DDA gets Gateway approval

Tia Lynn Ivey News

As the West Washington Gateway revitalization effort moves forward with a $1.3 million stormwater project, the Downtown Development Authority secured up to $35,000 a year in funding from the City of Madison to be exclusively used for the project.

At Monday Night’s regular meeting, the Madison Mayor and City Council unanimously approved an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the DDA to provide backup funding, which is not to exceed $35,000 annually, to ensure the project can be completed without any gaps in funding.

“To work on the West Washington Gateway, we need approval from the city,” said Ed Latham, chairman of the DDA. “This is just a legal thing that has to take place, that we have to get done to move forward.”

While the IGA secures backup funding up to $35,000 annually, the DDA won’t necessarily use City funding for the project.

“They will only pull it, if they need it,” said Director of City Planning Monica Callahan. “If they don’t need it, they won’t pull it.”

The IGA also satisfies a requirement of the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA), which awarded the DDA last year with a low-interest $1.6 million loan for the project.

According to Monica Callahan, director of city planning, The DDA’s 15-year Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) loan includes an exceptionally low interest rate–.77 percent–in order to acquire the remaining parcels of property in the West Washington Gateway and then to clear the negative eyesores from the area and install expanded and upgraded infrastructure to facilitate future development in the City of Madison. While above ground will be fresh and clean, most of the work will be unseen underground, with the installation and replacement of piping and the creation of A wet pond to equip the area to retain more stormwater. The City approving the IGA gives the DDA the funding buffer they need to move forward with the project.

“Last night was the last piece in the puzzle,” said Callahan. “Now we have everything we need in place to move forward with this.”

The project was originally estimated to cost about $3 million dollars, but a DDA committee worked to redesign the project to whittle the cost down to $1.3 million.

“I think the DDA Opportunity Committee did a really good job of cost-engineering and deciding which parts were essential and which parts could go without hurting the overall end game,” said Callahan.

According to Callahan, the project is estimated to began in mid-July and should take eight months to complete. Once the stormwater component is complete, the DDA will begin marketing the lots available for sale in the West Washington Gateway, and using the money from any sales to pay down its debt to GEFA and to complete Phase II of the project which will include paving, masonry work, an overlook wall, wetland, and other amenities.

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