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Officials consider revising, expanding tax district

City officials are considering amending a special taxing district in North Suffolk to include more properties, which could further enhance the city’s economic development.

The Route 17 Special Taxing District was created to spur economic development initiatives in the area. City Council established the district in June of 1994, and it was effective the first of the following year.

The properties within the district pay an extra 16 cents per $100 of assessed value in property taxes, but that money is put into the Route 17 Special Taxing District Fund, which is used to accelerate water, sewer, road and other infrastructure construction or improvement within the district.

Accelerated infrastructure translates to a higher level of service, making it an attractive area for businesses and industry to locate, enticing new companies to Suffolk, said Tom O’Grady, director of economic development.

Officials want to expand the district by more than 200 acres to include some new projects that are underway. The first, Hampton Roads Crossing, on College Drive and the Western Freeway, is a $168 million mixed-used development that will feature an office park, hotels, homes and retail. The other is the Lakeview Technology Office Park, a $50 million project that calls for a 28-acre office park development.

Both projects will require new or improved infrastructure in order to be completed. Some of the necessary new construction, according to a presentation given to council Nov. 15, includes:

n Expanding Townpoint Road to four lanes from College Drive east to the city of Portsmouth at a cost of $4 million. Suffolk’s share would be $2 million.

n Adding street lights to Townpoint Road from College Drive west to Harbour View Boulevard at an estimated cost of $300,000.

n Extend Burbage Drive from the new Lakeview Technology Office Park west to College Drive at an estimated cost of $2.1 million.

In total the three projects could cost the city $4.4 million. Amending the District to include the two projects would generate more tax dollars for the Route 17 Special Taxing District Fund, helping to pay for the infrastructure improvements, O’Grady said.

Various department heads teamed up at the Nov. 15 city council meeting with a presentation on the proposed revisions.

The District is important because it helps foster economic development in certain underdeveloped areas of the city, Mills said, and expanding its boundaries is a logical way to enhance that.

Mills said the process to adjust the District boundaries includes a public hearing, and the passing of first and second readings by council.

ashley.taylor@suffolknewsherald.com