Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Baldwin City Council Committee of the Whole Discusses Neighborhood Revitalization

by Kevin Surbaugh

Monday night, October 24, 2016, the Baldwin City Council meet in the Committee of the Whole to discuss the proposed Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP).  Ed Courton, Baldwin City Community Economic Director, told the committee that after the program was proposed for the new loft's in the old school building at 704 Chapel Street. The staff thought the program would work well for the entire city in a comprehensive way for a number of projects not just one. If the city had a program in place, the city could potentially attract more new residents and businesses to build in the city.
The program would not offer a rebate on the city taxes paid on the land, rather only offer a rebate on city taxes paid on the improvements. It is not a tax abatement. There will be no reduction in tax bills prior to the NRP application. The new construction or rehabilitation must be at least 20% of the valuation.
Ed Courton discusses the proposed NRP
to the Committee of the Whole.
Photographer Kevin Surbaugh
 Some cities do a revitalization district for certain areas, such as downtown or other specific neighborhoods, while other cities include the entire city, which is what city staff is proposing.
The proposed NRP boundary would be the entire city limits of Baldwin City, except tax-exempt buildings such as religious, governmental and educational facilities. The proposed tax rates for residential, commercial and industrial use would be for five years at 100% for new construction followed by five years at a sliding scale of 10% less per year.
Other aspects of the program in residential use would be for building renovations with an affordable housing or historic building designation. Offering a  rebate of 95% over ten years. If the project includes both designations the time for the rebate increases to 15-years.
To remain in the program, the project must conform to all city codes, apply for the program at the time of applying for the building permit. The applicant must also be approved prior to starting construction, which must be completed with-in two years and remain current on their taxes.
Council Member Steve Bauer said that this kind of rebate tells a prospective applicant, that the city is doing everything it can to welcome them.
As an incentive to locate in Baldwin City, Hank Booth, with the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) said, if the program was approved the word will spread within 24-hours among builders and developers.
Dave Hill, Chairperson of the EDC, said that there is thirty-six lots that are build ready, which isn't a lot, but the city wants to grow three percent a year, then the city needs to see twenty new homes built each year.
Jeannette Blackmar, with the Baldwin City Chamber told the committee that the NRP is a proven economic development incentive, but it isn't a silver bullet. The city also must have a comprehensive growth plan and vision in place.
Courton said the staff will get together a draft to move forward on the issue at a future regular council meeting.  

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