Duluth to discuss Buford Highway TAD

DULUTH -- Duluth residents will have the opportunity to comment on creating the Buford Highway Corridor Tax Allocation District later this month.

The city's first tax allocation district is being proposed to encourage redevelopment and revitalization of aging commercial areas alongside Buford Highway.

Duluth Economic Development Manager Chris McGahee announced Monday that a special called meeting and public hearing to gather input on the Buford Highway Corridor TAD is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

The potential TAD stretches along Buford Highway, running parallel to the railroad for approximately three miles from North Berkeley Lake Road to Old Peachtree Road, and passes alongside the Duluth Town Center.

The revitalized corridor would feature a mix of residential and commercial uses designed to make the area "a vibrant place to live, work and shop."

Included in the proposed TAD are 256 parcels on approximately 457 acres. The current market value of these parcels is $157.7 million, and the taxable value is $64.8 million. These parcels represent approximately 5.7 percent of the city's taxable value of $1 billion.

Duluth voters approved a referendum in November 2007 authorizing the city to create TADs.

A draft of the TAD proposal is posted on the city Web site at www.duluthga.net.

In other action at Monday's meeting, the council selected Atlanta-based Sky Design to develop a community identity and wayfinding signage program for the city. The council authorized the expenditure of $10,000 in budgeted funds for the firm to proceed with Phase 1, which includes researching potential locations and kinds of signs the city needs.

City Clerk Teresa Lynn City reported that the city's "Calaboose," built in 1908 with $500 in government funds, is officially 100 years old. The town jail was "always full on Saturday nights," according to historical records, and excess prisoners were housed in empty railroad boxcars.

The Calaboose was featured in the 2007 "Duluth Re-Visited" video and is recognized by the Duluth Historical Society as one of the city's historic tourist attractions.

Public Relations and Marketing Director Alisa Williams revealed plans for holiday activities in the city including Hometown Holidays Dec. 5 and 6 and the first New Year's Eve Extravaganza Dec. 31. Also, the Red Clay Theatre will be hosting a black-tie optional New Year's Eve VIP Gala. More information is available on the city's Web site.