I work at an accounting and tax firm in the middle of the city. And I think the one with the best growth potential is where I work. And that’s because it has lots of young people and it doesn’t have that big of a tax base.”
On whether an expansion of development would hurt those people in the area, Mascarella said: “Well it’s good, at all, to have growth because that’s an opportunity to have businesses start up, but it will also make people unhappy. People are going to move away, people who are unhappy. So the best move is to keep the city growing.”
He said some companies have been looking to relocate to the neighborhood, but he believes the downtown area will attract them anyway: “You go anywhere in a big city and people look for a place to live and businesses that are up and are healthy, like Starbucks, look at you.”
Carr said he believes the city has a responsibility to continue to expand the city’s tax base by having high-level development on main streets. That’s the city’s goal, he said.
“The reason we got tax increment financing in the first place was because we were shortchanging the people who were paying taxes,” he said. “There is a time, and I think time is now, for us to get into these high-density residential and commercial areas of the city, and I don’t think that will hurt businesses that pay taxes.”
Carr echoed his colleague’s assessment that the city has a responsibility to continue to expand the city’s tax base, saying that the area has a lot of empty space.
“That’s what happened under Mayor Lee,” he said, referring to the mayor’s decision to scale back the city’s downtown tax increment financing program in order to pay for public transit construction and the like. “We didn’t build the schools or the housing we needed, and we lost the downtown business that we wanted. …
“I don’t see any reason to think that that’s reversible,” he said. “When you get to the suburbs, you get to get to the office parks, then you have a better chance of attracting people to the district or the area.”
Lee’s former chief of staff, former city manager and current City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer suggested that there are things the city could do to make downtown more attractive. He called for creating a downtown revitalization district within the city limits, for instance, which could provide incentives and
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