Recovery zone in the works

Published 9:10 pm Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A proposal to create a recovery zone in the city is moving forward, with a City Council vote expected in the coming months.

The recovery zone, a concept funded in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, can be created by a City Council vote and produces more bond financing options for businesses located within the zone.

“We have the opportunity in the city of Suffolk to create a recovery zone for areas that might need some extra assistance,” Economic Development director Kevin Hughes said at a meeting of the Economic Development Authority on Wednesday.

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The proposed recovery zone encompasses the downtown area, Portsmouth Boulevard to the east end of the bypass, much of the Godwin Boulevard corridor, the Routes 13 and 32 corridor down to the Suffolk Executive Airport, and the Holland Road corridor to just west of the planned CenterPoint Intermodal Center.

The area encompasses 12 planned or existing major office and industrial sites.

Having a recovery zone will allow the Economic Development Authority to act as a conduit for financing for private companies or developers located within the zone. The state can approve financing for costs of acquisition, construction, development, improvements and rehabilitation.

Neither the authority nor the city will have any additional liability or debt when bonds are issued, Hughes added.

He noted that Suffolk Energy Partners, which is in negotiations with the Southeastern Public Service Authority for the rights to its landfill gas, will be able to take advantage of the recovery zone’s benefits if it is approved as is.

The proposal will be discussed at an upcoming City Council meeting.

Also at the EDA meeting, its members voted to give a $7,500 sponsorship to the Taste of Suffolk event, which happens this year on Sept. 11. The event aims to increase foot traffic in downtown shops and restaurants, Parks and Recreation director Lakita Frazier said. Private businesses, including Lipton, also are sponsoring the festivities, which include entertainment, food samples and contests.