City Council voted 6-0 to adopt the ordinance that would approve the Downtown Development Authority Development Plan and Tax Increment Financing Plan.

Councilman John Caron was excused for this meeting.

St. Clair Shores Community Development and Inspections Director Denise Pike said at the meeting that the Downtown Development Authority Development Plan is a short-term plan and that the Tax Increment Financing Plan is needed in order to enact it.

“Short-term being 3 to 5 years or so,” Pike said at the meeting. “These would be goals that they would like to see implemented in the downtown district. In order to do that, they are looking to have the council approve tax increment financing that would underwrite some of the improvements that are proposed.”

Pike said in an interview that the Downtown Development Authority established in June of last year.

“So, we established the DDA last June; prior to that, I don’t think that there had been an initiative to do that,” Pike said. “I think that the social districts were, to some degree, the impetus for really wanting to create a formal structure and really wanting to do more public improvements.”

Pike said the area covered by the DDA isn’t large but that it is considered the downtown of St. Clair Shores.

“The DDA runs along Nine Mile from Pare to Defer,” Pike said. “Pare is actually on the west end, Defer on the east end, and then it runs north and south from Pet Supplies Plus to 9 Mack Drive, Cavalier.”

Councilman Dave Rubello helped to clear up some questions residents might have about the district. It’s not replacing the 9-Mack Merchants Association, and it’s a tool for pushing your city forward, Rubello said.

“It’s sort of put in place to stop deterioration in a certain area and to promote economic growth,” Rubello said at the meeting.

Rubello said he’s always been all for the district and that Pike had always worked hard on the district and the plans accompanying it.

“To me, this is the best interest of the public. There’s a lot of great points to it, and I’m a fan — always had a vision,” Rubello said.

Councilman Chris Vitale helped to clear up with Pike that the DDA would not impact any residential properties; it would just be commercial properties.

Pike said the TIFA would not cause increased taxes. Rather, it would set a baseline as of Dec. 31, 2022, and that any incremental increase in taxes based on increased values would go toward the downtown.

The continued development in the downtown district, including Amazon Fresh in the new Kroger and new housing units, will lead to increased valuation of the properties within the DDA’s boundaries, Pike said.

The 9-Mack Merchants Association has a direct connection to the DDA through Gloria Kinney, Pike said. Kinney sits on the DDA board and is also a member of the association. Pike and others did go to the association before the DDA was formed.

Along with the social district, Pike said board members would like to see some form of outdoor dining for patrons who would like to get food from a local business and enjoy their meal outside.

“So, you know, not tables set up specifically in an outdoor patio attached to a restaurant, but really more common area dining, more of an al fresco kind of feel in the downtown,” Pike said.

Pike said the board was also thinking of applying for a transportation grant to fix the streetscape downtown. This includes things like repairing ADA ramps, parking lots and other items of concern.

Pike said she’s excited that the City Council decided to take advantage of the economic development tool available to the city.

“This is a positive. This is a win for the city of St. Clair Shores and for the downtown district,” Pike said.