Thursday, March 02, 2006

An Agreement With Cajones

The city awarded Massa Construction the development agreement for the South Exchange Street property. This was a suprise because the newspaper reported in two different articles that the mayor said no decision would be made at the March meeting. But, in a surprising twist, council passed an agreement and it actually came with restrictions. First, it was required that the first floor of the building be residential. There was an allowance for a limited commercial venture that would support the general operation of the building, but any retail space or office space was taken out. That's good because there is a lot of vacant store frontage downtown and we don't need to add to that. Also, it can't be good financially for the developer to keep possibly-empty storefront space instead of sure-t0-sell residential.

The other stipulation is that the units be called 'townhouses' and not 'condos.' That doesn't effect the design, but it does effect the taxes. If a unit is a townhouse, then the purchaser owns it and pays taxes for their individual unit. If it is a condo, then the building is taxed as a whole and the owners share the cost through their management agreement. Since a building's assessment is a lot less than the sum of its individual unit assessments, that's a lot more money for the city and a big relief on the tax rate for homeowners.

The council unanimously approved an agreement that benefits the city instead of just the developer, and that's a nice change! Did I mention that there's no tax abatement either? It's a great day for Geneva!