Editor’s note: Route 1 Reporter is a subscriber-supported local news website. In the interest of the public discourse, articles about government policy are available for free. If you like the reporting, please support Route 1 Reporter on Patreon.
College Park City Council scheduled a public hearing on proposed revisions to laws governing the city’s Revitalization Tax Credit program. Under the proposed changes, previously ineligible projects that were granted a tax credit in error could be given a waiver to re-apply for the tax credit.
The proposed changes to the Revitalization Tax Credit were spurred by a tax credit granted to Rhode Island-based Gilbane Development Co.’s Tempo multi-family student housing project, which is already under construction near the intersection of Berwyn Road and Baltimore Avenue. The 300-unit project was previously known as the Northgate development.
The project applied for a Revitalization Tax Credit in 2019. The application was processed by city staff, and approved by College Park City Council at its Jan. 14, 2020, meeting. But student housing projects are ineligible for the tax credit program, a rule approved by City Council in 2015. Somehow, that discrepancy went unnoticed until June 2020, when city staff informed Gilbane officials that the tax credit was withdrawn because it was issued in error. In November 2020, Gilbane officials asked College Park to find a way to make them eligible for the tax credit.
The tax credit, which reduces city property taxes for a given development over five years, was estimated to be worth $571,000 over the term of the credit. In the first year, the program cuts a project’s property taxes by 75 percent, gradually stepping down each year to 15 percent in the final year.
During its Feb. 23, 2021, meeting, City Council unanimously approved a measure scheduling a public hearing for the revisions. The public hearing is scheduled for City Council’s March 9, 2021, meeting.
Despite the unanimous vote to set the public hearing, City Council is divided over whether or not to make-good on its error.