The Herald News, Monday, December 19, 2016 – Page A1

By Jo C. Goode
Email: jgoode@heraldnews.com

Fall River – About two-thirds of the city have the designation meant to give incentives for the development of market-rate housing. Now the Planning Department will hold a public hearing to bring the southern part of the city into the fold.

With a state and local tax incentive attached, the plan is to create a South End Housing Incentive Zone as part of the state’s Housing Development Incentive Program aimed to help Gateway Cities through the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“The purpose is to identify sections of the south side of the city that could be possible market-rate housing in old mill buildings, and that includes the King Philip Mill,” said Fall River Office of Economic Development Vice President Kenneth Fiola Jr.

The city-owned mill complex is up for sale although a recent request for proposal to purchase and develop the complex did not generate any bids.

In March, the City council approved a plan for a Central Housing Incentive Zone which abuts the waterfront incentive zone developed several years ago and along Plymouth Avenue and Pleasant and Alden streets.

Owners of Commonwealth Landing took advantage of the waterfront incentive program in November 2015 and received $1.9 million in tax credit to develop 103 market-rate apartments in a project worth $32 million. Demolition of the project is completed and construction has begun.

The city attempted to develop the South End incentive zone in 2014, but it was stalled after pushback by the local neighborhood group due to the uncertainty at the time of the future of the King Philip Mill, said Fiola.

Since then, the city has conducted an environmental study of the mill complex and a feasibility study. This week a request for bids for demolition of a majority of the property, including two of the three mill buildings, went out.

Fiola said the King Philip Mill is not currently zoned for residential use, but an approval of the South End Housing Incentive Zone would negate the need for the city to rezone the property through the Fall River Zoning Board or require a new owner to request a variance.

A South End plan will require the approval of the council and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In order for a developer to get approval for state tax incentives on market rate housing projects, Fiola said a community is required to agree to a local tax Incentive Exemption.

The public hearing is scheduled for December 28 at 5 p.m. in the City Council Hearing Room at Government Center.