Riverview Commons may undergo $5.5 million redevelopment

Photo by Sue Suchyta Economic Development Corporation members learned that the Riverview Commons Rite Aid is slated for renovation.

Photo by Sue Suchyta
Economic Development Corporation members learned that the Riverview Commons Rite Aid is slated for renovation.

 

TIF money may fund $1.5 million

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

RIVERVIEW – Riverview Commons, southwest of Sibley and Fort, may undergo a $5.5 million renovation if $1.5 million in tax incremental financing is approved under the Brownfield Redevelopment “functionally obsolete” classification.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation board met Aug. 28 with Community Development Director Dave Scurto and Jeremy McCallion, Sustainability Services Director for AKT Peerless of Farmington, to learn how TIF could be used for eligible renovation activities that include asbestos and lead removal and demolition.

“There are really no environmental issues out here that we are dealing with,” McCallion said. “We do have some lead and asbestos surveying and abatement, which is a pretty small amount.”

Tax Increment Revenue, the new property tax revenue that is generated when a property is redeveloped and improved as a result of a Brownfield plan, supports the Tax Incremental Financing used to support projects. The capture period for Riverview Commons would likely be 30 years, through 2047.

Scurto said his department has been anxious to redevelop Riverview Commons for years, and faced delays with a past owner of the complex. He said in 2016 a new owner came aboard after purchasing the property at auction, and it took until the beginning of 2017 to get closing documents before the new owner could launch a Brownfield Redevelopment Plan.

Riverview Commons, which has a 30 percent vacancy rate, needs a new building facade and roof replacement, as well as an upgrade to the building’s mechanical systems, replacement of the asphalt parking lot and the construction of a storm water runoff system.

Scurto said the parking lot will be replaced, not patched. He said they are facing a time crunch to get approvals so the asphalt work can occur before November, after which the weather would make the work untenable.

It is hoped that the property transformation will help retain commercial and retail businesses and attract new tenants to the complex while it removes what is currently an aesthetic blight.

The Scharf Group LLC of Brooklyn is the project developer. The site, on 8.9 acres, was constructed in 1977, with 89,311 square feet in the single-story complex.

“Functionally obsolete” refers to under-performing properties that have lost value as a result of factors like over-capacity, changes in technology, deficiencies in design and other factors in the surrounding area that impact its value.

The 12 businesses currently at the site will continue to operate during the renovation activities, and will not be displaced as a result of the Brownfield plan.

Mayor Andrew Swift asked if a redeveloped Riverview Commons would compete with Riverview Plaza, at the southwest corner of Fort Street and Pennsylvania Road, for the same tenants.

Scurto said they hope the new tenants will be complementary to, not a duplication of retail establishments like Riverview Plaza, and the marketing team tasked with attracting new tenants is surveying stores that are already in the area.

Scurto said the first step will be to re-sign the current tenants and to replace the parking lot to stabilize the development.

He said that residents are expressing significant interest in new jobs that might be created at the redeveloped Riverview Commons as well as at Riverview Plaza.

(Sue Suchyta can be reached at sue.suchyta@yahoo.com.)