Seat Pleasant city officials hope a multi-million dollar project to add a new city hall and senior housing puts a new face on the central area municipality and public-private partnerships.
Officials have partnered with Vienna, Va.-based “green” developer Kratos Infrastructure LLC for the “City Center” project, expected to cost between $30 million and $50 million and include a 36,000-square-foot city hall, a 49,000-square-foot senior housing building, a 13,000-square-foot community center, 59,000 square feet of commercial space and five acres of land for recreation space such as athletic fields, according to city documents. The project would replace the John E. Feggans Center, which closed in 2009 due to crumbling infrastructure such as a roof that needed replacing.
A groundbreaking date is still in the works, said Seat Pleasant Mayor Eugene Grant, who added that the project could create between 150 to 300 jobs and allow seniors to stay in the community. The existing city hall would be used as the police headquarters since the current headquarters is in the Addison Plaza Shopping Center on Central Avenue, Grant said.
Kratos specializes in energy efficient housing, meaning they will explore options such as solar energy and wind power for each new facility so it can sustain itself outside of an existing electricity grid, said Michael Graham, a Kratos managing partner.
“The people who would get the first opportunity to purchase those senior condos would be people living in the city of excellence first and then it would go out beyond that,” Grant said.
Jacqueline Battle, 55, one of four residents on an advisory committee for the project, said she is excited for “green” development that embraces seniors and youth.
“It brings modernization to our city, which is something that our administrative staff and mayor have been fighting for some time now to bring this community out of the typewriter age and into the computer age,” Battle said. “This is going to be a big step forward to do that.”
To pay for the project, the city will enter into multi-year lease agreements to lease the new buildings back from Kratos, Graham said, adding that the number of years on a lease and costs are still to be determined.
Graham said the partnership would be a solution to problems that plague local municipalities such as aging infrastructure, rising energy costs and declining revenues.
Graham said the partnership is an alternative to a city’s dependence on revenues from appreciating real estate values to fill their general fund, a model he said is “flawed.” Recent housing assessments via the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation have assessed home values in Prince George’s municipalities at lower values and Seat Pleasant was estimated to lose up to $300,000 in real estate tax revenue in fiscal 2013 when it typically receives $1.2 million annually, according to the city administration.
“They really only have two mechanisms to run that particular area of local government and that’s through real estate taxes primarily,” Graham said. “When that went away it put people in a serious situation because the only thing they could do to balance their budget is to increase taxes or get rid of services.”