The whole point of the Allentown NIZ is to reduce rents and encourage development in downtown Allentown. The state subsidies for “developers” are actually a subsidy for the end users of the office space – business tenants. Likewise, Alan Jennings’s proposed surcharge on “developers” will actually be a tax on the tenant businesses who end up renting the space.
I can get down with a Community Benefit Agreement, but think it’s a bad idea to pay for it with something that’s going to raise rents, when the whole point of the NIZ is to reduce rents. The financing method should reinforce what you want people to do, not work against it.
I think ANIZDA should pay for the CBA with a tax that will reduce rents – a small millage increase in Allentown’s land value tax on the land inside the NIZ. Paying for the CBA with the land value tax would tax people for not developing land in the NIZ, instead of taxing people who are developing land.
That is, speculators who own empty parcels that are now quite valuable. These landowners have gotten a windfall in the land value of their properties for no other reason than that the state passed the NIZ law. Folks who are simply pocketing that windfall and not building anything new are using valuable land poorly, and it makes sense that they should face a tax penalty for waiting to avail themselves of these very powerful state subsidies.
One way to do this might be to layer a Neighborhood Improvement District onto the NIZ land parcels, and then pay for whatever services you want with a small increase only on the land portion of Allentown’s split-rate property tax.