College Park buildings designated for senior living and affordable student housing could be prioritized for city tax credits after a College Park City Council discussion on Tuesday.

The city’s revitalization tax credit program provides financial incentives for projects in two revitalization districts in the city, which encompass all commercial, mixed-use and industrial areas. The council on Tuesday discussed expanding tax credits in the city for affordable housing, blighted properties and other entities that could foster more economic development.

There are two levels of tax credit eligibility through the program. Developments must be located in revitalization districts to receive the credit. Level one projects are eligible for five years of tax credit. Properties eligible under this level can receive a maximum of 75 percent credit in their first year, and subsequently less credit for up to four years afterward.

Level two projects are eligible to receive a maximum tax credit of 60 percent for up to 15 years. The council evaluates whether a project is eligible for the tax credit program and which level it falls under.

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Mayor Fazlul Kabir said the city is interested in focusing the program’s housing tax credits on affordable housing in particular, which would incentivize more affordable undergraduate and graduate student housing development.

“Many years ago we started supporting all the student housing on Route 1,” Kabir said. “But they’re not affordable [now].”

The council has previously issued revitalization tax credits to The Hotel at the University of Maryland and the Cambria Hotel, as well as The Varsity, Tempo, The Atworth and Aster apartment complexes.

Some housing developments that have previously earned tax credits through the revitalization tax program remain unaffordable to students, District 4 council member Maria Mackie said. Mackie added that she wants to secure promises of affordability from housing developments before giving them more tax credits.

City staff echoed similar sentiments about providing tax credits for graduate student housing developments — an idea the council was enthusiastic about.

Michael Williams, College Park’s economic development director, advocated for potential graduate student housing developments to clearly define affordability before proceeding with development.

“We’ve learned with whatever graduate student housing projects that came before you all that the definition of what the council was thinking was an affordable graduate student housing unit was not the same as what the developer came forward with,” Williams said.

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Council members also proposed tax credits for other property types.

Mackie said the city should consider advancing a proposal that would provide tax credits to blighted properties, which would incentivize their development.

“I’ve always been an advocate of developing blighted properties rather than cutting down trees and making more cement in College Park,” she said.

District 3 council member John Rigg also said the tax credit program could encourage more senior housing development in the city.

More housing for seniors could increase the city’s year-round resident population, Rigg said.

“Purpose-built senior housing is something that’s missing in the city of College Park,” Rigg said. “We have some lower income senior housing, but we don’t have broad market senior housing.”