Investing in urban 'brownfields'.

Author:Caldwell, Michael L.
Position:Financial incentives to encourage private and public investment in urban properties

The state of Michigan now offers a whole package of financial incentives to encourage private and public investment in urban properties. The Brownfield Redevelopment Credit Package enacted by the Legislature in 2000 created new and improved incentives for brownfield investment, including:

* A broader definition of what constitutes a brownfield property for which local taxes can be captured under the Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act (BRFA). Previously, local communities could capture the increased property tax revenues generated by redeveloped properties to pay for site development expenses for contaminated properties. Now, these funds can also be used to redevelop "functionally obsolete" or "blighted" properties that are located within one of the 88 listed "qualified local governmental units" (basically, the state's urban communities). Within these communities, infrastructure improvements (streets, sidewalks, etc.), site preparation and lead and asbestos abatement can now be funded, in addition to costs directly related to contamination.

* Significantly enhanced benefits under the Single Business Tax Act. The amendments create a new brownfield credit, which offers much more flexibility than the old one. First, the credit cap is $1 million per project, not taxpayer, so a taxpayer can receive more than $1 million in tax credits. Second, partnerships, subchapter S corporations and LLCs can assign the credit to the individual principals or to long-term lessees. Finally, like the BRFA, obsolete/blighted parcels within urban centers are now eligible.

* The creation of new high-technology business credits that are not limited to traditional brownfield projects.

* Authorization for urban communities to establish obsolete property rehabilitation districts. Within these districts, buildings and improvements are eligible for exemption from ad valorem property taxes for up to 12 years.

These are just some of the incentives now available. While...

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