The Tucson City Council approved an application for a tax incentive for a downtown property.
The property, at 601 N. Stone Ave., was purchased by Cirrus Visual, a graphic design company. The study approved by the council Tuesday will analyze the economic impact a tax incentive for Cirrus would have for the city.
The incentive for Cirrus is part of the city’s Government Property Lease Excise Tax — or GPLET — incentive program designed to bolster redevelopment in downtown Tucson.
Councilmember Regina Romero said the move by Cirrus would create more “high-wage, long-term” jobs in downtown.
“I’m happy that it’s on the Stone Avenue corridor that needs investment and really, to be frank, it needs infrastructure investment,” said Romero, whose ward includes the new Cirrus location.
The building, near the corner of North Stone Avenue and West Fifth Street, has been used as an automotive shop for the past 70 years, according to the city.
Cirrus hopes to complete a remodel of the property and move its staff there by spring 2016, said Brandon Blair, president of Cirrus.
The company will spend about $1.55 million total to purchase and renovate the property.
Romero said she’s ready to support the project in the “gateway to downtown,” but she wants to make sure the incentive is needed and worthwhile for the city.
Cirrus will move into the new property regardless of whether the tax incentive is approved, Blair said.
“The tax incentive really allows us the ability to add additional good-paying jobs in Tucson,” he said. “It allows us to invest in equipment and other capital to expand our services, which in turn helps us grow and generate more revenue.”
The renovation will be viable without the tax incentive, but whether the project will be viable or not is not among the criteria for being approved, said Camila Bekat, a city economic development specialist.
In order to qualify for the tax incentive, Cirrus must pay $5,000 for the independent economic analysis. That analysis must show that the economic and fiscal benefits exceed whatever benefits the property owner receives and double the property’s value.
Tuesday’s approval of the application is the first step. Once the economic analysis is completed, the application will go back before the City Council for consideration, Bekat said. The process takes about four or five months, she said.
Cirrus, which is now in an unincorporated area of Pima County, estimates that the renovation of the North Stone Avenue property will add four employees to its current staff of 17. Blair said the company hopes to add more jobs in the next few years.
He said the move to downtown Tucson “makes sense logistically.”
“We’re just excited to be a part of downtown Tucson,” Blair said. “We see the growth and energy that’s being created downtown as a great fit for our company.”
Eleven GPLET incentives for downtown properties have been approved since the program was approved by the City Council in 2012, Bekat said.