this funding could include State and Federal grants, such as Federal
transportation funds for parking and roadway improvements, contributions
from the Town's general fund, investments by local property owners
and community development block grants (CDBG). This latter source
may be particularly applicable to the downtown Oakland district
given its current, existing conditions with respect to HUD criteria
regarding prevention and/or elimination of slums or blight.
previously, commercial properties represent about 95,400 square
feet in the downtown with an estimated overall vacancy rate of
around 21.0%. Much of this vacancy is concentrated in three or
four key parcels near the northern gateway (Main and Oak Streets).
In fact, over 15,000 square feet of vacancy is estimated to be
within two multi-story commercial properties, which have been
vacant for more than a year. Such sustained vacancy often results
in deferred maintenance (observed in several properties) and the
willingness to convert commercial uses to residential uses.(12)
Such conversions only serve to further diminish the downtown's
future commercial viability as building stock is removed from
the inventory. In addition, the downtown commercial district suffers
from a lack of basic infrastructure and streetscape improvements
including the need for an adequate and safe pedestrian sidewalk
and crosswalk system throughout the district.
the consultants have worked in have successfully utilized challenge
grants(13) as a funding source to start the process of renovation/upgrading
properties and in helping to organize, manage and promote their
commercial districts. The Town could also consider the use of
tax increment financing to "capture" any improvements in assessed
property values and dedicating the resulting additional property
tax revenue towards infrastructure improvements.
This is currently planned for one of the vacant commercial parcels
(a single story structure of 1,200 square feet).
One community the consultants worked in established a $225,000
challenge grant which had the following selection (or award)
criteria: up to, but not more than $50,000 to any one applicant;
the amount of the grant could be between 25% and 40% of the
total project cost; consideration for receipt of a grant required
owner's cash equity of at least 10% of the total project cost;
this equity had to sufficient to leverage a commercial loan;
and, ultimate receipt of challenge grant funds depended on the
impact, which the owner's proposed project has contributed,
to the overall objectives of the revitalization efforts.