Columbus City Council has signed off on a new strategy for offering property tax breaks to developers.
Under the new plan, developers in any of the city’s community reinvestment areas (CRAs) can get their taxes waived for a number of years, but in most neighborhoods they’ll have to invest in affordable housing to get the tax break.
Columbus leaders spent two years revamping the policy for property tax incentives. The city has taken criticism for the past few years for granting tax breaks to developers in well-off neighborhoods like the Short North, which some residents argue don't need incentives.
The new ordinance says builders are supposed to set aside one-fifth of their units for mid and low-income residents, although developers can buy their way out of actually building affordable units by contributing to a housing trust fund.
One amendment, tied to the most prosperous CRAs, raises the penalty for renting at market rate to 150 percent of the additional dollars those units generate.
Another change applying to neighborhoods in the middle tier of CRAs would raise the buyout to a one-time, $5,000 fee per affordable unit.
Yes We Can Columbus, a further-left political group, has said the new abatement process will continue fueling gentrification in lower-income neighborhoods.