Providence Finance Committee considers tax deal for Federal Hill development

THE PROVIDENCE Finance Committee is considering a proposal for a 12-year tax stabilization agreement on a mixed-use project at the corner of Knight and Westminster streets in the Federal Hill neighborhood. / COURTESY PROVIDENCE PLANNING DEPARTMENT

PROVIDENCE – A proposal to give a prominent Providence developer a tax break on plans to renovate a long-vacant series of parking lots in Federal Hill is making its way through the City Council’s review.

The City Finance Committee held a public hearing on June 15 on the proposed 12-year tax stabilization agreement for 321 Knight Street LLC. The project from K&S Development calls for a five-story, mixed-use building at the corner of Knight and Westminster streets, including 34 market-rate apartments and ground floor retail, according to Nicholas Hemond, an attorney representing the developer.

Hemond billed the project as a much-needed facelift to a long-neglected but prominent area.

“It’s something people drive by every day,” he said.

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The three properties included in the development have long been vacant, consisting of two parking lots and an abandoned car repair shop.

The properties currently add $6,000 to city tax rolls each year, according to Hemond. Once the project, which has already received approvals from the City Plan Commission, is finished, it would generate about $160,000 in taxes per year, Hemond said.

Two local residents spoke against the tax deal in public comments, citing concerns with the project’s failure to address severe affordable-housing shortages and the implications of lost tax revenue in the face of a city pension crisis.

The proposed tax stabilization agreement shaves off a portion of those taxes in incrementally decreasing amounts for 12 years. If approved, the developer would be required to comply with city standards to include local, minority and women contractors, as well as more-stringent reporting requirements recently updated in city policies.

The City Finance Committee has not yet issued its recommendation on the proposal. It would also require full City Council approval.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Lavin@PBN.com.

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