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TAD Committee approves The Garage Fitness application for funding

The Statesboro Downtown Tax Allocation District Committee held a brief meeting on Monday, at which they approved Christina Gipson's application for $50,000 of funding to be used for the beautification of the property behind the post office, which will soon be the new site of "The Garage Fitness." Read here for more details about the TAD Committee meeting.
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Rendering for the new "Garage Fitness" coming to 202 West Main in downtown Statesboro

The July 8, 2024 meeting of the Statesboro Downtown Tax Allocation District (TAD) Committee was called to order at 4:02pm by Chair Doug Lambert.

The committee approved the minutes of the June 25 meeting, and the financial report was rescheduled for the next meeting due to the absence of presenter Cindy West.

Olympia Gaines, assistant to the city manager, updated the committee on the progress of the art park, stating that art should be installed in about two weeks.

With no old business on the table discussion about the application for The Garage Fitness, which will be located at 202 West Main began, with a presentation by Chris Gohagan on behalf of Christina Gipson, the owner of The Garage Fitness. The Garage Fitness is currently located at 61 East Main Street in Downtown Statesboro.

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Kathy Fields, Chris Gohagan and Christina Gipson

The property has functioned as an automotive shop for a number of years and sits next to Habitat for Humanity and behind the post office.

Gohagan explained and provided pictures that showed a property lacking aesthetic value, with the purpose of the $50,000 proposed TAD funding to be used to beautify the area.

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The property is not undergoing reconstruction, but rather extensive rehabilitation. Many elements such as the roll up doors will remain as an asset to the function of the gym. The space will be “opened up” for fitness classes, and storage space will be fitted.

Additionally, parking will be improved and slightly expanded.

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Gohagan explained that the request is fitting of the mandates for TAD funding and provides co-beneficial opportunities for the community. Revenues for the business are projected to increase, and he said that the project should be “self-funded’ in the coming years with the property's tax increment contribution potentially raising above $2,500.

Gipson is seeking about 10% of the total $500,000 project costs from the committee, which would benefit the city through beautification and revitalization of an area that needs it. The need for this funding is especially imperative considering the Environmental Protection Agency's requirements and the challenges that the property presented.

Because it was previously used as an automotive shop and there was suspected chemical leaching from a neighboring property, multiple phases of investigation and cleanup had to be conducted, resulting in a much higher anticipated cost.

These issues are now resolved, and with permitting and committed financing secured, Gipson is asking for help to finish the project, with the gym hoping to open in the coming weeks.

The committee approved Gipson’s application. It now moves forward to the City Council for final approval

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Doug Lambert speaking with Jason Boyles seated on right and Cain Smith seated on left

Chair Lambert directed the next order of business to the City Attorney Cain Smith, asking how HB 581 (homestead exemption) that was recently signed by Governor Brian Kemp is going to impact TAD.

In short, Smith believes that it should be unaffected because so few of the properties in the TAD are commercial developments rather than homesteads. He says that if the city lowers property tax as a result of the bill, then it is likely that funding for TAD will decrease.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:28pm.