A 10-year, 50 percent property tax break for a student housing developer that hopes to build apartments at Columbia’s BullStreet community is back for consideration after Richland County Council earlier rejected it.
Haven Campus Communities of Atlanta was the fifth student housing developer to apply for tax credits offered by the city and the county before a Dec. 31, 2015, deadline.
All four other housing projects that applied were approved ahead of Haven’s request for the tax break. But in May, County Council rejected Haven’s request. There was no discussion before council’s 6-3 vote against it.
Now, the request has resurfaced, and council members have some new information to consider, said Councilman Paul Livingston, who chairs the council economic development committee and was one of the three members to originally vote in favor of offering the tax break.
“Some of the concerns were whether or not the community has a capacity for that much student housing,” Livingston said. “Just looking at the numbers, (the University of South Carolina) supports more housing.”
In addition, Livingston said there might have been a misconception among some council members that a tax break for another student housing developer would mean a loss of money for the county. That thought is contrary to reality, Livingston said, as even discounted taxes on the Haven project would still draw in more revenue for the county than if an office building were built on the same site.
A loophole in council’s procedures allows the item to come back for reconsideration. After the initial vote, council members decided to defer approval of that portion of the meeting’s minutes, meaning that the vote was not locked in.
On Tuesday, the majority of council members voted to negate their previous vote, which allows the matter of the tax break to come back for an all new vote at council’s next meeting.
Livingston’s economic development committee is recommending that council approve the tax break.
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.