Teachers Union criticizes property tax deal for Trolley Barn site

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Columbus Education Association (CEA) is criticizing a recent proposal approved by the Board of Education. At Tuesday night’s meeting, the board unanimously approved a Downtown Redevelopment District (DRD) with developer Connect Real Estate.

The plan was first proposed during the November 6 meeting. The developer plans to redevelop the Trolley Barn Area near Franklin Park into a market with 19 fresh food stall, internet access, a business incubator, market stall for Columbus City Schools (CCS) and more.

Residents have previously complained to the school board about filth and crime stemming from the dilapidated site.

“We heard about stories of rats and crime, we heard about stories of folks doing their own due diligence to keep that area of that community clean themselves,” said Michael Cole, Vice President of the Board of Education.

Plans call for revitalization of the site.

“This is of important benefit because our students are dealing with issues outside of our four walls as a district that are impacting them at home,” said Cole. “Their ability to be able to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for families. The issue of crime and blight in the communities they live in.”

Under the agreement the developer would pay full property taxes, 30% which would go to the school district and 70% of which would be reinvested in the market. The developer estimates over the next 30 years that would be about $8.9 million in tax revenue for the market and $3.8 million for the school district which is estimated to be about $1 million more than without the development.

“A big developer tax abatement gets rebranded as a ‘reinvestment’… that will cost our students and classrooms nearly 9 million dollars,” the CEA posted on Facebook about the deal.

Cole and says it’s not an abatement but a tax sharing model.

“This is a win win opportunity where, this is what my mind what partnership is all about, where community benefits, our children benefit, and the district benefits,” he said.

The deal still has to be approved by City Council.

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