Public Needs Dornoch Update
Why are sales of the 63 condos at The Monarch of special interest? One reason is assurance of the viability of the project, which includes a city senior center and veterans' center on the ground floor. The senior center opened last year, but terms of the developer's agreement call for sales of all the condos before the veterans' center can be turned over to the city.
In addition, the city is in effect a condo owner by occupying the senior center and is liable for 13 percent of general costs for the four-story building.
The project was also supposed to result in tax revenues to the city, but sales of the two-bedroom units have been slow. Developer Glen Fishman sought a tax abatement last year that would have allowed buyers to pay only 40 percent of property taxes, a proposal that the administration called vital to the success of the project. The governing body did not endorse it. Buyers still had other inducements, including an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers.
Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs usually visits the senior center on the first Tuesday of each month and had given updates on the project from its inception through the center's move from leased space at 305 East Front Street to the new location in November. Perhaps she will be able to say more about how things are going in the rest of the building.
The governing body may also want an update at some point. The Monarch is the only major development project that came to fruition in the past four years, even though more than a dozen others were proposed.
Projects in the works now are mostly small apartment developments, such as eight- and 12-unit conversions in exisiting downtown buildings. Full occupancy of The Monarch would be a big plus not only for the tax revenues, but for the addition of new people who might bring some vibrancy to the downtown.