PlanPhilly

The city's financial watchdog isn't convinced Philly builders need a tax break

The city’s financial watchdog is conducting “a fair, independent analysis” on the impact of adjusting or ending the city’s 10-year property tax abatement, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jacob Adelman reports. City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart recognizes that “when the tax abatement was created, Philadelphia needed it” to spur development. However, she notes that “the city isn’t in the same place as it was when the policy was created," asking "does keeping [the abatement] intact prevent much-needed funding from flowing to the school district”? Her question is timely, given Mayor Jim Kenney's proposal to increase school funding through raising property taxes, a tax hike that would hit some owners while others continue to be exempt. Rhynhart says the study will explore alternatives “such as limiting the tax break to improvements valued at $500,000 or lower or continuing it only in neighborhoods most in need of investment. The development incentive went into effect in 2000, a time when the city was just beginning to experience the development boom that has transformed Center City over the last two decades. The owners of 20,000 properties had claimed the exemption as of a year ago, according to a March 2017 report from the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia.  Look out for the release of Rhynhart's report next month.

Fruitful or unrealistic? Depends on who you ask

Tuesday's contentious stadium town hall, cut short by protestors, “was not reflective of the ‘fruitful’ interactions the university has had with nearby neighbors over the last 18 months,” according to Temple spokesman Ray Betzner. “The conversations we’ve been having have been very, very helpful in getting people to understand what the potential here is, what the possibility here is,” Betzner tells WHYY News’ Aaron Moselle. Critics of the stadium call the optimistic outlook “unrealistic.” Gail Loney, a member of the Stadium Stompers, asked pointedly, “I don’t hear anybody touting the praises of a stadium in North Philadelphia, either. Where are they?” Loney has criticized the university’s listening and engagement approach, telling WHYY News’ Emily Scott “the university should reconsider the way it talks with the community.” The Philadelphia Tribune reported previously that even Temple faculty doubt that university officials have been honest with them regarding which community members they are consulting with. The university shared the full introductory remarks that Temple President Englert was unable to make at the Town Hall Tuesday here.

Moselle reports that City Council President Darrell Clarke “reiterated Thursday that he won’t consider supporting the proposed stadium until the university wins over the community.” And at its current state, Clarke says, “as far as I’m concerned, it’s not going anywhere.”

ISO: Stories of life in Frankford

The Historical Society of Frankford is collecting stories from friends, neighbors, and residents that will be compiled logged and kept in both an electronic file and a printed out open book file. In particular, the historical society is looking for stories in four categories: 1) Memories of Frankford, 2) Families of Frankford, 3) Organizations of Frankford, and 4) Where I worked in Frankford.

About the author

Diana Lu, Community Engagement Editor

Diana runs PlanPhilly’s community outreach and engagement online and in real life. She has spent more than ten years in the non-profit and public sectors working on urban development issues including environmental justice, design-based manufacturing, and community and economic development.  Prior to joining PlanPhilly, Diana worked as the Director of Partnerships and Outreach for 10,000 Small Businesses, a public-private initiative focused strengthening local businesses through revenue generation and local job creation.  Follow Diana on instagram @dianaluwho and email her at dlu@whyy.org.



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