My View: Food pods are welcome addition in Fairview
As The Outlook has reported, the City of Fairview has received approval to begin the development of "Fairview Food Plaza," a collection of food carts, indoor and outdoor seating, public meeting space and potential location for a local farmers market.
I can understand that during a time when we are going through a global pandemic that has rippling economic ramifications that this would seem like a strange time to enter into this type of investment.
The food plaza has a projected opening of Labor Day Weekend 2021, and while I cannot speak for all of Fairview City Council, I hope and have to believe that by that time we will be seeing larger groups for public gatherings approved by the state.
Through numerous public surveys the city has heard overwhelmingly that the residents of Fairview would like more eating and drinking establishments and this is an excellent opportunity to provide just that.
For clarification, the funding for this project would not come from city general funds nor would it add any additional taxes.
It will utilize a state-sponsored program where cities can create an "Urban Renewal Agency." Fairview formed its own "URA" a few years ago.
This is a program that utilizes tax dollars by redirecting some of the tax revenue already paid toward developing under-utilized and blighted properties. Many cities all over the state have taken advantage this program as a means to improve livability in their respective cities.
This is not free money but rather a redistribution of already paid tax dollars. Fairview has essentially taken out a loan under the URA. The increased tax revenue from properties within the URA boundary will help pay back that loan.
Before entering into this venture, the City of Fairview contracted with an independent party to provide a feasibility study, examining five or six similar food-cart pods looking at the popularity, revenue and how these food pods affected livability in their areas. While any development has some inherent risk to it, we do feel that the risk is manageable.
Based on conservative estimates using food cart rental space only, we estimate that the majority of the money spent on this project would be returned within 10 years.
There also are possibilities to further increase on the return on this investment if we include special uses or events.
In addition, the City of Fairview is continuing to look for other sources of funding such as arts grants to help fund this project.
It is not out of the realm of possibility to say that the funds spent for this project could be completely returned in less than 10 years.
Personally, I am very excited at the prospect of seeing a property that has been under-utilized for many years now developed into something and allowing everyone in the area to use and enjoy the space.
While we still have many more steps to take, such as traffic impact studies, I do believe that this will be a vital part of improving the Halsey corridor and Fairview itself.
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