Tax break for Bethlehem new development and renovation

September 12, 2017 by  

In a recent announcement, Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez said that the old Dempsey’s restaurant site and the once-lavish Wilbur Mansion were prime candidates for the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone tax incentive program (CRIZ).

The once popular Dempsey’s restaurant near Westgate Mall has been closed for 12 years. A proposed 8,500-square-foot structure with a mix of tenants, including professional offices and retailers, would take its place.

The Civil War-era Wilbur Mansion, located at the Hill-to-Hill Bridge’s south end, would be renovated into office space and the rundown old Masonic Temple next to it torn down to make way for a new office building.

CRIZ, enables investors to use specific taxes, both city and state, which a development generates, to repay construction loans. In the case of these proposed projects, CRIZ would spur on two highly visible developments that would turn long vacant properties into assets worth up to $6m.

Before the projects can get underway the Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority must give its approval, as will some state agencies. Part of the approval process will likely include reproductions of architectural renderings supplied by a local print company.

It is anticipated that, with the CRIZ incentive, competing against Allentown for tenants to fill these completed projects will be possible. This is despite Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone, which offers even stronger incentives.

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