Chicago Developer Gets Student Housing Tax Break

By: Andy Alcock
By: Andy Alcock

Balloons call attention to a "now leasing" sign.

Its one of several similar signs for a 15 year old Tallahassee based company called Phoenix South.

The company owns 5 apartment complexes with 325 beds right in between downtown Tallahassee and the FSU campus.

"For many years, we were at 100 percent occupancy," said Phoenix South owner Barbara Bumgarner. "In the last 4 or 5 years as all the new development has come in, it's hurt all the local businesse," she said.

The Community Redevelopment Agency or CRA voted to give a major tax break for a Chicago developer,C A Student Living, to build new apartments right across the street from the Phoenix South properties.

The terms of the deal put together in the last month call for C A Student Living to build a 583 bed complex.

In exchange, the company would be reimbursed 75 percent of its taxes of up to $1.6 million over roughly the next decade.

"We would not have been able to finance the deal and make this a reality without the help and support of the city and the CRA," said John Diedrich of C A Student Living.

The deal comes as 800 beds of tax subsidized student housing are being added to the nearby Collegetown area.

"I think it's a fair question about saturating the market," said CRA Chair Kristin Dozier. "However, I think we have to look at this as a new phase in student housing," she said. "We want students close to the campus," said Dozier who voted for the plan.

"We're paying our entire taxes and we're not getting any kind of discount," said Bumgarner.

The deal also comes with a pending proposal to spend millions of dollars in sales tax money in the nearby Civic Center area.

Construction on the new student housing complex is expected to begin in a couple weeks.

Bill Proctor was the only CRA member to vote against the deal.

He calls it "grossly unfair" to taxpayers in the area.

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