The revitalization of downtown Sanford is a passionate subject for many folks, and for good reason: Sanford has something many Central Florida communities crave, a real downtown.

In that passion to revitalize and maximize downtown’s potential, what is often overlooked is the success that has already occurred.

Consider this: in 1995 there were 26 businesses in the core downtown area. Today there are 230 businesses, according to business tax receipts issued through the city of Sanford (List).

That information was revealed in a study to promote the extension of Sanford’s downtown Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).

Created in 1995, the downtown CRA was designed to remove blight and create a more vibrant area. It’s doing that.

In fact, property values in the downtown CRA have grown 6.11% from 1995 to 2014. That’s better then the countywide average of 4.85% for the same time period.

Sanford’s downtown CRA has also outperformed all other CRA’s in Seminole County. Our county officials like to point to Altamonte Springs’ CRA in the Cranes Roost area as an example of a successful CRA. It is, but it’s less than half as successful as Sanford’s redevelopment efforts. The property values in Altamonte’s CRA only grew 2.84%, compared to Sanford 6.11%.

By no means is the job finished. To that end, the Seminole County Commission agreed to extend the CRA for another 10 years, during which time $36 million in infrastructure improvements will occur to help attract investors for the 96 acres of developable property that are in the downtown CRA.

The future is bright for Sanford, but it needs to be acknowledged that a lot of positive things have already occurred.

– By Dan Ping

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