Local properties receiving tax breaks

Several properties in the Northeast could receive big tax breaks from a KOZ list recently approved by the city.

Several properties in the Northeast could receive big tax breaks from a KOZ list recently approved by the city.

City Council and the newly reconstituted Board of Education last week approved substantial tax breaks for a number of properties around the city, including several in Northeast Philadelphia.

The sites will be submitted to the state for entry into the Keystone Opportunity Zone Program, which waives or reduces various city and state taxes.

It was a somewhat controversial move. Education advocates argued that some of the properties did not need the tax breaks to be developed and were not in blighted neighborhoods.

The KOZ program is aimed at spurring investment and economic growth in underdeveloped and underutilized areas.

Donna Cooper, executive director of Public Citizens for Children & Youth, argued before the City Council vote that the legislation puts wealthy developers ahead of city services and the schools.

“We are about to give millionaires, 25 of them, 10 years tax-free,” she said.

Among the properties submitted by the city’s Commerce Department for KOZ designation were 5000 Summerdale Ave., 13000 McNulty Road., 2703 Black Lake Place and six vacant buildings at the Frankford Arsenal complex, 2275 Bridge St.

One of the more contentious inclusions on the list were the properties at the Frankford Arsenal campus.

During her testimony at City Hall, Cooper questioned whether the Arsenal, which includes Franklin Towne Charter School and several businesses, should qualify for the tax breaks.

Representatives from the Department of Commerce said the six buildings are currently vacant, and the KOZ designation would help fill empty areas in the complex by attracting commercial and light manufacturing tenants. The properties are zoned industrial mixed use.

The Summerdale Avenue site, which sits across the street from Houseman Playground, is owned by the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development. At nearly 20 acres, it is assessed at $4.4 million, according to a presentation from the commerce department. City officials said the land has sat vacant for more than 10 years and is being marketed for distribution, light manufacturing and other industrial uses.

PAID also owns 13000 McNulty Road and 2703 Black Lake Place, two vacant properties in the Byberry East Industrial Park.

Tenth District Councilman Brian O’Neill said the parcels have been marketed since the mid-1970s and are the last two areas of the industrial park that are undeveloped.

The KOZ list submitted by the city is awaiting state approval. ••

Jack Tomczuk can be reached at jtomczuk@newspapermediagroup.com