The Bond Buyer announced today (November 4th) that one of the co-winners of its Deal of the Year award for the Northeast Region was the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority (ANIZDA), according to Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne.
The ANIZDA was awarded this distinction for the tax revenue bonds it issued to help finance the first-of-its-kind redevelopment project in Allentown – the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ).
The NIZ legislation created a 130-acre zone that allows all taxes – except for property taxes – generated within the zone to be reinvested in the zone to finance redevelopment.
“I am pleased that this award recognizes both the uniqueness and success of this one-of-a-kind reinvestment strategy as well as the many partners, including the City of Allentown and Public Financial Management (PFM), whose officials spent countless hours working to perfect a plan to help one of the state’s most struggling cities,” said Senator Browne, who authored the legislation that created the NIZ.
“With the help of my colleagues in Harrisburg and the priority they gave to this idea, the NIZ was signed into law in 2009. From there, the Corbett Administration, the City of Allentown, PFM, community leaders on ANIZDA, developers, the Brooks Group and many other interested parties looking forward to a more prosperous city worked to make this complex yet effective financing arrangement a reality.”
Through the tax revenue bonds, financing was available to build a multi-use 8,500 seat arena, a hotel, multiple buildings for office space and apartments, restaurants and many more projects still to come – including development of Allentown’s underused waterfront.
“The Neighborhood Improvement Zone provides a revenue stream a developer can utilize to structure competitive commercial investment and lease opportunities in a high cost urban environment,” Senator Browne said. “This in turn will level the playing field for distressed cities with suburban opportunities allowing commercial parcels in those cities to once again meet their full potential”
It was not long after the Neighborhood Improvement Zone started to show signs of investment and success that legislators from other areas of the state were working to see how their struggling cities and boroughs could benefit from a similar program. This summer, legislation was passed to create the City Revitalization and Improvement Zones (CRIZ) to afford a similar tax financing program to smaller cities in Pennsylvania.
“It is my hope that this new tax financing strategy will not just benefit the City of Allentown, but instead will serve as a model for economic development in distressed areas – cities, boroughs and townships – throughout the Commonwealth and, potentially, for other states as well,” Senator Browne said.
The ANIZDA will be honored on Thursday, December 5 at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan, and later that night will compete with winners in the seven other categories for the right to be named The Bond Buyer‘s 2013 Deal of the Year.
The Bond Buyer describes itself as the only daily newspaper committed to serving the municipal bond industry and reaches 40,000 municipal finance professionals, bond issuers, government officials and investors, according to its website.
The website goes on to say that the 110-year-old provider of municipal bond information distributes information to those looking to finance new schools, pave roads, build bridges and tunnels, deliver potable water, move cargo and people, generate and transmit electric power, help to clean the environment, create manufacturing jobs, build courthouses, hospitals, nursing homes, and housing.