Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Apparently the State Nixed Lancaster and State Street for Opportunity Zones

You might recall back in January there were interesting questions about the way new the Federal Opportunity Zone program areas overlapped with our existing Enterprise and Urban Renewal Zones, and in the overlap omitted some of the areas in Salem with the most poverty and most need. This was puzzling.

Salem's four zones
Posted online, but not yet in print, the SJ has the start of a good discussion of some of the political maneuvering behind the decision.

via Twitter
It turns out the City suggested the State Street and Lancaster corridors, and the Governor's office went in a different direction in making final recommendations to the Feds. The City didn't protest very much, and for whatever combination of reasons, this counts as a missed opportunity.

One thing strangely missing from the piece is acknowledgment about the way the fragmented jurisdictions, some of the Lancaster corridor is City of Salem, some is unincorporated Marion County, may have complicated things. Surely this is a factor.

Still, relevant State officials declined to comment, and it remains murky why the Lancaster and State Street proposals were declined. It definitely seems like there is more to the story. Hopefully this will be an ongoing inquiry! Check it out.


Susann Kaltwasser said...

At the East Lancaster Neighborhood Association meeting tonight we discussed the issue of an "opportunity zone" along Lancaster or East Salem. There are benefits as well as hazards with such zones. While there are areas that might hold 'opportunities' we do not want to gentrify areas that many people call home and find housing that is affordable.

The mixture of boundaries is a problem what makes the viability of such a zone more difficult.

A suggestion was made that Councilor Hoy organize a joint meeting of all the city and county neighborhood associations in East Salem to begin a dialog. He agreed it would a great first step, so I hope it can happen soon.

We were told that the opportunity zone offer only came to the City with 2 weeks to respond. Since the Lancaster Area was most complex and without enough time to work the issue better it is understandable that it was not chosen. But hopefully we can create a vision for the area that might help us move forward and be ready for the next opportunity.

Anonymous said...

The discussion about the State designating areas in Salem that don't need additional tax incentives is interesting, and the entire opportunity zone program is also something worth following as it might lead to some new development in overlooked areas. But never forget, the tax incentives from opportunity zones only flow to those people that invest their capital gains. So unless you're investing newly-realized capital gains (180-day window to reinvest capital gains) you don't get any tax incentives. This entire opportunity zone program is as much about investors with existing capital gains shielding those gains.

Anonymous said...

The NY Times has a long piece, "How a Trump Tax Break to Help Poor Communities Became a Windfall for the Rich"