Fund Hoover-Mason Trestle With Value Capture

I don’t think LVCI understands how TIFs work, but I do welcome a debate about the appropriate financing method for Bethlehem’s Hoover-Mason Trestle park.

To me, the best rationale for a public investment in a nice park is to increase nearby land values, creating a nice profit opportunity for developers to build some new buildings or repurpose old ones.

The trouble is that the public might not capture back all of the fruits of its investment, since nearby landowners might just pocket the land windfall and build nothing. Or it might be the case that the land is owned by the government, and wasted on a low-value use like a surface parking lot, as is the case on the east side of the Trestle.

One way to avoid this problem is by paying for the park with value capture financing. First you sell off any city-owned land next to the park, parking lots in particular. Then you draw a line around the park, maybe a half-mile radius wide. Then you levy a small millage increase on the land value portion of all the privately-owned land parcels inside the line.

This would capture back the land value windfall from nearby properties to pay for the park. And it would push those property owners to build sooner, rather than speculate and wait for higher rents.


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