FALL RIVER — City officials voted Thursday to approve a combined $830,000 worth of tax breaks for two local developers in exchange for the construction of 67 new units of housing and a new bank branch.
Fall River’s Tax Increment Financing Board approved two deals during its Thursday meeting. One will save Anthony Cordeiro’s Downtown Development Cos. $86,940 over 10 years during the renovation of the Benjamin Nathan building. The other will save developer Robert Karam and his company BCBBK LLC $747,667 over 10 years during the construction of a new mixed-use building on Davol Street.
Both tax breaks were approved unanimously by TIF Board members, with little discussion and few questions from board members.
Each agreement is based on the increased value each property will have following Cordeiro’s and Karam’s investments into them. Though rising values would normally mean each developer would be responsible for paying higher property taxes for each project, the agreements approved Thursday mean Cordeiro and Karam will only pay taxes slightly above each property’s increased value.
In both cases, the first five years would see each project 80% exempt from the increases on property taxes. That exemption would then fall to 20% for the remaining five years of the agreement.
As an example, Downtown Development Cos. would normally be expected to annually pay about $21,700 in property taxes between 2021 and 2025 for the Benjamin Nathan building. Through the deal executed Thursday, the company will now only have to pay a little more than $4,000 during each of those five years. The savings would then drop in the final five years when the exemption falls from 80% to 20%.
Both projects were heralded by their backers, as well as Bristol County Economic Development Consultants Executive Vice President Ken Fiola, who consulted on both, as positive additions to the city’s downtown and waterfront areas.
This was the second time Cordeiro had gone before the board in recent months. Cordeiro had been approved for a different tax break in April, but a new replacement agreement was drawn up when his project started to expand.
Cordeiro had originally planned to build 12 units of housing at a cost of roughly $2.2 million. Now he’s making 18 units at a cost of $5.5 million. As a result, Cordeiro’s savings in property taxes jumps by a little less than $30,000.
“We have a huge waiting list for young millennials to come in and bring the downtown to a place where people can not only live but they can play and enjoy life,” Cordeiro told the board.
According to Downtown Development’s agreement, 16 of the 18 proposed units would be offered at market rate.
Karam’s project marks an entirely new construction on Davol Street. The proposed 57,000-square-foot building would feature the offices of a new BayCoast Bank branch on its first floor and 49 units of housing on the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth floors. Of those 49 units, 40 are expected to be market rate.
Karam told board members that the project is expected to largely attract millennial tenants and residents commuting to Boston. He also noted that he intends for the project to fit in with other recent developments along Fall River’s waterfront.
“We want to follow suit with other local developers and do a good job with that one,” he said.
Fiola compared the recent work on Commonwealth Landing and The Cove Restaurant and Marina to Karam’s proposed building.
“This project, I think, not only complements the projects that have come before, but I think it sets a new standard for the waterfront,” he said.
In both cases, applicants stressed that neither project would be able to move forward without the TIF Board’s help. Downtown Development Cos.’s application notes, “without an HDIP tax credit, the project we envision will not be financially feasible,” while Karam told board members, “We obviously need your help.”