Councillors Warm to Tax Break for Market Basket

Virtually everyone has been intrigued by the prospect that the Market Basket might locate in the Northgate Shopping Center, and even more so that the store might be requesting a tax break from the City in the form of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement.

The news of a potential TIF for Demoulas Market Basket got out last week, and though there are no specifics about the agreement in the public marketplace as of yet, there is quite a bit of talk about it.

Mayor Dan Rizzo did not comment for this story, but he told the Journal last week that his administration is willing to grant Market Basket a TIF in order to get them into Northgate.

The only people left to convince are 11 city councillors, and this week many of the councillors had a positive view of the idea upon first glance.

In 2001, Revere tagged onto Chelsea in order to get access to a state program that allowed the municipality to grant property tax relief agreements. That program is called the Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) and is administered by the state’s Office of Business Development (OBD).

About a year after gaining the ability to do so, Revere offered a 20-year TIF agreement to the Necco Candy Company after the company began working on its move to Revere.

It was supposed to be the beginning of what would be many, many agreements. Former Mayor Tom Ambrosino and numerous councillors indicated that they could envision several TIFs. However, nothing more ever came of the program and Necco remains to this day Revere’s one and only TIF agreement.

Now, however, the new administration is hoping to use the program anew.

City Councillor Tony Zambuto, who chairs the Council Economic Development Committee, said he would conditionally approve of a small agreement with Market Basket.

“I am a big proponent of TIFs,” he said. “I would probably be for a small TIF for that use as a Market Basket because it has the potential to be the catalyst to regenerate that mall into a real mall. I would be conditionally in favor of it. This isn’t like the Necco TIF, but a small TIF that gives them access to some state resources…I think this is about more than bringing people to a supermarket, but revitalizing that mall.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Bob Haas said he wasn’t sure if he would be for or against a TIF, but he wondered aloud about how other supermarkets might feel.

“Stop & Shop invested in Revere at Suffolk Downs, at Squire Road and at Wonderland,” he said. “They have three stores. Do they get a TIF? They came in without one. TIFs are great, but if they’re already coming in, then why give them a break? They are supposed to lure companies to Revere who might not otherwise consider us as an option. It’s like Necco. They didn’t even ask for it until after they were already coming in. But really, until Market Basket comes in, it’s all hearsay.”

Councillor Jessica Giannino and Ira Novoselsky said that they needed more information before being able to support such a proposal.

“I would wonder how all of this would work with the Price Rite next door,” said Giannino.

“I’m not against business and I’m a supporter of TIFs, but I have to see the numbers before I can make any decision,” said Novoselsky.

“I’d like to know what they are willing to give us,” said Councillor Stephen Reardon. “These things are usually tit-for-tat scenarios.”

Most councillors, however, felt it would be a good move.

“I think the City would be foolhardy not to extend that to them,” said Ward 3 Councillor Arthur Guinasso. “They will bring jobs and they have the ability to change that area.”

Ward 6 Councillor Charlie Patch, who represents the area, said he didn’t see any problem with it.

“As long as we don’t give away the store with it, then I think I would support it,” said Patch. “People want the Market Basket and we need the Market Basket. I think it would create a lot of jobs and I think giving them a small TIF is a no-brainer.”

So far, there has been no official communication to the Council about the TIF from the Mayor’s Office, but something concrete is expected within the next month. Any TIF agreement between the City and Market Basket would have to be approved by the City Council.

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