Economics & Economy
5:11 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Revitalizing Cities

When the average tourist thinks about historic Virginia cities to visit, one of the most popular destinations is Colonial Williamsburg.

It’s not the only destination where one can take in a history lesson, but some of the others have endured an economic slump and are not always popular tourist destinations.  But, under a bill heading to the Governor, some of these areas could get an economic boost without imposing extra taxes on the localities or getting more funding from the state.

Richmond and Petersburg are just a few Virginia cities with significant historic value, but some sections seem to have been abandoned and left to deteriorate. They're not even appealing to the residents who live in those sections and are often etched out of the travel itineraries of would-be travelers. Delegate Rosalyn Dance of Petersburg says her vacant- building bill will, in several ways, help restore her city and those like it.

"To let us raise registration fees considerably as well as put penalties on those folks like absent landlords that are not taking care of their properties.  So that we can be compensated for what it costs us to track them down and make it happen, to make them feel a little bit better and hopefully to be able to remove for us and Petersburg like over 233 red-tagged buildings," said Dance.

Those penalties would increase the annual registration fee on the owner of a derelict building from $25 to $100. The civil penalty for failing to register that building increases from $50 to $200  and from $250 to $400  if that building is in a designated conservation or rehabilitation district.  Dance says ultimately, the goal is to boost tourism. She adds that 15 such Virginia cities could benefit from this bill.

Tommie McNeil reports from Richmond.