Heber City Manager Explains Community Reinvestment Area and 'Envision Heber 2050'
Heber City will redevelop areas of its downtown following a decision at the July 20 city council meeting.
City Manager Matt Brower says the project will improve accommodations around Main Street and invest in affordable housing.
Heber Main Street redevelopment has been a common topic at recent city council meetings. On Tuesday, councilors voted 3 to 1 to approve a project area plan and budget.
This will give the city more influence over development in an 80-acre zone between Airport Road and 1200 North St. It will also generate money for developments by Heber City itself, such as for improvements to infrastructure, and water and sewer lines. It will also offer incentives for private developments.
Over the next 20 years, the city expects to generate $36 million to reinvest in the project area.
Brower explained that this will be accomplished by designating the zone as a community reinvestment area (CRA).
“What the CRA is simply, is an economic tool that can be leveraged by the city to bring about the vision that was captured in our Envision Heber City 2050 initiative,” he said. “The way the CRA generates its revenue is off existing property taxes and the valuation increases that come from the properties within the district. You might have an investor come in and invest in a property, and that investment is obviously going to bring in a higher valuation, and that higher valuation is going to result in a higher tax, and it’s that increment, that higher tax, that’s gonna go into the agency to be invested in that downtown area.”
Brower says the CRA is not a new tax, an increase on an existing tax or a land-use decision.
The reinvestment in the downtown area is part of the city’s Envision Heber 2050 initiative.
“So, we heard the community wanted us to maintain that small-town feel and charm but also make sure the downtown is on solid economic footing for the next 30 to 40 years,” Brower said. “In the Envision Heber document, one of those goals was to make downtown a regional destination for annual gatherings and traditions that Heber residents could enjoy. To take underused spaces, or reimagine them into significant new places to work with and enjoy. To improve pedestrian and bike accessibility and parking and traffic conditions along Main Street, and to preserve, enhance and improve access to valued places and buildings.”
Other Utah cities that have used CRAs include Midway, Moab, Salt Lake City, Sandy, West Valley City and Holladay.
The statute that allows CRAs to exist in Utah requires 10% of the revenue it generates to be set aside for affordable housing.
Brower says valuations of property in the city and Wasatch County have gone up by 36% over the last year.
“In Wasatch County and Heber, we have an affordable-housing crisis,” he said. “And so we’re pleased that the CRA will simply be a tool in our toolbox to try to help with some affordable housing issues.”
Next, the city will ask other taxing entities to contribute tax increments to be invested in downtown Heber City.
Mayor Kelleen Potter said Heber has begun talks with entities like Wasatch County and the school district, but no agreements have been made.