Avon approves land sale for Seasons remodel
AVON — Picture a walk down the town’s new Main Street Mall, with a remodeled Seasons building offering you an inviting place to stop on your walk.
Residents approved the first step in that walk on Tuesday by an overwhelming majority, with 529 in favor and 170 opposed.
With 3,000 square feet of town-owned land now voter-approved for sale, Seasons owners Gart Properties can begin the land purchase, design and permitting for a renovation project on the building.
“I feel pretty confident that what they will end up doing will be great for the Mall and for that whole district,” Mayor Jennie Fancher said Tuesday night. “I think it’s exciting.”
URBAN RENEWAL AREA PROJECT
A remodel of the Seasons building would be one more project in the town’s urban renewal area, a district that has been successful enough in increasing its property tax returns to see more financing made available for public improvements in the district, officials agree.
At their Oct. 27 meeting, Assistant Town Manager Scott Wright told the council the proceeds from the urban renewal area will be strong enough to issue more tax-increment financing debt starting in early 2017, based on the increased tax increments from projects at Buck Creek Road and the Wyndham. As much as $6 million could become available based on current interest rates.
Councilman Buz Reynolds said he has always been a proponent of using bond money for public improvements,
“Honestly, it’s the most inexpensive financing we can get,” he said.
Fancher said she would like to see the tax-increment financing used for parking along Benchmark Road, improvements to West Beaver Creek Boulevard, and to build restrooms near the stage in Nottingham Park.
ACROSS THE STREET
Located across from the Seasons building, one urban renewal area question still remaining is what will become of the Skier Building.
The tax-increment bonds from the urban renewal area could be used to remodel that building, placing Town Hall and town offices inside and activating the bottom floor with a welcome center, public bathrooms and public meeting spaces.
Recent conversations have also led to increased optimism for a new building, possibly a hotel, located at Lot B next to the Skier Building.
Earlier this year, a plan to move Town Hall to the Skier Building using certificate of participation bonds was overturned in a referendum election.
With a remodel being planned for the Seasons building across the street and the possibility of a hotel next door, activation of the Skier Building is an idea that the Town Council would like to hear the community’s opinion on, especially if the cost of the building could be lowered and the financing mechanism changed from certificate of participation financing to TIF bonds from the urban renewal area. A recent charrette held by the town showed support for the idea.
“I think (Tuesday’s) election shows people are attentive to what can be in Avon,” said Town Manager Virginia Egger.