Daily Archives: April 22, 2008

Downtown developers fight to roll back property tax breaks

Arizona Center[Source: Mike Sunnucks, Business Journal of Phoenix] — Real estate developers, city governments, and heavyweight business interests have come out in force against a state measure that would restrict special property tax breaks for development projects and certain businesses.  State Sen. Ken Cheuvront, D-Phoenix, wants to restrict cities from doling out Government Property Lease Excise Tax deals.  GPLETs involve cities leasing their land to developers and businesses, allowing the latter to pay lower property taxes than if they owned the land.

Several downtown Phoenix office projects (including the Colliers Center and Arizona Center), Cabela’s sporting good store in Glendale, a planned private hospital in Goodyear, and Arizona State University’s SkySong tech center in Scottsdale are GPLETs.

Cheuvront contends GPLETs are “corporate welfare” and wants the state to impose new rules restricting their use under Senate Bill 1360.  But the idea faces a host of business, real estate, and local government critics who say the tax breaks help economic development.  They prefer a less strident bill put forward by state Rep. John Nelson, R-Glendale, which would establish standard procedures for handing out GPLETs.  Backers of the Nelson measure, House Bill 2803, include several Arizona cities, a number of chambers of commerce, and a host of real estate interests, including the International Council of Shopping Centers, Westcor, DMB Associates, Valley Partnership, Suncor Development Co., and RED Development.  Cheuvront said city governments and real estate developers are trying to stall his bill in the Legislature.

[Note: Click here to read related Arizona Republic column by Laurie Roberts.]

This Earth Day, remember “green” means preserving, not destroying

The reuse of existing buildings is one of the highest forms of sustainable design, and here’s a fact sheet from the National Trust for Historic Preservation that can help you convey that message.

One of the priority issues of Downtown Voices Coalition is preservation.  Summary recommendations are listed below; more detailed position statement here.

  • Historic designation proceedings need to be streamlined, with a maximum of 120 days for completing the process.
  • Ordinances need to be strengthened and strictly enforced to discourage illegal demolition of historic structures.
  • Demolition approval should be denied when there is evidence of deterioration by deliberate neglect.
  • Ways should be explored to encourage adaptive re-use of historic buildings, including older structures that may not qualify for historic designation.

Tour Phoenix’s Pioneer and Military Memorial Park, April 27

The City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department is giving free self-guided tours of the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park.  Dating to the 1880s, the seven cemeteries that make up the park are the final resting place for about 3,700 veterans and such Arizona pioneers as Jacob Waltz, known as the “Lost Dutchman,” and John T. Alsap, Phoenix’s first mayor and Maricopa County’s first probate judge.