The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is primarily a policy-making and major decision-making entity that plans and manages the downtown area. The DDA is a corporate body recognized by State law and used for the last three decades as an important tool in downtown redevelopment. The DDA is eligible to receive certain grant monies, whereas, a local business or merchants association may not qualify.
From an Internal Revenue perspective the DDA is considered to be governmental tax-exempt. The DDA can utilize a variety of financing tools outlined in the Official Code of Georgia. Money created from the implementation of these tools can be used in a number of ways to bring about revitalization and economic development of the central business district.
The DDA can work with volunteers from the local business association, citizens, the city and county to bring about the revitalization of the downtown area or depending on a set of criteria for qualification, a DDA may choose to initiate a Main Street or Better Home Town Redevelopment Program Since the passage of the 1981 Downtown Development Authorities Law, cities of all sizes have created DDAs. Many of these became inactive after changes in federal tax codes in 1986 removed certain tax incentives for downtown improvement loans, but many others have continued to work to strengthen their downtowns. Often simply having a well-structured and focused organization with a comprehensive and long-term view of downtown, cities have seen positive results and have prevented opportunities from being lost.
The Downtown Development Authorities Law of 1981 created “in and for each municipal corporation in the State a public body corporate and politic to be known as the Downtown Development Authority of such municipal corporation…” This law authorizes a DDA in every city in Georgia. It eliminated the need for individual local legislation to establish such authorities, which had previously been the case. These DDAs must be activated by city government before they can function. This is done by first designating the downtown area boundaries with the city; appointing the initial directors of the authority; creating a resolution which also declares that there is a need for such an Authority; pass the resolution and file copies of the resolution with the Secretary of State and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
The DDA Law indicates that each authority shall consist of a board of seven directors. These directors must be taxpayers residing in the county in which the authority is located. At least four of the directors must also be owners or operators of downtown businesses. Directors of authorities created under the DDA law are appointed by the governing body of the municipality. Directors appointed after January 1, 1992 are required to attend and complete at least eight hours of training on downtown development and redevelopment programs.
The authority can undertake commercial, business, office, industrial, parking, or public projects where these will have a benefit for the downtown.