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College Park City Council appears poised to give a student housing project a tax cut that the project was once ineligible for.
At its March 9, 2021 meeting, a divided College Park city council approved a measure that allows the city to give an otherwise ineligible development project a revitalization tax credit through a waiver. , but only if municipal authorities have previously granted one to a specific development. by mistake. The measure was approved by five votes to three, with city councilors Fazlul Kabir, Maria Mackie and Denise Mitchell voting against. Councilors Katie Kennedy, Monroe Dennis, Llatetra Esters, Dennis Rigg and Robert Day voted in favor.
The revitalization tax credit changes were boosted by a tax credit for the Tempo multi-family student housing project of Rhode Island-based Gilbane Development Co., which is already under construction near the Berwyn intersection. Road and Baltimore Avenue. The 300-unit project was previously known as the Northgate Development.
The project claimed a revitalization tax credit in 2019, with a total value of $ 571,000 over the five-year term of the credit. The request was processed by city staff and unanimously approved by College Park City Council at its January 14, 2020 meeting. But student housing projects are not eligible for the tax credit program. , a rule approved by city council in 2015. Somehow, this discrepancy went unnoticed until June 2020, when city staff informed Gilbane officials that the tax credit had been withdrawn because it had been issued in error. In November 2020, Gilbane officials asked College Park to find a way to make them eligible for the tax credit.
Supporters of the waiver said the city needed to correct its mistake in part to show it was a good business partner for the development community.
“This Council unanimously committed to making this tax credit, but it was a mistake,” Rigg said at the meeting. “I support this because it is a way of empowering us and… of becoming an important partner with the whole city again.”
Others in favor of the waiver highlighted the perceived long-term benefits from the student housing project, including the redevelopment of a long-abandoned restaurant site.
“A primary reason for even considering a tax credit for the project was that for years there was a vacant unused property on Route 1 which was indeed an eyesore,” said Dennis. “We’re actually taking a few properties that haven’t been tax-generating and we’re improving and increasing the tax revenues that will end up being multiple-generated.”
Opponents of the waiver said city council should stick to its previously defined policies.
“I don’t think we should answer that mistake by making another mistake,” Mackie said. “I hope we put measures in place to ensure a better process and prevent these mistakes from happening again in the future.”
Tuesday’s city council vote does not automatically grant Gilbane exemption from the tax credit. On the contrary, he only approved an amendment allowing the city to grant such a waiver. College Park City Council will separately consider a waiver request for Gilbane’s Tempo development at a future meeting.