Richmond considers tax exemption to spur growth

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - How about paying no real estate taxes for five years? The city of Richmond is considering a new ordinance that would do just that. The goal of the tax exemption is to help spur growth in certain neighborhoods in the city.

The ordinance being considered says if you build a house on an empty lot, in designated areas around the city, you would not have to pay real estate taxes on the new home for five years.

Old homes are being renovated all the time in places like Church Hill. Now the city council is turning its attention to the empty lots that sit next door.

Council woman Ellen Robertson is spear heading a new ordinance she says will avoid more blight and spur growth.

"There are frequently vacant lots that just do that you know gap in the tooth sort of thing and we don't have a tool in the chest to help us address that," said Robertson.

There are about 1500 vacant lots around the city. Now this ordinance is supposed to help people build about 200 homes a year.

"I think it's a great deal and I think it's the kind of deals that we have to do in order to get the right people back in the community," said Bruce Tyler, Richmond City Council Member.

The council is still batting around the amount of the exemption. Right now it sits at 100 percent for five years. It started out at 50 percent.

"It's great encouragement to build a house. I think there's some concern on council as to whether or not 100 percent is appropriate. Whether or not that's giving away the farm," said Charles Samuels, Richmond City Council Member.

The city stands to lose a little less than $200,000 a year in real estate taxes, but as Ellen Robertson points out, that's also tax money that would not have existed without the ordinance.

"That's the tax break that they get for moving into a community that's still suffering from blight," Robertson said.

The ordinance still needs to get through two committees. It could be before council for a vote by the end of the summer. If passed, the tax exemptions on new construction in these districts would start next January.

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