A N A C T
RELATING TO THE DOWNCITY SECTION OF PROVIDENCE
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
WHEREAS, The Downcity section of Providence is an important state resource because of the high quality of its architecture, the important role that it has played in the history of the state, and the proximity of Downcity to the Capital Center and other areas of major investment; and
WHEREAS, Downcity is the home of such important institutions as Trinity Repertory Company, Johnson & Wales University, the Providence Performing Arts Center, the University of Rhode Island's Providence Campus, Roger Williams University's Providence Campus, the Rhode Island School of Design, the Rhode Island Convention Center and the Westin Hotel, both of which the state has a substantial investment in; and
WHEREAS, In recent decades the Downcity area has suffered from loss of retail and office space, and currently has extensive vacancies on the upper floors; and
WHEREAS, New private investment is needed to rehabilitate buildings and introduce economically viable uses to the area, but investment has been insufficient because of the high cost of renovation and the difficulty of obtaining commercial tenants;
THEREFORE, The General Assembly finds that is in the public interest to provide property tax incentives for owners of under-utilized property in the Downcity district, so that they may substantially rehabilitate their properties and attract new residential, commercial, and institutional uses. The General Assembly also finds that it is in the public interest to offer these incentives for a limited period in order to bring about the rehabilitation of deteriorated properties on an expedited basis.
SECTION 2. The Providence City Council may by ordinance create a Downcity Tax District, and provide special tax considerations for designated properties within the district.
Upon enactment, property taxes levied on eligible properties as of December 31, 2000 shall reflect the adopted tax considerations. Owners of eligible properties are required to begin renovations by December 31, 2003 in order to qualify for continued tax considerations. Properties that fail to meet this deadline will be required retroactively to pay the difference between their actual tax payments and what they would have paid if ineligible for the specified tax considerations.
Eligible properties shall be taxable properties located within the area bounded by Dorrance, Pine, Empire and Sabin Streets within the City of Providence; and shall have been more than fifty percent (50%) vacant as of December 31, 1999 or, although more than fifty percent (50%) occupied, shall be eligible if certified by the city Building Inspector as in need of substantial rehabilitation.
Buildings demolished after December 31, 1999 shall be ineligible. Properties already vacant as of this date shall be eligible if the owners construct new structures, including parking garages. Tax benefits for eligible properties shall be transferable to new owners or tenants, but the life of the tax considerations shall not be extended.
Substantial rehabilitation shall mean rehabilitation that adheres to the applicable building and fire codes, extends to all occupiable floors of the building, and equals at least fifty percent (50%) of the current replacement value of the structure, as certified by the city Building Inspector.
This statute shall not diminish the authority of any body to review and approve the construction plans for overall appearance or historical preservation standards.
The City of Providence shall have the authority to provide tax considerations for a period beginning with the assessments of December 31, 2000 up to and including December 31, 2010. During this period, eligible properties shall pay annual taxes on land and buildings in an amount equal to the tax assessed as of December 31, 1998. This tax shall be fixed regardless of changes in the tax rate, or of changes in valuation resulting from periodic revaluation. During this period of eligibility, the tax shall be fixed regardless of increased property value resulting from substantial rehabilitation.
During the period of eligibility, Providence shall also be authorized to use special considerations in taxing tangible property located in businesses in eligible properties. For the ten year period, the rate of thirty-three dollars and forty-four cents ($33.44) shall be applied annually to tangible property value as it is determined and may change from year to year. This consideration shall apply to all taxable businesses occupying eligible properties during the period of eligibility, regardless of when they first occupied the property.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect upon passage.