EDITORIAL: If it’s working, keep doing it

EDITORIAL: If it’s working, keep doing it

Nothing succeeds like success, as they say — and it appears that the Meriden City Council is satisfied enough with the tax incentive zone it put in place along East Main Street in 2015 that it recently passed a similar program that encourages private investment in underutilized and vacant properties along West Main and Colony streets.

The council also voted to extend the East Main Street zone for another five years. The East Side plan helped bring a number of developments, including Taino Prime restaurant, ION Bank, and a new location for Huxley’s Bookmark Restaurant.

We look forward to seeing similar results from the new West Side program.

“This really draws the attention that I think we’ve been after for a very long time to the west side of town,” said Mayor Kevin Scarpati.

Like the East Main Street program, the West Side incentive zone will offer partial tax abatements on assessed value added, but will not abate the existing value of a property. The zone covers a large swath of commercial and manufacturing properties on West Main Street, from the Southington town line to the intersection of Colony Street; and on Colony Street, from the Berlin line down North Colony, Colony and South Colony streets to the Wallingford line.

Under the terms of the proposal, the city manager can negotiate a tax-abatement agreement with any party owning or proposing to purchase property. The abatements can last from two to seven years, depending on the value of the planned improvements.

City Planner Renata Bertotti said the new West Side program will also be offered to roughly 50 properties in the city’s Adaptive Reuse Overlay Zone, which was passed last year in an effort to incentivize redevelopment of old, abandoned commercial and manufacturing buildings throughout the city.

Taken together, what this tells us is that City Hall has a comprehensive, long-term plan to breathe new commercial life into parts of the city that can really use some revitalization, and bringing rundown buildings up to code seems like a necessary first step.

But that costs money, and through these programs the city is showing its willingness to invest in its future.

No one is predicting a return to the “old days,” when everyone took a bus to a thriving downtown to shop, pay bills, have lunch and go to the bank or the post office. Those days are gone.

However, by selectively applying some TLC to various parts of the city, Meriden’s leaders may be able to encourage significant new economic activity, as happened on the East Side.

That is what we’re hoping to see.

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