Downtown Revitalization eyes tax incentives to help diversify Charlotte Amalie's economy


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ST. THOMAS - In discussing plans to redo the economic make-up of downtown Charlotte Amalie in the future, residents and members of Downtown Revitalization Inc. discussed a broad spectrum of tax incentives Thursday evening.

The focus of the organization's first meeting of the year, held at the University of the Virgin Islands Conference Center, was what kind of commercial and residential components should make up the downtown.

"You have to meet the community's needs," said George Blackhall, who spoke at the meeting about his experience in turning around commercial properties.

Local leaders reviewed tax incentives available through the federal and territorial governments, some of which are designed to enable investors to receive paybacks for their overhead costs, including property taxes and Gross Receipts taxes, expenditures on materials and expenses for labor.

"The incentives are ready," said Nadine Marchena, director of the Economic Enterprise Zone Commission of the V.I. Economic Development Authority.

Incentives currently available already have been taken advantage of on St. Croix, where the Enterprise Zone Commission has been working to revitalize neighborhoods in Christensted, and also on St. Thomas, in the Garden Street area.

Marchena said additional incentives have been proposed to the V.I. Legislature.

Other incentives can be acquired through the Department of Planning and Natural Resources's St. Thomas Historic Preservation Office.

Sean Krigger, acting director of the State Historic Preservation Office, said that homes do not necessarily have to be designated as historic landmarks to take advantage of tax credits.

Many buildings will meet the requirements of certain incentives through DPNR, and also those of the National Historic Trust, according to Krigger. Those that meet both sets of requirements can take advantage of both sets of incentives, he said.

The group also discussed what the community could do to better prepare itself for its investment in the revitalization process.

Some community members noted that before people would open more businesses and residencies downtown, the area would need to be cleaned up and made safer.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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