Reviving Cities with Tax Abatement

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Rutgers University, Center for Urban Policy Research, 1980 - Property tax credit - 152 pages

Public agencies and private redevelopers have been urban renewal partners for over sixty years. While federally subsidized urban renewal initially delegated a major role to the public agencies, this program gave way to strategies in which the private sector has been dominant. Nowhere is privately sponsored urban renewal more successful than in Missouri, where constitutional authority for private, tax-abated redevelopment has stimulated large-scale downtown reinvestment in St. Louis and Kansas City.

Downtown areas have been an especially severe renewal problem, as population and employment transfers to the suburbs left many downtowns facing an uncertain future. Downtown retailing has declined, new construction came to a standstill, and buildings were demolished but not replaced. Subsidy programs poured millions into downtown renewal, often with little success. The Missouri experience deserves close analysis as a successful downtown renewal program in which the public role is minimized and a novel tax abatement subsidy provides the renewal incentive.

The downtown St. Louis tax-abated urban redevelopment program is the subject of the study presented in this book. Part 1 introduces the program, outlines its major provisions, and details its history in St. Louis. Part 2 evaluates the effectiveness of the program, applies a cost-revenue analysis to measure its net benefit to the city, and considers equity issues raised by the tax abatement feature. The final portion of this book considers the major legal issues that have been litigated in Missouri appellate court decisions. A conclusion provides commentary on tax-abated private redevelopment as an acceptable redevelopment technique.

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About the author (1980)

Daniel R. Mandelker is Howard A. Stamper Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis Law School.

Gary H. Feder is a practicing attorney in St. Louis, Missouri associated with the firm of HuschBlackwell.

Margaret P. Collins served as a consultant to the City of St. Louis where she conducted evaluations of the city's tax abatement program. Currently she is director at Cambridge Economic Research.

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