Discusses details of new pilot program’s fiscal impact
LANCASTER, PA – Local elected officials, business leaders and community organizers joined state Sen. Lloyd K. Smucker (R-13) at a press conference Wednesday morning as he detailed key parts of the City of Lancaster’s proposal for the CRIZ program.
The CRIZ, which stands for City Reinvestment and Improvement Zone, allows approved third class cities with populations greater than 30,000 to create investment zones where vacant, blighted or abandoned properties can be developed for commercial use.
Smucker, who authored the legislation, said the CRIZ is the perfect vehicle to improve the lives of city residents by fostering economic opportunities and creating jobs. He said Budget Secretary Charles Zogby, Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser, and Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Alan Walker represented the Corbett administration during the development of the program, and each department played a key role.
“Gov. Corbett recognizes the plight of our third class cities across the Commonwealth, and from the beginning saw the potential for this kind of program,” Smucker said. “He and his team helped push this measure past the finish line, and I thank them for their hard work. I especially appreciate the willingness of the Governor to support this plan and sign it into law.”
Cities like Lancaster will compete for a limited number of slots in the first phase of the pilot program, with other cities being added in annually. The DCED will evaluate the applications and award positions in the program based on a set of criteria expected later this year.
“Lancaster is poised to serve as a model for the CRIZ program,” Smucker said. “I have been working hand-in-hand with Mayor Rick Gray and others to ensure the City of Lancaster is well prepared when the application guidelines for the program are unveiled by the Department.”
At Wednesday’s press conference, held at the former barrel works facility at 811 North Prince Street in Lancaster, Smucker identified prospective areas to be included in Lancaster’s CRIZ application, as well as previously unaddressed aspects of the program that could translate into significant investment in downtown Lancaster. Specifically, Smucker noted that once approved by the DCED for inclusion in the program, cities will have the opportunity to set up authorities that can issue bonds for construction and rehabilitation of buildings or lots. Most state taxes within the CRIZ areas—during and after construction—will be transferred to a CRIZ Fund. The Revenue Department will make annual payments from the Fund to the municipal authority until the bonds are retired.
Smucker said authorities may borrow a baseline of up to $10 million from the Fund annually, which can then be leveraged to finance millions more for project development.
“The CRIZ provides cities with a results-driven tool aimed at kick starting local economies and reviving areas that have fallen into disrepair,” Smucker said. “I believe we will see a burst of development in the City of Lancaster and in similar downtown areas across Pennsylvania.”
Randy Patterson, Lancaster’s economic development and neighborhood revitalization director, spoke briefly and identified several priority sites the city may target should it be fortunate enough to be included in the CRIZ program:
- The Bulova Building and the east side of Lancaster Square
- The former Miguel’s Nightclub site at the corner of Chesapeake Street and South Duke Street, now known as Conestoga Plaza and owned by the SACA Development Company
- The former Miller Barrel Works site in the 800 block of North Prince Street
- The City of Lancaster also will be considering other vacant or underutilized properties in areas of the Central Business District. These include:
- The former Dillerville Rail Yard
- The Southern Market and neighboring Swan Hotel property (once the city vacates the Southern Market)
- The Manor Street commercial corridor
Other properties could be added over time to address specific development opportunities, Patterson said. If approved, he said, the city’s focus would be on properties that, through their development and revitalization, will have the greatest potential to generate new jobs and increase local and state tax revenue.
Follow Senator Lloyd Smucker on Twitter @SenatorSmucker
Contact: Matt Parido