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August 29, 2012

Firm won't seek tax break

Construction company, mayor concerned about perception of favoritism

BEVERLY — Windover Construction has withdrawn its pursuit of a tax break from the city, saying the perception that the company was getting a special deal threatened to derail the larger plan to improve the area.

Windover was in line to receive a tax break under a state program that would create an “urban center” on Rantoul Street where developers would be offered tax incentives. The City Council is considering the proposal and is scheduled to resume its public hearing on the matter on Tuesday.

Windover President Lee Dellicker said the company was concerned that the council would reject the program due to a public perception that Windover was getting special treatment.

“We recognize that this has a far-reaching economic development impact, and we really didn’t want this to fail as a result of people being focused on this project and Windover,” Dellicker said.

Dellicker said the company still plans to go ahead with its project without the tax break. The $8.5 million plan calls for a four-story building with 45 apartments at the site of the former Enterprise car rental business at 79 Rantoul St.

Mayor Bill Scanlon said he agrees with Windover’s decision to forgo the tax break. He said he did not want to be put in the position of negotiating a deal with Windover and being accused of favoritism.

Scanlon said he wants the City Council to create a formula that would establish the same tax break for any developer who chooses to build in that area of Rantoul Street.

“I don’t want to be playing God here and be accused of favoritism and offering different deals to different people,” Scanlon said. “I’d like there to be one arrangement.”

The program under consideration by the City Council is called the Urban Center Housing Tax Increment Financing Zone. It was created under a municipal relief bill signed into law by then-Gov. Mitt Romney in 2003. Its intent is to encourage residential development and affordable housing in distressed downtown areas by offering tax incentives to developers.

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