A planned mixed-use development along Interstate 95 in Laurel could qualify for a proposed Prince George's County tax break program designed for revitalization, despite county officials' efforts to deny the project the perks.
County Executive Rushern Baker declined requests by the Gould family, developers of the 2,200-acre Konterra development, to expand the areas in which the program could apply, according to Thomas Himler, the county's deputy chief administrative officer for budget, finance and administration.
Baker's proposal would allow developers to make payments to the county in lieu of paying higher property taxes after they redevelop properties. Developers still would be taxed on the original value, but the arrangement could save them millions of dollars by avoiding paying as much as 95 percent more in taxes on properties as they gain in value for as long as 20 years.
But despite Baker's refusal to broaden the program, portions of the Konterra development adjacent to Interstate 95 and the new Intercounty Connector would be eligible.
Town Center East, an area of restaurants, shops and housing, is planned on land designated under county code as a "revitalization tax credit district," one of three areas Baker's program makes eligible for negotiating tax breaks.
Himler confirmed part of Konterra could qualify for the program. However, county officials must approve any deals.
Transit-oriented developments and urban renewal areas are also eligible for tax breaks under the proposed legislation, which must pass the General Assembly. The designations are intended to aid development inside the Capital Beltway, Himler said.
"We're trying to keep the focus narrow," he said. "The minute you start making adjustments for particular projects, other districts with other projects will want to be included."
The Coalition for Smarter Growth say Konterra has already benefited from taxpayers, thanks largely to the ICC, which runs into the development.
A project the size of Konterra likely will qualify for a tax increment finance plan or special tax district anyway, Himler said. National Harbor, a much smaller development, qualified for both.
Caleb Gould, vice president of Konterra, said the company has no plan or project in mind for which to request property tax breaks.
Gould also denied asking Baker to broaden the program only on his development's behalf.
"The discussion wasn't focused solely on Konterra, or intended to be a Konterra-focused issue," Gould said. "It seemed to us it was beneficial to the county and would give itself more flexibility to use the funds."