People shop in downtown Salem in the winter. (Caleb Wolfe/Special to Salem Reporter)
Salem’s Urban Renewal Agency will meet Monday evening to consider borrowing $10 million to pay for construction projects, bike infrastructure, improvements to streets and alley lighting, as well as a homeless shelter in the downtown area.
If the agency signs off on the proposal, the money will be spent in the 290-acre Riverfront-Downtown Urban Renewal Area in the city’s center. The area is one of seven urban renewal areas in Salem. These special districts use property taxes generated in them for projects intended to attract private investment while boosting property values.
A city document describes how the $10 million will be spent.
● $2.5 million will be used to support a mix of new construction, alley improvements, historic preservation, beautification and projects to help retain, recruit or expand new businesses.
● $1.2 million will be used for streetscape improvements that could include new sidewalks, tree wells, “pedestrian light enhancements” and others.
● $150,000 to improve Salem’s distinct alleyways, including increased lighting.
● $1.5 million to add a bike lane and safety improvements from Commercial Street to Church Street.
● $2 million for a navigation center, a shelter that’s a key part of the city’s strategy to reduce homelessness. Last year, a state report recommended Salem build a navigation center, which would serve as a 24-hour facility that would help people find aid for housing and other resources.
● $1.63 million in grants for additional streetscape and alley improvements that are outside of planned projects and are proposed in conjunction with private developments.
The $10 million spending plan also calls to keep just under $1 million in reserves. The money will be paid back through taxes generated in the district. Details about the debt, including interest rates, have not been worked out yet.
The Riverfront-Downtown Urban Renewal Area, established in 1975, is permitted to take on $315 million in debt. It’s already taken on $113.5 million in debt and has a current capacity of $201.5 million.
Meeting details: 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 12., via Zoom. Link: https://www.cityofsalem.net/Pages/Public-Comment-at-Salem-City-Council-Meeting.aspx
Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.
SUPPORT SALEM REPORTER'S JOURNALISM - A monthly subscription starts at $5. Go HERE. Or contribute to keep our reporters and photographers on duty. Go HERE. Checks can be sent: Salem Reporter, 2925 River Rd S #280 Salem OR 97302. Your support matters.