July 28, 2002. The Columbus Dispatch.
The city’s first tax incentive for individual homeowners will become available at the end of next month for anyone who makes significant renovations or builds new homes on the South Side or in one of four other older neighborhoods.
“This is some of the most important legislation I’ve seen since I’ve lived in central Ohio,” said Bob Leichty of the Merion Village Association. “This is a really cool thing that the city is doing.”
Individuals or developers who build new housing in the Community Reinvestment Areas (CRA) would qualify for 100-percent, 15-year property tax abatements. Property owners who invest 50 percent of the value of a house or apartment complex in improvements also would qualify for abatements on the improvements.
Citywide projects that would not otherwise qualify might be considered if they significantly affect the stabilization of an area. The incentives will be available for five years, starting Aug. 26.
The program, which was proposed earlier in the year by Mayor Michael B. Coleman, will help stabilize both home ownership and school enrollment, said Councilwoman Charleta Tavares, who chairs the health, housing and human services committee. It is intended help reverse urban flight by attracting people to central neighborhoods.
“This helps to reestablish home ownership in our neighborhoods as a key priority,” Columbus Development Director Mark Barbash said. “It’s not just for housing, but to encourage broader community investment as well.”
As the housing stock improves and more residents own homes, officials expect commercial investment to follow. “Columbus, along with Franklin County, has taken significant steps for the revitalization of the housing stock in older neighborhoods,” said the Rev. LeAnneReat of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Franklinton and vice president of the BREADorganization.
She commended the city and county’s joint efforts with the Columbus/Franklin County AffordableHousing Trust Fund and the implementation of the city’s land-bank program, but she called on central Ohio leaders to keep working to create quality affordablehousing.
“Nevertheless, more than 50,000 families in Franklin County pay more than 50 percent of their incomes for housing,” Reat said. “And the safety of rental units is still an issue. That’s why we’re calling for landlord registration.”
City council approved legislation Monday night to create Community Reinvestment Areas in the Hilltop, South Linden, the South Side and in two East Side neighborhoods, one north of East Broad Street and one south of East Main Street. Those neighborhoods were chosen because their needs and attributes.
The population of the South Side area has declined by 10.7 percent in 10 years, according to 2000 U.S. Census numbers.
School enrollment declined by 14.26 percent and the 1990 poverty rate was listed as 33.7 percent.
The Columbus Development Department, however, highlighted several positive signs: the many nonprofit community development organizations, street improvements on Parsons Avenue, the new fire station, a pending city-led neighborhood plan, improvement plans for South Fourth Street and the Merion-Southwood pocket park project.