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Friday, January 13, 2006

Tax Breaks and the Redevelopment of Center City Philadelphia

Earlier this week, The New York Times had an article on the the role of tax breaks in the revitalization of Philadelphia:

AFTER years of losing population, the downtown region, known as Center City, is booming, with developments going up and old buildings being transformed into lofts and condominiums.

The construction, fueled by tax breaks, has succeeded in halting the city's 40-year population decline. Center City, which has the nation's third largest downtown residential population, behind New York and Chicago, is experiencing its fifth straight year of increased housing starts, both new and rehabilitated units. Center City's population grew to 88,000 by the end of 2005 from 78,000 in 2000. Even more striking, the number of households rose by 24 percent, according to figures compiled by the Center City District, a business-improvement group. . . .

[T]he tax-abatement programs have become somewhat controversial. While a small percentage of wealthier residents are living in high-end properties and are paying very little in taxes, a majority of the longtime residents who suffered through the bad years are likely to see their taxes go up as property values rise.

The Fels Institute at UPenn has published an analysis of the impact of tax breaks on new residential development that should be available here. [UPDATE:  Link now working]

Ben Barros

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