City of Portage Community Spotlight: A.J. Monroe

City of Portage Community Spotlight: A.J. Monroe

Each Sunday we will feature a project going on within the city, happenings within a department, or someone who works hard to provide services to the community. Today we talk to the Director of Planning and Community Development A.J. Monroe about the role of the Redevelopment Commission in the city.

Look around the city of Portage. Founders Square, Fire Station 3, the recently completed road project on Willowcreek Road and Central Avenue -- all are projects sponsored by the city's Redevelopment Commission (RDC).

The RDC is a unique group, yet used by nearly every municipality in the State of Indiana to redevelop property or spur economic development within a specifically outlined district in a city or town.

The state-authorized entity said the city's Director of Planning and Community Development A.J. Monroe is charged with creating what is known as a Tax Increment Financing or TIF district, and creating plans for the redevelopment of property within that district. Portage has one TIF district.

The RDC is funded in multiple ways. It collects the increment property taxes within the district. For example, if the property tax on a piece of land is $10 prior to being included in the district, the RDC can collect property taxes above that $10 after the property is included in the district.

The funds are then used to redevelop or improve properties within the district.

The RDC also gains revenues from the purchase and sale of lands and from leasing RDC-owned property. For example, in recent years, Portage's RDC has purchased blighted properties along U.S. 20, such as the former Don's Motel. That land is marketed for resale and, when sold, the funds return to the RDC. The RDC also owns the NIRPC building on the north side of the city and collects funds from leasing the building. RDC revenues also come from bank interest, tax abatement fees, and utility reimbursements said Monroe.

The RDC can also issue bonds to finance larger projects in the city.

Much of the downtown Portage improvements over several years were sponsored and funded by the RDC, including the new fire station, police station, Founders Square and its amphitheater and the infrastructure supporting the development.

The RDC also partnered with Holladay Properties in the development of AmeriPlex at the Port.

In 2021, the RDC will be tackling several projects. It is the sponsor of the Central Avenue West Phase 1 project, which will improve Central Avenue between Swanson and Willowdale roads. The RDC will also be sponsoring the next phase of the Marquette Greenway Trail at AmeriPlex; the repaving of the Willowcreek Road Bypass from the Indiana Toll Road to Old Porter Road; the extension of Robbins Road west of Willowcreek Road; remodeling of City Hall (a joint project between the RDC and city) and the next phase of development at Founders Square.

Members of the RDC are Mayor Sue Lynch, Ralph Mundt, Greg Lach, City Councilman Collin Czilli and Allen Eckdahl. Portage Township School Board Member Shaunna Finley is a non-voting member of the commission.

For more information on the city's RDC, visit its website at: