May. 13, 2015

HARRISBURG – The state House of Representatives today unanimously approved the first legislative measure introduced by Rep. Judy Ward (R-Blair) since taking office. House Bill 613 seeks to revitalize areas where abandoned or blighted properties are located in order to increase property values and make these communities more desirable places to live and locate a business.

House Bill 613 would create the Tax Exemption and Mixed-Use Incentive Program, which would allow for tax exemption incentives for developers that improve certain deteriorated areas, with a special emphasis on promoting mixed-use housing and development.

“Mixed-use properties are a growing trend that combine both businesses and residential housing in one central location,” said Ward. “For example, a few streets in a designated area would have businesses, such as a hair salon, café, dry cleaner and chiropractor, located on the first floor of several properties with apartments or condos on the second or third floors. As these types of combination spaces grow, we then can start to develop small walkable communities where people can live, work and shop with a mile or so of their home.”

House Bill 613 is specifically aimed at providing an added incentive to those who are willing to take on the task of rebuilding in deteriorated areas of the community or where abandoned or blighted properties currently sit. As Ward stated, “It only takes one property to bring down the housing values of an entire street if it is left to ruin.”

The incentive program is broken down into yearly increments of tax abatements. Once the 10-year mark is hit, the property is assessed and taxed for its full value including increased property value. To ensure that future purchasers are prepared to pay the full tax rate once the 10 years are up, developers must submit a “good-faith” estimate when they apply to improve a property. This will make consumers aware of what they will be paying in future years, all the while allowing developers to estimate and organize their own expenses for improvements.

Ward also noted that under her bill properties must fulfill specific requirements, such as being a “deteriorated property,” correcting all code violations, conforming to zoning requirements and increasing the property value by at least 25 percent. In addition, if zoning ordinances permit mixed-use development, developers must improve and rebuild properties that align with mixed-use zoning.

House Bill 613 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Representative Judy Ward
80th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman
717.772.9840 /