The Tucson City Council voted to renew the Central Business District for an additional 10 years Tuesday, but opted to delay expansion discussions as community members continue to express their concerns.
The Central Business District was first adopted by the council in 2012 as a way to boost economic development within the city through financial incentives. Businesses located within the designated district are eligible to apply for up to eight years of property tax abatement, which is called a Government Property Lease Excise Tax, or GPLET.
After a proposal was made to expand the central business district earlier this year, many community members and neighborhood associations scrutinized the incentive process, saying it contributes to the gentrification of historic neighborhoods, the displacement of residents and doesn’t hold developers accountable.
The current central business district encompasses downtown Tucson and its surroundings, West Saint Marys Road, North Stone Avenue, North Oracle Road and West Grant Road. These are areas that have been defined by the city as “slum areas.”
“Many of these projects have brought about gentrification and displacement in the neighborhoods and barrios surrounding downtown,” said Karen Greene, a founding member of the Barrio Neighborhood Coalition, while addressing the council Tuesday. “This topic is of enough concern that you recreated the commission on equitable housing development, with a focus on preventing displacement. Why would it be a good idea to continue doing this kind of thing and how can you still call these areas blighted?”