Dor­mi­tory de­vel­oper get­ting a tax break

Connecticut Post - - NEWS - By Jean Falbo-Sos­novich

DERBY — The owner who trans­formed the for­mer Mar­shall Lane Manor nurs­ing home into a dor­mi­tory hous­ing in­ter­na­tional high school stu­dents and pumped more than $1.5 mil­lion into the makeover, will re­ceive a nearly $50,000 tax break over the next three years.

The Board of Al­der­men on Thurs­day voted 7-2 in fa­vor of giv­ing David Guer­rera, founder of APEX In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Part­ners, or AIEP, the city’s first tax break since a new tax in­cen­tive pro­gram was im­ple­mented in Oc­to­ber.

Al­der­men Bar­bara DeGen­naro and Thomas Donofrio cast the dis­sent­ing votes.

Guer­rera re­ceived ap­proval in De­cem­ber 2017 from the Plan­ning and Zon­ing Com­mis­sion to con­vert the va­cant for­mer nurs­ing home at 101 Mar­shall Lane into a dor­mi­tory to house up to 110 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, who at­tend pri­vate schools through­out the state in prep- ara­tion to at­tend Amer­i­can col­leges and univer­si­ties.

Guer­rera has since put $1.5 mil­lion into the ren­o­va­tion of the 35,000-square­foot build­ing, and plans to in­vest an­other $500,000 to fin­ish the makeover, ac­cord­ing to Car­men DiCenso, the city’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment li­ai­son, who served as chair­man of the tax in­cen­tive com­mit­tee.

The project qual­i­fied for a tax in­cen­tive un­der the adap­tive re­use of a prop­erty, which en­ables a three-year tax abate­ment to a de­vel­oper who in­vests $500,000 or more into im­prov­ing an ex­ist­ing prop­erty. Guer­rera will re­ceive a to­tal of $47,732 off his taxes over the next three years.

DiCenso said the prop­erty pre­vi­ously gen­er­ated $21,000 per year in taxes as a nurs­ing home, but now is gen­er­at­ing nearly $80,000 a year for the city’s tax rolls with the im­prove­ments made by Guer­rera. Even with the tax break, the prop­erty still will gen­er­ate some $65,000 per year. And DiCenso said with Guer­rera on track to make an­other $500,000 in im­prove­ments, the prop­erty will con­tinue to gen­er­ate even more taxes.

“He (Guer­rera) took a di­lap­i­dated build­ing and put $1.5 mil­lion into it. ... I wel­come peo­ple like this to come to Derby and give them a tax break for in­vest­ing in our city,” DiCenso said.

Derby has never had a tax in­cen­tive pro­gram, but a com­mit­tee was formed last year to cre­ate an or­di­nance to help the city grow its Grand List and en­tice new busi­nesses to come here and en­cour­age ex­ist­ing ones to ex­pand.

While the ma­jor­ity of the al­der­men had no is­sue grant­ing Guer­rera a tax break, DeGen­naro ques­tioned whether the prop­erty qual­i­fied be­cause the or­di­nance was just ap­proved last Oc­to­ber, yet Guer­rera’s project was ap­proved in De­cem­ber 2017. She ques­tioned whether the break should be granted “retroac­tively,” as she said the or­di­nance says it can­not, and if the prop­erty fell un­der an adap­tive re­use, since the or­di­nance states the prop­erty must boost some his­toric or ar­chi­tec­tural sig­nif­i­cance.

The city’s at­tor­ney said the al­der­men have some “dis­cre­tion” with the lan­guage in the or­di­nance, and sug­gested if there are is­sues, the al­der­men can tweak it and re­move some of the lan­guage re­gard­ing the his­toric or ar­chitec- tu­ral as­pects.

Al­der­manic Pres­i­dent Char­lie Samp­son said the in­tent of the adap­tive re­use was to “have peo­ple take an ex­ist­ing build­ing and in­vest in it,” and “not nec­es­sar­ily” be a build­ing of his­toric sig­nif­i­cance.

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