Crane over property with skyline in background

Photo by Ohio Redevelopment Projects
Creative Commons license
Slightly cropped

Joe Motil, former Columbus City Council candidate and longtime outspoken critic of City Hall’s tax abatement policies, testified at this evenings Columbus City Council meeting against the creation of the Grandview Crossing Community Reinvestment Area (CRA). The creation of a Grandview Crossing CRA will more than double the amount of property eligible for this 15-year 100% real property tax abatement. Just 3 months ago, Thrive Companies (previously known as Wagenbrenner Development) was given a $4.2 million 10-year 75% property tax abatement for their Grandview Crossing development.          

Motil states that, “At a time when people are struggling to survive, the mayor must be  out of his mind for making such a proposal at this time, and anyone who supports this CRA is displaying a total lack of sensitivity and neglect to the  overall needs of this community, by giving away millions of dollars of crucial property tax revenues. This is shameful. The Mayor and this City Council are acting as if nothing has happened over the last two and half months and it is business as usual here at City Hall. It appears that they view property tax revenues as “non-essential” to the needs of Columbus citizens.”   

Motil further claims that, “Columbus Public Schools will be losing an additional $9.2 million of state funding. Yet the mayor and this City Council continue to recklessly slash much needed revenue that serves the needs of the city’s most vulnerable, by trading tax abatements for campaign contributions.” 

Motil says that, “As the second most economically segregated city in America, whose citizens pay the fourth highest overall taxes in the U.S., and with a 30% foreclosure rate in Franklin County due to folks not being able to pay escalating property taxes, you are going to continue giving away property taxes in risk free development areas of Columbus, and then try to claim that by doing so, these tax abatements are some kind of tradeoff that helps to address our affordable housing crisis.” The Grandview Crossing project will create and set aside just over 200m workforce housing units for those making an annual income of about $47,000 - $60,000. “I don’t see how either of these projects helps to address our segregated housing problem in Columbus when the average annual income for black and brown people is roughly $37,500.”    

Motil conclude that, “Creating a Grandview Crossing CRA within the boundaries you have defined is ludicrous. Claiming this area is distressed and developers need property tax abatement relief to bring economic stability to this area couldn’t be further from the truth. The Grandview CRA is prime real estate that is adjacent to the affluent suburb of Grandview Heights. The eastern boundary of the CRA is 1.5 miles from Broad and High, the ongoing gentrified neighborhood of Franklinton is about one mile away, and the new Confluence Village/Crew Stadium project is within sniffing distance. Development will continue to occur without tax incentives in this area. It is irresponsible to continue this fiscal-death tax abatement policy that impairs the social and economic livelihoods of Columbus citizens, especially during the struggling financial times created by COVID-19.”