(Photo | Courtesy of BCD Initiative)
In August, the Bend City Council created an urban renewal area around the Bend Central District (BCD) so that Tax Increment Financing (TIF) can be used to achieve the community’s goals for redeveloping the area. With funding available through TIF and the newly passed Transportation Bond, the City’s next step will be to define what will be funded and how.
Setting up how TIF funds will be used
The City has to determine how to distribute TIF funds once they start accumulating next year.
The City could form a Business Assistance program that grants money to businesses within the district based on certain criteria. It could create a Streetscape Committee to design pedestrian and bicycle updates. And/or it could put out an RFP (request for proposals) for developers to pitch their projects to receive SDC (Systems Development Charges) exemptions. How those programs are designed will determine who benefits from TIF funds.
How TIF Funds are Distributed will Shape the BCD
Using the Business Assistance example, a future program could prioritize locally-owned businesses and nonprofits that serve current residents. Funds could be used for COVID-related building updates, façade and street-front improvements, or owning their own space – all of which would benefit the broader community as well as the business. Or it could direct funds toward corporations that sell goods out of the area or cater to tourists. Either way, you can see how the targeted recipients of TIF funding would shape how the district evolves and who benefits from its growth.
We will advocate for committees and/or decision-making processes that are inclusive and center the needs of the people and local businesses at highest risk of displacement while supporting the type of redevelopment that will provide housing and create a vibrant, healthy neighborhood.
The people who know the most about the need for affordable housing, infrastructure improvements and what the BCD needs to become a complete neighborhood are the people who live, work and commute there. But they may not be tuned into this process, which is why LandWatch’s outreach and education through the BCD Initiative is so important.
Our goal is to get people excited about the BCD vision through efforts like #proyectomural, and advocate as a community for public investments that build community wealth instead of gentrification and displacement.
Our BCD Visionary Board has been moving the BCD forward at a grassroots level. LandWatch convened this diverse group of residents, stakeholders and issue experts to steward the community’s vision for the Bend Central District. Their outreach, creative placemaking and community-building has generated authentic support and more inclusive participation.
Another key role the Visionary Board plays is to facilitate connections and spark ideas:
- Kurt Petrich, a landowner on the board worked with the group to create a concept for a mixed-use development on his vacant property.
- Two other board members from the development community have teamed up to buy a piece of property on the edge of the BCD and they now plan to build housing there.
- The Visionary Board convened a task force to address the concerns of businesses impacted by illegal activity near the Bottle Drop at 2nd & Hawthorne from a holistic perspective that works toward root causes.
With the plans, resources and community support finally in place to revitalize the heart of Bend, we are entering an exciting phase for the BCD. LandWatch will continue working to ensure the underutilized core transforms into a vibrant, healthy and inclusive mixed-use neighborhood with safe connections between east and west Bend.
P.S. The BCD Initiative is a project of Central Oregon LandWatch, a non-profit that relies on support from our members. We need your support to continue doing this work. Right now, all donations to LandWatch will be matched 3x! Please consider becoming a member of LandWatch today and triple your impact.