Caltagirone: House passes bill to encourage redevelopment of abandoned and blighted properties

HARRISBURG, May 13 – House Urban Affairs Committee Democratic Chairman Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said the House of Representatives today unanimously passed a measure designed to incentivize economic development in cities and towns across the state.

House Bill 613 would establish the Tax Exemption and Mixed-Use Incentive Program. It is designed to provide tax exemption incentives to developers and property owners in order to encourage new construction in deteriorated areas of depressed communities and improvements to certain deteriorated commercial, residential and industrial property.

Caltagirone, a co-sponsor of the bill, said a primary focus of the legislation is to encourage mixed-use development. Such development would include projects that incorporate residential, commercial, industrial, cultural or institutional uses.

"Mixed-use development is the tie that binds improved housing, retail and business spaces," Caltagirone said. "We're narrowing-in on places that need help the most.

"Revitalizing a main street, downtown or any economically depressed area is a huge undertaking – it takes incentives. These tax incentives stand to breathe life back into suffering boroughs, towns and cities."

The bill also would provide a yearly exemption schedule for eligible properties. For instance, during the first, second and third years of improvements or new construction, 100 percent of the eligible tax assessment would be exempted. The eligible assessment would move to 90 percent for the fourth year and 75 percent for the fifth year.  

In addition, the completed new construction or improvements would be required to conform to zoning ordinance requirements, as well as increase the value of the property by at least 25 percent.

"The benefits this bill could bring to the city of Reading immediately come to mind," Caltagirone said. "Throughout our commercial and historic districts, Reading is the perfect candidate for a program like this."