Advisory committee delays decision on tax incentive
A citizens committee voted Monday evening to wait until its next meeting before offering their recommendation on a new tax incentive to help fill large vacant buildings in redevelopment districts.
Carson City officials said last week they want to offer a 50 percent reduction on the city’s share of the sales tax for empty commercial spaces in redevelopment districts that are more than 15,000 square feet.
A similar, 15-year deal was given to the owners of the Southgate Shopping Center this fall to attract Big Lots! and Big 5 Sporting Goods. Without the incentive, the property owners said the Olive Garden wouldn’t have agreed to build a new restaurant in their shopping center, which will not get a tax reimbursement.
As a result, other property owners with large vacancies cried foul, including the Carrington Group, which owns the Carson Mall. Its largest vacancy, the former Gottschalks, has been empty for more than a year.
Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee member Stan Jones said he wanted to talk to more property owners before making a decision, adding, “I just get a sense there’s not a lot of support for this in this community.”
The committee’s next meeting has not been scheduled; however, regardless of it recommendation, the Board of Supervisors could still consider the proposal.
Under the draft proposal, property owners would have until March 21, 2011 to apply for the incentive.
Other rules include:
• The property owner must have a minimum of 15,000 square feet of vacant commercial space located in a redevelopment area, which includes a swath of land that follows U.S. 395 from the Douglas County border to slightly north of William Street as well as the former Kmart.
• Restaurants will not qualify.
• Vacant buildings must be occupied by April 1, 2012, in order to get the tax reimbursement.
The owner of the Carson Mall has been in talks with a number of retailers to fill the former Gottschalks, including its former CEO Joe Levy, who is trying to revamp the brand.
Mall Manager Kevin Ray said the incentive would give the mall one more bargaining chip to use over other vacant retail spaces throughout the region.
“The sooner the city is able to offer property owners this additional incentive, it will be good,” he said, adding, “The fact that the city has already extended these incentives for one property, it would only be fair across the board if you at least gave everyone the chance to get the same situation.”
But local business owner Tom Henderson said the city should scrap the plan.
“I believe that granting any type of sales tax incentive for any purpose is ill advised,” Henderson said. “I think it’s poor public policy. I encourage you desist immediately.”
Jim Shirk, a Carson City Realtor, said the incentive would be unfair to businesses that may exist just outside its requirements.
“Will it be harmful or unfair to a property owner whose space is 14,496 square feet?” he said. “The business that is just located right outside that redevelopment center? Of course it would be unfair.”
Joe McCarthy, the director of the Office of Business Development, said this could be the last incentive of its type if it is approved.
City Planner Lee Plemmel said if the proposal is taken up by the Board of Supervisors it should also include language that would prohibit existing businesses from moving across county lines or non-redevelopment areas to take advantage of the incentive.