published Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Chattanooga: $12 million tax breaks fuel city projects

RENEWAL COMMUNITY PROJECTS

2008 recipients

* Metropolitan Main — Main Street renovation

* H&H Brown Inc. — Polk Street industrial renovation/construction

* 720 Partners — former Hamilton Hotel renovation

* Vision Chestnut Hotel Group — Doubletree Hotel

* Elite Hotels Group — Holiday Inn Express

* Scannell Properties — FedEx distribution center

* Alton Park LLC — industrial renovation/construction

* Northwest Georgia Bank — new North Shore branch

* Warehouse Properties — Workman Road warehousing

* Office Coordinators Inc. — East Main Street warehousing

* SunTrust Bank — North Shore branch

2009 Commitments

* Structure Group Inc. — East Main Street renovation

* The Clearstory — Main Street mixed use

* Beltline at Howell Mill — Riverfront Parkway renovation

About $12 million in tax deductions were awarded to fuel nearly a dozen Chattanooga economic development projects last year, but 2009 could be the final one for the federal breaks.

“Right now, as of today, we’ve got projects for this year and that’s it,” said Maria Noel, who manages the Renewal Community Program for Chattanooga’s Enterprise Center. “We’re trying to get it extended.”

She said the projects range from creating new housing to downtown hotels to added warehousing. All the projects sit in the RC zone, which stretches from the North Shore to Alton Park.

Under the federal program, businesses in the zone can apply for commercial revitalization tax deductions and federal tax relief for employing eligible workers and purchasing equipment. The zone was set up in 2002.

Charles Whitener, whose renovation of a former Combustion Engineering building at Riverfront Parkway and Main Street won a binding commitment for $2 million in deductions this year, lauded the program.

“It’s not helpful immediately but when you go down the road, it helps shelter rental income,” Mr. Whitener said.

Mr. Whitener said his $6 million project is expected to be finished this year. He said he has tenants for about 30 percent of the space, but expects to fill it with 300 to 400 jobs when full.

Ms. Noel said there were 22 applicants with about $32 million in requests in 2008.

“The applicants that did not receive anything still have a high probability of receiving an allocation in 2009 if the project is successful,” she said.

Ms. Noel said officials were trying to get the RC program into the federal stimulus package and extend it for several more years.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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