City Officials Devise Plan to Fill Store Fronts

One of the best things about Provo is the willingness of city officials to experiment with different improvement strategies. Case in point: a new plan would involve the city repairing empty downtown shops that deadbeat owners won’t fix:

Take a building that cannot be occupied until it is repaired. Add a landlord or building owner who has no intention of investing in a fix and offer to foot the bill for renovation. Clean the building up so it can been occupied by a renter, with the agreement that the renter pays half the rent to the owner and half to the city to repay the renovation.

That quote comes from an article by my colleague Genelle Pugmire, who also mentions that the building just west of Taylor Maid is on the list to be improved. Apparently, it will also take about 30 months for the city to recoup the investment, though I suspect that’s not taking into account the possibility of increased sales tax if a retailer comes into the space.

The city is planning to fix up one of these buildings in exchange for rent from a new tenant.

The article also states that officials have discussed the possibility of bringing in a “clothing store for younger shoppers.”

It remains to be seen if the strategy will work, but it sounds both plausible and proactive.

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3 Comments

Filed under Development, Downtown, economics

3 responses to “City Officials Devise Plan to Fill Store Fronts

  1. What happens with the increase in assessed value? Essentially, the property should be valued higher, thus higher taxes to be paid. Most problem property owners who have this don’t fix it attitude don’t want to pay more taxes regardless of rent. Granted the city is increasing the equity in the building for a property they don’t own.

    Our problem here is that many of the deadbeats use the depreciation of their buildings (which in turn kills the community) as tax write-offs. One city that I know of has actually purchased buildings outright and done an exchange for a percentage of sales revenues.

  2. Tana

    I don’t like how this program seem to reward these “dead beat” landlords. How do you think this program will make “good landlords” and business/property owners that have spent the money and made the effort to keep their properties well maintained for years and years? Seems to me if you start a program like this then you need to be equal and reward the “good” property owners. Then I hope you are considering the reasons why someone would let their property fall into disrepair. Could it be possible that taxes are too high? What about city zoning regulations? Are these things making it too cost prohibitive for a property owner to improve their properties? I’ve heard over and over of businesses complain of the difficulties facing business owners in Provo. I think that needs to be looked at before we start throwing money after to these bad property owners.

    • I agree that there are many issues that need to be addressed and this particular program is really an experiment, at least as I understand it. But in fairness having fewer vacancies downtown would be a huge boon to existing businesses. In fact I’d expect existing businesses to benefit the most from a program like this. Another challenge is that not all existing businesses own their buildings; how does the city renovate a space that is already in use? It’s tricky. Though of course the city did actually start with existing businesses with the recent successful facade grants. So the so-called good landlords actually got first dibs on city money (and they don’t have to pay it back). And as far as taxes, I’m skeptical that that’s the issue. Property taxes are always high on commercial space; the problem is the city infrastructure (ie sprawl) discourages use of downtown

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