Hamilton County Commission agenda session -- Sept. 25, 2008
Hamilton County Commission recessed meeting -- Sept. 25, 2008
Hamilton County commissioners are expected to vote Wednesday whether to approve a 15-year property tax abatement for a new downtown Chattanooga movie theater, but several commissioners questioned the deal.
“Any time we do a tax abatement, we tell the other residents of our county that they’re going to have to pay those taxes,” Commissioner John Allen Brooks said. “It’s favoritism.”
He said a new Carmike movie theater in Chattanooga is “a great idea,” but he isn’t convinced it deserves a 15-year tax break. Voting for a project “whose half-life isn’t much more than 15 years” would be difficult, he said.
At Thursday’s commission meeting, former Chattanooga Mayor Jon Kinsey and Paul Brock, president of RiverCity Co., the downtown nonprofit redevelopment group, fielded questions about the project.
The theater is the first step in a $12 million plan to redevelop the block at Broad and Third streets where a parking lot now sits, Mr. Brock said. The new 12-screen theater would replace the nearby Bijou Theater, also owned by Carmike.
Under the proposed tax break, the theater owners would continue to pay school taxes, Mr. Brock said.
Commissioner Richard Casavant said the new theater would drive up retail and restaurant business and employment.
Commissioner Greg Beck, who said he often goes to the Bijou, wondered whether patrons of the new theater still would be able to park for free at the nearby parking garage.
“That’s a question we’re going to continue to work with Carmike on,” Mr. Brock said.