Property owners, city seek consistency with tax deals

Claude Goldstein owns a six-unit building in Fox Point, but he says the tax rates are forcing him sell it.

He said he has to compete with downtown developments that are getting tax breaks and that it's putting him out of business.

"I have a sign in the window. I have two vacancies right now. Not only are the taxes through the roof, but I'm lowering my rents. I have empty apartments. I didn't even pay my mortgage this month," Goldstein said.

Goldstein said the taxes on the East Side property are about $21,000. Compare that to the Alice Building in downtown Providence. The building has 36 units upstairs and retail space on the ground level. The tax bill is $13,400.

Arnold "Buff" Chace is the principal in Cornish Associates, which owns the Alice Building and others on Westminster Street. He said the tax stabilization agreements, or TSAs, that the city granted him have allowed the neighborhood to come to life.

He said it's good for everyone in Providence.

"What we're doing is creating an amenity for Providence. This is all about creating economic activity down here, which will providence jobs, which will retain our young people in Providence -- all things that will accrue to the benefit of that property owner that you suggested on the East Side," Chace said.

And even after one five-year extension on his 10-year tax deal, Chace said he needs another five years of discount taxes to continue his effort.

Some city councilors are determined to make the process more consistent.

"Tonight we have this on the agenda. What are we going to do with the ones that are coming after?" said Sabina Matos, who represents Ward 15.

Matos wants the program standardized. So does Chace.

"I think anything we can do to regularize the process would be a very positive development, so I would support that," Chace said.

And with some certainty about their tax rates, more developers might come into town.

But small landlords still are looking for relief.