As the city of Albany wrings its hands over its problem of housing deterioration, especially in areas of student rentals, the obvious solution is pushed aside.
Economic incentives drive real estate choices in these areas, just as for other urban configurations.
Experience shows that shifting the property tax off improvements onto land values removes the penalties for development and maintenance, and spurs the improvement of underused locations.
A comparison of building permits per capita in two state capitals, Harrisburg, PA., and Albany, shows how the phase-out of taxes on buildings has fostered redevelopment in Harrisburg.
Once regarded as the second-most depressed city in the country, Harrisburg is on its way back, which longtime Mayor Steve Reed attributes to that tax shift.