Lowell drafts plan to fill vacant downtown buildings

2012-10-13T20:30:00Z 2012-10-13T21:12:56Z Lowell drafts plan to fill vacant downtown buildingsMelanie Csepiga Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 13, 2012 8:30 pm  • 

LOWELL | The Town Council is positioning itself to create a designated downtown revitalization area aimed at filling vacant buildings through tax incentives.

The council unanimously followed the Sept. 27 recommendation from the Lowell Redevelopment Commission for the area's footprint.

As recommended, the revitalization area will encompass the entire downtown on Commercial Avenue from the Fremont Street intersection west.

It also will move south of the downtown along Oakley Avenue to capture the former Rieter Automotive property and Tri-Creek School Corp. property where the old Lowell Middle School once stood.

At the downtown's west end "Y," the designated area will pick up land lying between Washington Street and Commercial Avenue.

Town Attorney Gregory Sobkowski will draw up an ordinance to create the revitalization area.

"This is a subset of the town's current tax abatement area, which includes the whole town," Sobkowski said.

He said the designated area may not cover more than 15 percent of the town.

Once the area is created by ordinance, state statute allows a 100 percent tax abatement for up to three years to developers of vacant property within the area, Sobkowski said. Investors petitioning for tax abatement would go before the Town Council.

Each case would be reviewed by the council for a determination regarding any reduced taxes deal.

Using that discretion, the council would weigh whether the improvements would be worth the tax dollars lost.

Redevelopment Commission President Doug Niksch said providing reduced taxes as an incentive could breathe new life into the town's historic downtown district.

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