BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Boardman attorney held a meeting to discuss the tax incentive proposal for the Southern Park Mall.
Earlier this month, the Boardman School Board approved language to create a Community Reinvestment Area for a new section of the mall. That could lead to tax abatement for that project.
It still has to be approved by the Mahoning County Commissioners, but Saturday, eight members of the community sat with Attorney Carl Rafoth to discuss their concerns over the matter.
“It’s too open-ended. It’s too nebulous. It’s too uncertain as to exactly what Washington Prime wants to do,” said Rafoth.
Washington Prime Group is the company that owns the mall. It is planning to turn what used to be Sears into a new designated entertainment section.
The Boardman School Board voted to approve the Community Reinvestment Area earlier this month.
However, it could eventually lead to a tax abatement for any new development in the entertainment area only.
“I believe that Washington Prime is looking for an unfair tax advantage and wants to prime their financial pump on the backs of the existing property owners,” Rafoth said.
The plan would exempt the company from paying property taxes for 15 years.
“They tore down the Sears building in the Southern Park Mall and I’m not aware of any concrete plan that they have to invest in anything particular at that location,” Rafoth said.
According to Anthony Cafaro Jr., whose family owns the Dillard’s property was also in attendance, he also has some questions.
“Apparently, they have not been transparent in what they want to do; therefore, as an adjacent property owner, a significant property owner, he also wonders what Washington Prime wants to do,” Rafoth said.
While community members are concerned over the proposal, they are not entirely against it.
“We hope that if it creates meaningful employment without burden on the taxpaying property owners, then it’s a good thing. It’s a win-win situation,” Rafoth said.
Boardman Trustees are expected to vote on the creation of a Community Entertainment District Monday morning.