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Across the next few years, a brand new $7 million retail center anchored by a national grocery store and home goods retailer will replace a once derelict, delinquent apartment complex situated on a busy urban corner in a USDA-classified food desert. The Binghampton Development Corporation was able to create this urban oasis in part through EDGE’s Community Builder Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program.

Launched in 2016, the Community Builder PILOT was created as a tool to help spur the revitalization of distressed neighborhoods, by attracting retail, office, industrial, or other commercial projects.

“As we were rethinking the EDGE PILOT programs to make them more competitive, we realized that our most important local economic development incentive was virtually unusable for most inner-city projects – where it was most needed,” said Reid Dulberger, EDGE President/CEO. “After meeting with the Community Development Council and several other community stakeholders, we decided to create a tool similar to a traditional PILOT that could be used as an asset to help attract users to these distressed neighborhoods.”

The Community Builder program provides the same incentives that EDGE typically uses to retain or attract large-scale industrial or office projects, but is targeted at non-profit and for-profit entities investing in urban revitalization. To make the EDGE PILOT program more applicable for those projects, EDGE waived its self-imposed prohibitions against incentivizing retail and speculative projects. EDGE also tweaked the fee structure to make it easier for neighborhood groups to be the applicant.

“EDGE’s Community Builder PILOT is a wonderful tool specifically for recruiting tenants to come into the inner city and help redevelop these neighborhoods,” says Noah Gray, Executive Director, Binghampton Development Corporation. “The Community Builder PILOT is an innovative prototype that needs to be used as an economic development tool by other CDCs.”