Monday, May 19, 2008

Assessing Assessments

I recently had my downtown property reassessed at $478,000, from $252,000. This seemed like a hefty increase, so I trecked down to the assessors office to look into the matter. I sat down with the assessor Ray who showed me some comparable properties and their values per square foot. Based on the comparisons he offered, I had nothing to complain about. But before leaving, I bought a list of all the Main and 6th Street property values.

So I have been walking up and down Main and 6th the last few days looking at properties. As I contemplate challenging my assessment, I find myself devaluing my own property relative to others when admittedly I would do just the opposite if I were trying to sell my building.

Anyway, though I can not be trusted to be objective here, I will nonetheless offer my observations. The thing that jumps out the most is that Jim Spodick and Mr. Choi are getting raked over the coals with their assessments. For example, the building at 515 6th Street, a three story, 20 foot wide building that houses Wilbur's, has an asseement of $454,000, while the building next door, also three stories and 20 feet wide, is valued at $190,000. Mr. Choi owns an eyesore on 6th, a vacant one story eyesore that used to be a music store, that has been valued at $348,000. Of course, if you paid $348,000 for an eyesore, it would be hard to argue that it is not worth $348,000.

On the low end of the spectrum is Porter's, though it takes up nearly the entire block, it is valued at only $560,000. Also very low is the former YMCA on 6th Street that houses the 6th Street Theatre and includes four storefronts. It is enormous yet is vauled at just $360,000. Most of the small buildings lining Main Street are modestly assessed.

My overall impression is that newly purchased buildings or newly renovated buildings are getting hammered while people who have owned property for a long time without renovating have artificially low assessments. Given what appears to be unequitable assessments, their is an incentive to hang on to properties and not update them. As usual, the city is doing things all wrong when it comes to redevelopment efforts. If anything, we should be assessing vacant decaying buildings somewhat higher, while not punishing development quite so much. I won't be holding my breath.

No comments: