I'd like to respond to the many comments that were posted following the recent Post-Journal article on the third phase of CODE's Appleyard development in Jamestown. First let me say that I might have similar feelings regarding these developments and the structure of CODE Inc. if I did not know what I know about CODE and its mission.
Many of the comments seemed to suggest that the City of Jamestown is the funding source for the Appleyard developments. The city has been supportive and has secured some grants to help CODE but no "city" tax money is spent on CODE's developments. The fact is that the city will get reimbursed for the emergency demolition of the VFW building for over $100,000 with the new Appleyard development.
CODE also has payment in lieu of tax agreements on most of its properties with the city, meaning that CODE contributes to the city for their properties including the Appleyard developments. Often the properties that are demolished for development were off the tax rolls so the new developments would seem to help the city financially.
CODE's main source of funding for developments like Appleyard is based on Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) s. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit is a dollar-for-dollar tax credit in the United States for affordable housing investments. It was created under the Tax Reform Act in 1986 that gives incentives for the utilization of private equity in the development of affordable housing aimed at low-income Americans. LIHTC accounts for the majority of all affordable rental housing created in the United States today. The tax credit market is very competitive so I am proud of CODE's ability to secure these credits for developments in our area.
The addition or creation of jobs and the economic impact of the new construction or renovation clearly help the local work force and economy. Speaking of work forces, CODE's entire staff that handles everything from securing funding for large projects to maintaining properties to collecting rent is handled by a staff of less than six people. The CODE board of directors, of which I am chairman, is comprised of a cross section of diverse and dedicated volunteers, many of whom live in the target areas served by CODE.
I would ask anyone who questions CODE's mission and developments to think of the improvements CODE has brought to our community.
First let's talk about Euclid School. I think we all remember the horrendous condition of the school before it was developed by CODE. What would have happened to the school had CODE not developed it? Who would pay the six-figure cost to tear it down? I believe it would be the very same taxpayers who question our mission.
CODE was also instrumental in the improvements to the gateway to Jamestown on North Main Street, including the makeover of the five-point to Robert H. Jackson Square. Do you remember the former Bigelow's building before CODE rehabilitated into the handsome Chadakoin Building? CODE also was instrumental in the development of the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena.
There are way too many developments to note but hopefully we can all remember what Second Street looked like in the area of the Appleyard developments before CODE began its focus there.
Hopefully this explanation will clear up some of the misconception of what CODE is doing and has done to serve our area. CODE has been very successful at working with partners and under difficult circumstances to make these developments happen with virtually no direct local tax dollars. My feeling, personally, is if LIHTCs are available I'd rather see them in use in Chautauqua County instead of California or New York City. I hope most people can agree with that and have a better feeling about CODE once they understand the financing and structure as I have tried to clarify.
Mark Olson is a local businessman and community volunteer and currently serves as the chairman of the board for CODE Inc.