MassDevelopment

Attleboro gets grant to boost development

July 18, 2019 : The Sun Chronicle, by George W. Rhodes


ATTLEBORO — The city’s been awarded a $30,000 grant from MassDevelopment, a quasi-public corporation run by the state to assist cities and towns with revitalization efforts.

It was one of 10 communities to receive a share of the $310,000 awarded this week.

Economic Development Director Catherine Feerick, who applied for the grant, said MassDevelopment will provide a team of experts to help the city define an area downtown that would become eligible to take part in the state’s District Improvement Financing program also known as a DIF.

It’s the first step in the development of a DIF program, she said.

Under the program the city would be able to use the increase in tax revenue generated from improved properties to make infrastructure improvements.

It could, for example, enhance its streetscape or even install a downtown wifi system, both of which then would create incentives for more private development, Feerick said.

“They are going to walk us through the formation of a district and where to put the revenue,” Feerick said. “It’s a way to incentivize future development. I’m excited for this.”

For example, if a building with a taxable value of $500,000 is improved to a taxable value of $1.5 million the city would be able to use the additional taxes generated by the renovations to make road improvements or build a parking structure to enhance the area.

Tax money generated on the original $500,000 value would go into the city budget as usual.

Coming improvements to the Union Street block could be eligible for the program if it’s decided to make that area part of a DIF district.

Conversion of the Foster Building at 37 Union alone is expected to be a $24 million project.

“I really hope we’ll get something really cool out of this,” Feerick said.