Tax abatement on Aisle 5

July 24, 2007
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Marsh Supermarkets is hoping for final approval next month O’Malia’sof a five-year tax abatement worth about $50,000 for a renovation of its downtown O'Malia's store. The company plans to invest $1.5 million in the project. Abatements for retail developments are rare, and this one seems particularly unusual since the store sits in a great location amid a growing downtown residential population. Marsh also doesn't plan to add to the store's staff of about 45. What do you think: Is this a justified reward for investing in the neighborhood, or is the city giving away too many tax breaks?
UPDATE: Marsh has decided to drop the abatement request.
  • There should absolutely NOT be an abatement for this. Among many other reasons, the big, big, BIG issue is the horrible precedent it would set. Any business that wanted to renovate could ask the city for an abatement.
  • It's a poor design. Are they considering redesigning it? It's dingy, tightly stocked, and not very clean. They are trying to be too much to too many people. I've seen more attractive markets in Moscow. DT is screwed without a decent grocery, and while it SEEMS like they have a corner on the market, DT dwellers don;t exactly compare to the suburban shoppers who fill up (at our house anyway) at about $200 week in groceries. My bet is Marsh is threatening to leave unless they get the abatement.

    It used to be pretty decent spot for lunch, but pretty much sucks now. Last meal i had there from the grill was complete garbage.

    I'd think it neat to see the data that shows just what each household spends on groceries in the +/- mile square area. Could be surprising.
  • Unless the property in question is horribly blighted or a not-for-profit group is trying to do some good in the community, I don't think the city should be in the business of subsidizing renovations. Certainly not for perfectly healthy businesses like O'Malia's.

    If Marsh is threatening to leave downtown over a $50k abatement, they can screw off. Asking for $50k on a $1.5M renovation looks like they're asking for a hand-out to me. They certainly don't NEED the $50k to get the renovation done.
  • As much as I want this downtown store renovated, I agree that it sets a very dangerous precedent for the city to grant abatements to a) a company that is capable of making the renovations in the normal course of business and b) sitting on a retail outlet in a rapidly appreciating area.

    Sadly, with our cities history of handing out tax breaks, Marsh could easily hold this store hostage. All of continue to suffer -- or just drive north for groceries.
  • I have to say I feel the same way. No special treatment or monies should be given to a business that is wanting to renovate their establishment or else others will follow suit. O'malia's has been a great fixture for our growing downtown and will be missed if they should pull out for not getting the $50K abatement. But, if they should leave I am sure there will be another more appreciative grocer to enter behind them and fill in the gap. I think Sun Capital is a big enough company that they can afford to eat $50K on a $1.5 million renovation project.
  • Give 'em a break. This is a much-needed grocery downtown that needs much-needed attention. I look forward to the place being renovated.
  • No abatements for retail, no abatements for projects that don't create new decent jobs or tax base.

    I live in Center Township. My taxes are high enough, and I need the spend at O'Malia's downtown on my way home from work.

    I'm sure Sunflower, or Whole Foods/Wild Oats, or Trader Joe's would love their spot.
  • I agree with ThuderMutt. I still think they are going to need tottoally redesign the store....its set up just wrong, IMHO.
  • Agree with CorrND. Retail abatement should be rarely used, and even then, only to boost a blighted area. O'Malia's as the only grocery store downtown should not receive an abatement for a renovation that should improve its business! What the heck is next!?

    By the way, O'Malia's landlord is none other than Crystal DeHaan. Wonder if that factors into it.
  • The City should not provide tax abatements for this renovation. This mindset that downtown is still somehow a redevelopment zone and government should provide financial incentives is ridiculous. The City has to stop reinforcing this idea and put an end to financial offerings to private development.

    I would be happy to see Marsh leave and a more suitable grocer (ie. Whole Foods) come to downtown. Whole Foods understands urban markets and could provide a much better service to downtown residents.
  • I don't consider d'town blighted or in need of redevelopment. There should absolutely be no tax abatement of any type for this renovation. Thats the problem with center township property now...too many tax abatements.

    I can't believe that the city would even consider this in light of recent issues with the county income tax increase, etc.
  • How about no abatements anywhere? It is a ridiculous
    practice and should be outlawed.

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