Growing pains hit Clearwater coffers

Redevelopment district taxable values fall 4.9%.

Published May 24, 2007

Despite attracting more private development than downtown Clearwater has seen in years, the city's redevelopment taxing district has actually seen its taxable values shrink in 2007.

The Pinellas County Property Appraiser's Office on Wednesday released preliminary property value estimates, showing that overall Clearwater's values rose 4.3 percent, a little shy of the county's average of 5.8 percent.

But in the city's prized downtown development core - where property tax collections can be directly reinvested to spur more development -- values dropped 4.9 percent.

The reason is a quirk in state law that allows the district to tax only property that's on the books Jan. 1.

And in 2007 that was $17-million less property in the district's area than it had in 2006, due to demolition making way for new development.

City officials, though, say this is the cost of doing business and they're not worried because those torn-down buildings will be replaced by nicer and larger developments like Cleveland Street's condominium tower Station Square. And that means a higher taxable value in the next year or two.

"Redevelopment always means you're going to demolish one structure to replace it with something new," Mayor Frank Hibbard said, "so it is a process of one step back before you can jump five steps forward."