Greenville has new tool in push for affordable housing

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The South Carolina Bailey Bill authorizes local governments to offer a special property tax assessment for rehabilitation of historic properties and low- and moderate-income rental properties. Will Crooks/Greenville Journal

Greenville has a new tool in its push for construction of new and preservation of existing affordable housing units.

The South Carolina Bailey Bill authorizes local governments to offer a special property tax assessment for rehabilitation of historic properties and low- and moderate-income rental properties. The city had already had an ordinance that allowed for the rehabilitated historic property special assessment, and it passed the low- to moderate-income rental provision last month.

“Because land appropriate for residential development within the city is limited, it is essential that the city implement tools that will encourage the rehabilitation of housing units that are affordable to residents and working people with low to moderate incomes,” the ordinance said.

Under the ordinance, properties can qualify for the special assessment in two ways — by providing Section 8 housing or, if it is producing low- to moderate-income housing, the cost of rehabilitation exceeds the appraised value of the property.

The special assessment is good for 10 years. The Greenville City Council can extend that to up to 20 years if the rehabilitation is extensive in scale and scope, and if the city determines the longer tax freeze will “foster the economic viability of the surrounding community and is in the best interest of the city.”

The first project expected to take advantage of the tax break is the Greenville Summit, a 101-unit apartment building serving low-income seniors and the disabled at the corner of West Washington and River streets. The owners are expected to spend $1.5 million.

Ginny Stroud, the city’s community development coordinator, said the owners of two other low- to moderate-income apartment buildings could take advantage of the new property tax assessment. The owners of Stratham Place are reviewing the adopted ordinance now to determine whether it would benefit their rehabilitation project, Stroud said. The city plans to discuss the new tax break with the new owners of Towers East on North Main Street as well, she said.

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