For more information about the federal Renewal Communities program, call Maria Noel at 425-3776.
Anchor Glass remained vacant for more than 20 years before Marvin Smith bought the 13-acre industrial site in Alton Park and relocated his Chattanooga Labeling Systems there.
“We’ve taken it from being an eyesore to being productive property,” Mr. Smith said.
The former Lookout Valley businessman said he was motivated to move to the property because of the tax credits offered through Renewal Communities, a federal program that offers incentives to open businesses in designated areas.
These areas must have at least one full census tract with at least a 20 percent poverty rate and a high unemployment rate, local Renewal Communities manager Maria Noel said. Multiple tracts must be connected, she said.
Chattanooga Labeling Systems is among 52 commercial building projects and small businesses that have benefited from the Renewal Communities tax credit program, which is scheduled to end in December 2009 unless Congress renews it.
Program officials said legislation pending in Congress seeks to extend the program to 2015 and expand the communities that can be included.
Several communities between the Tennessee River and Missionary Ridge that have not been included, Ms. Noel said.
Ridgedale, Highland Park, St. Elmo, Glenwood, East Lake, Rossville, Brainerd and parts of the Amnicola Highway area have not been included, she said.
The goal of Renewal Communities is to create development in overlooked areas. Developers also get tax credit incentives by hiring people from the community to work, officials said.
“Not having it would take away the incentive for people to come into areas,” Mr. Smith said. “There’s a lot of property like this around town.”
There are at least 28 possible brownfield sites totaling more than 76 acres scattered throughout the Alton Park area alone, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2006 Brownfields Grant Fact Sheet.
Chattanooga developers and business people have saved $60 million in taxes since the Renewal Communities program started in 2002, Ms. Noel said. Another $12 million in tax credits will be awarded this year, she said, and another $12 million by December 2009.
Today is the deadline to apply for tax credits for 2008.
“If they’re not certain that they are eligible or that their project will qualify, call me,” Ms. Noel said. “This benefits a community. More importantly, it benefits (a developer’s) bottom line.”
Under the tax credit program, developer John Clark said he created the Bread Factory Lofts on Cowart Street.
“The best way to think about it is to think about how South Broad Street and Main Street looked 10 years ago,” he said.
There were many empty buildings that were a blight on the community, and blight brings crime, he said.
“Now if you ride down Broad (Street), you see that almost all buildings will be repurchased and remodeled,” Mr. Clark said.
Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...