Hermiston’s urban renewal district has increased in value by more than $8 million during its first four years of existence.
The Hermiston Urban Renewal Agency began in 2014 to promote downtown Hermiston by re-investing property tax growth back into enhancements to the downtown core. The area covered by HURA has increased in value by 20 percent, from $42.2 million to $50.5 million.
Assistant city manager Mark Morgan said in a news release that much of the growth has come from the new Holiday Inn Express. HURA’s revenue has increased by $100,000 in the first year of the hotel’s operation. The hotel was given a $36,400 façade grant from HURA and $50,000 for sewer improvements from the city of Hermiston.
Other investments of HURA back into downtown have also helped raise property values, including façade grants to various businesses and a private-public partnership with Mitco Investments to create a new 50-space parking lot open to the public that can be counted toward parking requirements for future commercial development nearby.
“If the main goals of an Urban Renewal Agency are to increase the taxable value and eliminate barriers to new private investment, then I think we can safely say we’re hitting it out of the park so far,” Morgan wrote.
The city plans to begin building a new festival street next to city hall using urban renewal funds this spring, and a new senior center being built at the end of the street is expected to draw more traffic downtown. Morgan said projects in the downtown area were about contributing to “critical mass.”
“The more people we can get to come downtown on a daily basis, the more viable it makes the area for investment by private businesses which depend on passing traffic,” he said.