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Last night the Bloomington City Council questioned the criteria for granting tax breaks to developers. The company, Big O Properties, asked for a tax abatement from the city for a proposed mixed-use development on South Walnut Street downtown.
Danise Alano-Martin, the city’s Director of the Economic and Sustainable Development, recommended the council approve the abatement request. Alano-Martin says the development meets the criteria of enhancing the community character, using sustainable building materials, and reversing the cessation of growth associated with the one-story building that is currently on the property.
Jason Carnes, who also works in the Economic and Sustainable Development department, presented calculations showing a projected increase in property value that would generate tax revenue for the city.
In a preliminary vote the council showed favor for a three year-tax abatement for the development. But multiple members expressed disappointment about offering a tax cut to a residential property that does not include affordable housing.
“I like this project,” said Council member Dorothy Granger. “I appreciate the changes that you came back with…I am very disappointed at the prices of the apartments. I couldn’t afford one. But I know that’s what things go for in this community. I just want to put it out there that I’m very much for more affordable housing for working people.”
Council member Dave Rollo also commented: “I think my biggest disappointment is the rent, the affordability, and in the future I would really emphasize the affordability component. It’s very important, I think, to everyone here on the Council.”
Five Council members voted for the tax break. Councilmember Marty Spechler voted no and Councilmembers Darry Neher, Steve Volan and Andy Ruff abstained.