The City of Dade City has finally gotten around to revising its Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) plan — a document which hadn’t been updated since its original formation back in 1998.
The Dade City Commission in December unanimously approved a modified CRA plan — which looks to address conditions of blight in the core of the city and, according to the new 118-page document, “seeks to position the city for renewed economic success in the 21st century without compromising on the city’s character by leveraging existing physical, cultural and natural resources to encourage private sector investment.”
Work to revise the original CRA plan began in late 2016, with the help of North Carolina-based consulting firm S&ME Inc.
Though a modified plan was completed in 2018, the commission tabled approval until a new city manager was hired, which occurred in April 2019.
Since then, the plan has further been updated to encompass the latest available socioeconomic demographic information, which revealed an even younger profile compared to just two years ago, officials say.
Dade City’s 137-acre CRA district primarily encompasses its downtown corridor between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the U.S. 301/U.S. 98 bypass, stretching south from Coleman Avenue and north of Whitehouse Avenue.
The five-year plan encompasses a wide range of background information on the city, plus community surveys, and various goals and objectives to focus on in the near future.
The following four strategic goals for the CRA were established out of the new plan:
- Increase awareness of Dade City and its amenities
- Establish Dade City as a leisure, cultural and ecotourism hub
- Improve quality of life for current and future residents, and visitors
- Establish Dade City as an entrepreneurial destination for those seeking access and opportunity for new businesses
The plan also summarized various viewpoints on wants and needs within the CRA limits, based on a series of stakeholder interviews conducted by local officials and input collected from the city’s Resident Advisory Committee, Downtown Merchants Association and Dade City Chamber of Commerce, among other groups.
Some of the outlined priorities and other thoughts from stakeholders include:
Emphasize bricks and mortar
- The CRA could benefit from a renewed focus on pedestrian improvements: increasing mid-block crossings, repairing sidewalks and alleyways
- Focus on increasing trail connections and expanding infrastructure surrounding the Hardy Trail
- Increase accessibility of downtown buildings through ADA improvements
Grants (proposed new grants topics)
- Provide grants for ADA improvements
- Provide residential painting grants
- Rental subsidies program
- Historic structure plaque grant
Opportunities for Dade City
- Increase coordination with advertisement for events
- Catering to cyclists with targeted businesses in downtown
- CRA frontage on U.S. 301 to signal presence of downtown (gateway)
- Expand CRA boundaries to include more residential and commercial areas
- Moving the farmer’s market downtown
- Proximity to Saint Leo, and ability to attract and retain millennials
- Cultivating a relationship with local hospital system and Pasco-Hernando State College
Threats to Dade City
- Attorney general opinions regarding use of agency funds for contracted services
- Grant program criteria: project and applicant eligibility, performance criteria and measurement
- High downtown rents
- Downtown flooding
- Not enough family friendly activities
- Downtown businesses not staying open past 5 p.m.
- Matching requirement on grants makes them unattainable for businesses with fewer resources
- Pass-by traffic along U.S. 301/U.S. 98
Commissioner/CRA wish list
- Gateway signage
- Splash pad for kids
- Bring back a movie theater
- Get a community/youth center
- Create a business incubator
- Consistent streetscapes
- Clean up entryways to downtown
- Highlight areas of historical interest
- More duplex housing
- Grocery store
- Evening programming
The comprehensive plan also included details on the city’s ever-changing demographic profile, which reads:
“While Florida is historically known as a state comprised of a primarily older demographic, the median ages for the top five tapestry segments (traditional living, hardscrabble road, social security, down the road, old and newcomers) present in Dade City are below 44.2 years of age. Albeit lower income, the tapestry segments reveal a younger, family oriented demographics than traditionally present within Florida. …More than half of the city’s population is white (67.3 percent) with an almost equal share of Black and Hispanic residents, 20.4% and 20.6%, respectively.”
- Current population just over 7,500
- Approximately 2,600 households
- Median household income is $31,497 (compared to Pasco County’s $45,064)
- Nearly 7% of Dade City households make more than $100,000
The CRA plan is a living document of sorts, meaning it can be adjusted as needed depending on the city leader’s objectives, said Melanie Romagnoli, the city’s community and economic development director.
With that, she recommended the city — given the CRA has two newly elected board members in Knute Nathe and Normita Woodard — do another check-up on the plan in a year “to see if anything needs to be modified, or it’s still the same path that this existing commission wants to go on.”
“We can modify this as many times as we’d like, we just have to provide notice to the county and the state of any modifications that we make,” explained Romagnoli.
Estimated budgets for the CRA across the next five years are as follows: $246,361 (2021), $253,752 (2022), $261,365 (2023), $269,206 (2024) and $277,281 (2025).
Romagnoli indicated at least one issue that needs to be addressed is revisiting some arbitrary timelines for getting certain action-level steps and projects accomplished in the next handful of years.
“Some of them are very unrealistic with current staffing conditions and financial constraints,” said Romagnoli.
“The current CRA does not gather as much money as what’s required for all these things to get accomplished, so we definitely need to revisit it and make sure it’s realistic for us to be able to implement and prioritize and figure out what this commission and CRA board wants to do in the next five years.”
There’s also been discussion about possibly expanding the CRA district beyond its current boundaries, she said, which likely will require many in-depth workshops.
Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez agreed that additional workshops are needed to perhaps further refine the plan and gather input from Nathe and Woodard, first-term commissioners and board members elected back in July.
“I know it’s important to all of us,” Hernandez said of the CRA plan. “It has been a long time in the making and processing. Hopefully we can move forward with the next steps.”
Published January 06, 2021