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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage officials have proposed giving 12-year property tax breaks to developers who build housing in the city’s downtown area.

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s administration unveiled the proposed ordinance earlier this month, offering the tax break for new developments or redevelopments that add at least four units of housing, the Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday.

The city wants to boost apartment and mixed-use projects that could inject fresh energy into the central business district, said Chris Schutte, the city’s community and economic development director. Downtown has few housing options, and projects currently in the works would add fewer than 100 new units, he said.

Developers have cited the costs of land and construction in downtown as making housing too expensive to build.

Downtown also lacks certain amenities supporting housing, such as a grocery store or pharmacy. But people want to live in the city’s core and more housing could bring those amenities, Schutte said.

Under the measure, developers would apply for tax breaks before starting construction. They would not go into effect until developments are completed and certified. If a development includes a commercial side, the tax break would only apply to housing part.

Developer Nick Mystrom bought an empty downtown lot about two years ago, planning to construct an eight-story luxury apartment building. The project hasn’t moved forward because it doesn’t make financial sense yet, he said.

“I’m bullish on the Anchorage market, but no developer really wants to be the first guy into any given market,” Mystrom said.

The tax break would make the project more likely to proceed, Mystrom said.

The assembly is scheduled to debate the measure next month.


Information from: Anchorage Daily News,