Anchorage’s Fairview neighborhood now has a new tool to encourage development – a tax abatement incentive. The Assembly voted unanimously to approve the measure on Tuesday night.
Part of Fairview, including the area between Ingra and Gambell, is known as being deteriorated—the infrastructure is old and the buildings are falling apart. Chronic inebriates frequent the area.
“How it works is if a developer needs to put in public infrastructure as part of the project–a new waterline, sewer line, storm drains, roads, all of those things that are owned by the public–they would be able to write those off against their property taxes until it was paid off,” explained Fairview Business Association Project Manager Paul Fuhs. “After that they would pay full assessment on their property.”
To encourage developers to build high-density housing, the municipality will offer a full construction write-off.
Fuhs said the age and expense of replacing the current 50-year-old infrastructure deters investment in the area. This will fix that, and could change the neighborhood in other ways as well.
“We also hope that changing the architecture of the area and what’s there will change the way people behave. And right now, if it’s kind of skuzzy this is where people will hang out to drink and deal drugs and prostitution. So by changing the physical character of it, we’re going to change the real character of our neighborhood.”
Local business owner Heidi Heinrich glowed with happiness after hearing the Assembly pass the measure. “It’s so encouraging and leaves us so fulfilled to move on and do more.”
She said that includes solving the problem of chronic inebriates in the community.
The tax abatement plan was modeled on a similar project in Tacoma, Washington that led to increased multifamily housing and tax income to the city.
The municipality’s lawyer said it’s unclear if creating the tax abatement area in Fairview will set a precedent and necessitate that the Assembly give other deteriorated areas the same benefits.