City Council on Wednesday took an initial step in preparing Altoona to participate in a lucrative development program initiated in Allentown as a revitalization tool.
It was the introduction of an ordinance to create a city "general authority," which could be used to handle the city's potential participation in the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone program. CRIZ would allow a limited number of cities to establish areas of up to 130 acres where developers or the local authority that oversees each municipal program can build or rehabilitate facilities for tenants whose state and local taxes are then redirected for as long as 30 years to pay down construction debt.
"Vacant, desolate, underutilized or abandoned space will be developed, thereby creating jobs, increasing personal incomes, growing state and local tax revenues, reviving local economies and improving the lives of city residents and visitors," according to state program guidelines, published last fall.
While passed in July, changes are coming in the program to enable cities to take advantage of it sooner.
Unless the city is prepared by having the authority ready, it could lose out to another city, Councilman Bruce Kelley said.
"The trick to receive the designation is you need to be ready," Kelley said.
The authority would designate the CRIZ area, officials said.
The city plans to decide whom to appoint at a planning meeting Sept. 8, then adopt the ordinance to create the authority at
its regular meeting on Oct. 8.
Provisions in the law prevent anyone with a conflict of interest from serving on the authority, solicitor Larry Clapper said.
CRIZ could be a "transformational" program for Altoona, state Sen. John
H. Eichelberger Jr. has said.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.