On Thursday, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced a tax abatement worth $68 million for Easton Town Center, the second-largest job center in the city. Ginther says the new agreement will also provide an economic boost for the neighboring Linden area.
The New York-based development company Georgetown will receive a 10-year zero-tax abatement to build housing in Easton—an estimated 1 million square feet of new residential space.
Tax breaks are often used to spur development in economically depressed areas, but Steve Schoeny, Director of the Department of Development for Columbus, says the additional housing will ensure the area continues as an economic hub.
"It's a long-term strategic play as it relates to keeping that job center at Easton strong," Schoeny says.
Schoeny says Easton employers have expressed the need for more housing within walking distance of their offices. He says the new developments should help these companies attract more workers, especially millennials.
Once the buildings are complete, the owners will pay no property taxes for 10 years. In exchange, Georgetown has agreed to contribute to revitalization efforts in the neighboring Linden area.
The city reports that Georgetown would invest $4.25 million in Linden's infrastructure. The city will pay this back over the course of 30 years. The company would also donate $1.5 million for revitalization efforts in Linden, as well as offer their own services in planning and consultations.
Jennifer Adair, chair of the North Linden Area Commission, says residents have come to her with plenty of questions surrounding the new deal.
She says she explains to them the arrangement is similar to a mortgage. Thanks to this partnership between Georgetown and the city, Adair says Linden now has access to what it needs most: up-front capital.
"It's really a great partnership because we are benefiting, both sides are benefiting," Adair says.
Over the next year, leaders in the Linden community will develop plans for how to use this money. Adair says ideas include replacing sidewalks and street curbs as well as investing in community recreation centers.
When asked if the tax abatement would have been useful in less economically robust areas of the city, Mayor Ginther insisted this is just the beginning of strategic partnerships between the private and public sectors.
"We're not done yet," Ginther says. "Our excitement and energy is the private sector stepping up and responding."
As part of the agreement, Georgetown has also promised to create 500 new jobs at Easton by 2028. The jobs are supposed to be permanent positions that earn upwards of $60,000 a year.