Mayor aims to bolster city’s economy

Taveras proposed plans to freeze commercial real estate taxes and revitalize Kennedy Plaza

Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mayor Angel Taveras proposed a plan at a press conference Wednesday to strengthen the city’s economy by attracting and retaining new business developers.

The 20-step plan is organized through five key courses of action, which Taveras said are all effective immediately. The plan outlines measures to “freeze the commercial tax rates,” “fix the city’s permitting process,” “remove barriers to development,” “develop surface lots citywide” and “reinvent Kennedy Plaza.”

“This action plan presents a road map to a new era of opportunity and prosperity for Providence,” said James Bennett ’79, the city’s director of economic development, in a statement. “I am excited to work with my team to implement these actions and accelerate economic growth in our city.”

Under the plan, the Taveras administration will pursue a seven-year freeze on commercial real estate taxes intended to boost business investment in Providence by providing prospective developers a sense of “consistency and stability” in their investments, Taveras said at a press conference.

Taveras’ second initiative attempts to expedite the application process for small business permits by improving accessibility. The city will enable online submissions and institute a system of status updates to streamline the application process, according to the plan. Small business permits comprise 75 percent of all city permit applications, according to a Providence Business News report.

The city will take inventory of potential sites for demolition — as well as any buildings that require infrastructure improvements — and embark on renovations to stimulate redevelopment and open property for new businesses. City officials will take historical significance into consideration when evaluating buildings, according to the plan.

Taveras also intends to provide incentives for the revitalization of city parking lots in order to stimulate development and “ease the crunch on parking,” he said at the press conference. New developers will not have to pay real estate taxes for the first three years of owning their lots. The plan states that developers will instead be allowed to spread payments of the owed taxes over the subsequent nine years.

Taveras also announced his hope to revitalize Kennedy Plaza. The project would relocate Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority  buses and transform the square into a more “pedestrian destination for all Rhode Islanders” in an attempt to attract more visitors to downtown Providence, according to the plan.

The city has a central role in enacting solutions to statewide economic conditions, Taveras said at the press conference.

“It is time to get cranes in the air and put people to work rebuilding our city,” he added.

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