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ORLANDO-Ten-ton construction cranes are beginning to dot the Downtown skyline as the city gambles that $41.8 million in economic incentive packages to developers for new projects will pay off handsomely in an increased tax base and future growth for the blighted central business district.

Even with a record deficit of $23 million showing on the books nine months ago, elected officials have signed off on an unprecedented incentive package to developers that includes cash, tax breaks and loans.

The city is already seeing progress in the start of developer Cameron Kuhn’s $140-million, mixed-use Plaza venture on the three-acre Jaymont Block at Church Street and Orange Avenue. Kuhn, a former carpenter’s helper from Chicago, is receiving a total $22.2 million in incentives. According to the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency which is paying out the incentives, Kuhn is getting $3.5 million in cash up front; another $3.5 million spread over 10 years; 12-year-tax breaks worth an estimated $1.2 million; and a $14-million loan for a 1,000-space parking garage to be paid back over five years.

The second largest recipient is Tampa, FL-based Euro-American Advisors Inc., receiving incentives valued at $14.2 million. Euro-American will be breaking ground in the first quarter on 55 West, a planned $100-million, 306-unit, 31-story condominium-retail-restaurant complex at Church Street and the CSX railroad tracks. Euro-American is receiving a 12-year tax break worth an estimated $2.8 million; a 10-year loan with interest for a $7-million parking garage; a loan for $3 million with interest for ground-floor plaza improvements; and proceeds from the city’s purchase of 100 parking spaces at the condo tower for $1.4 million.

Church Street Station developers Robert Kling and Louis Pearlman have been promised a total $3.5 million in incentives which are tied directly to the redevelopment progress of the seven-acre, former entertainment hub. The developers will receive $1.5 million when their project is half-completed and the balance on completion. They already have 75% of the retail stores along Church Street open and operating.

Locally based CNL Financial Group, one of the largest property owners in Florida, is receiving an incentives package valued at $1.9 million for its 12-story, 350,000-sf CNL Tower at Orange Avenue and South Street, next to City Hall. CNL’s package includes $1.1 million in impact fee credits and discounts on utility costs; $154,000 in development incentives; $627,000 in job-creation incentives; and a land trade with the city. The wants the two-acre parcel for a near-future performing arts center; CNL is getting land and parking spaces next to City Hall.

Besides the new wave of incentives, the city has doled out $26 million in the past four years to Downtown multifamily developers.

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