The CRIZ consists of 130 acres of parcels designated for economic development and job creation within the City of Bethlehem. State and local taxes collected within the CRIZ will be used to repay debt service to stimulate economic development projects within the zone. Bonds will be issued by the Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Zone Authority (BRIA), which will then be paid off using various State and Local Tax Revenues created in the zone. The focus of this program is to spur new growth, by enhancing development opportunities that will help to revive Bethlehem and create new jobs for the residents of the City.
The parcels included in the CRIZ include vacant, desolate, underutilized, and abandoned properties that are ready for redevelopment. These developments will help to create jobs, increase personal income, grow local and state tax revenues, and improve the overall quality of living for residents. Potential CRIZ projects include the redevelopment of Martin Tower and adjacent parcels, the redevelopment of Bethlehem Steel Machine Shop NO. 2, Majestic’s Bethlehem Technology Facility, and various developments along W. 3rd and W. 4th Streets on the Southside.
The CRIZ is administered by the Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Zone Authority (BRIA).
LERTA is a tax abatement program that was created in 1977 to incentivize property investment and redevelopment of difficult and undesirable properties- such as brownfield sites. LERTA creates a graduated increase in tax payments on new construction and property rehabilitation for owners of commercial, industrial, and business properties located within designated zones in the City. LERTA does require that property owners pay full land taxes, while taxes on improvements increase to the fully owed amount at an agreed upon rate over 10 years. The LERTA abatement applies to the tax increment from any substantial renovation or new construction, but does not make a property tax-free. Applications for LERTA must be submitted within 60 days of a building permit. The city has two LERTA areas– the Southside LERTA and the Northside LERTA, each having their own tax abatement provisions.
Certain zones in the City of Bethlehem are targeted by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to encourage private investment, promote job growth and economic development. PA DCED authorizes Enterprise Zone Tax Credits
for certain specified Pennsylvania taxes to private companies making qualified investments in rehabilitating, expanding, or improving buildings or land in designated Enterprise Zones. Enterprise Zone Tax Credits, through the Neighborhood Assistance Program, are 25% tax credits up to $500,000. These tax credits can be applied, carried forward, or sold.
On December 22, 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) created Qualified Opportunity Zones, a tool for promoting long-term investment in low-income communities. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Opportunity Zones are designed to spur economic development by providing tax benefits to investors. The federal tax bill passed at the end of December 2017 enables the governor to designate certain census tracts as Opportunity Zones. Investments made by individuals through special funds in these zones would be allowed to defer or eliminate federal taxes on capital gains. There are nearly 1,200 eligible census tracts and the governor designated 300 tracts based on economic data, recommendations from local partners, and the likelihood of private-sector investment in those tracts.
Bethlehem Opportunity Zone