Most city neighborhoods get little in enterprise tax breaks

Close to 300 commercial properties in Baltimore are getting a property tax break this year thanks to the city’s Enterprise Zone program, which has a stated purpose of attracting development and jobs to poorer areas.

But while the benefits were spread among 80 city neighborhoods, most parts of town didn’t see big breaks, according to a Baltimore Sun analysis of city tax records.

In almost half the neighborhoods, the tax break for all owners — collectively — didn’t hit $10,000.

Most neighborhoods on the list had three or fewer recipients, and most individual discounts were smaller than $7,000, with dozens falling shy of $500. For one store owner in Southwest Baltimore, the credit amounted to barely $2.

In only six neighborhoods did the total enterprise tax benefits cross the $1 million mark: downtown, the Inner Harbor (including Harbor East), Fells Point (mainly because of the Morgan Stanley building at Harbor Point), the Canton Industrial Area (thanks in large part to the Canton Crossing retail and office development), Mid-Town Belvedere (principally the Fitzgerald apartment, retail and parking complex) and the Locust Point Industrial Area (site of the McHenry Row mixed-use development).

The tax break epicenter was Harbor East, with $6 million of the $17.2 million in enterprise zone tax breaks citywide. John Paterakis Sr., who began developing the area in the 1990s, says those and other public subsidies were critical ingredients in the area’s success.

“I can honestly say, if we didn’t have some of the benefits that came with the enterprise zone and … whatever the city could do for us, that would be an empty piece of land,” he said. “We’re not making anything to talk about anyway, because when you build, it takes time for you to be rewarded.”

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