Mayor introduces more tax credits for apartment builders

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's administration on Monday introduced a bill to make 10 years of tax credits available citywide for developers of apartments.

The bill would expand an existing 15-year tax credit program for apartments that's in place for eight targeted areas of the city. The 15-year credits will still apply for those areas, while the rest of the city will be eligible for the 10-year credits, the mayor's office said.

Colin Tarbert, deputy director of the mayor's Office of Economic and Neighborhood Development, said the first year of the targeted program generated about $150 million in investment in Baltimore. He said the mayor's office was made aware of planned apartment developments in other areas that needed financial help to get off the ground.

"We tried to create a credit where we know there's a market demand," he said.

The 10-year credit program will provide an 80-percent property tax break for its first five years, before gradually decreasing to 30 percent by the 10th year. That's an average tax break of 65 percent over the life of the credits.

The credits will apply to any developer that builds at least 20 market-rate rental, residential units that support "neighborhood characteristics" and "historic preservation," the mayor's office said.

The 15-year credits, which went into effect last year, can be used for projects of 50 or more in downtown and seven other areas, including Station North and the Belair Road corridor. The 15-year credits start in years 1 and 2 as a 100 percent break on taxes due for any value added to the property by the project, with that percentage gradually decreasing to 20 percent in years 13, 14 and 15, before being phased out completely.

"A 15-year credit program is not needed citywide," Tarbert said.

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