ATLANTIC CITY — The Planning Board unanimously approved amending the municipal Master Plan to incorporate the recently completed Ducktown Neighborhood Revitalization Plan, opening the door for new funding and incentives that would spur economic growth in the area.

The 185-page plan was the result of a nearly year-long process that included community meetings, door-to-door surveys and analyzing data with the purpose of improving the long-term viability and quality of life in the Ducktown neighborhood.

Barbara Woolley-Dillon, the city’s planning and development director, said the Ducktown proposal was “planning done right” in voicing her support.

“This is what is going to be coming next for the rest of the neighborhoods,” she said. “We need to do neighborhood-based planning (throughout the city).”

Jim Rutala, principal of Rutala Associates LLC and author of the revitalization plan, said the next step was the creation of a nonprofit community development corporation in Ducktown. The city’s adoption of the revitalization plan makes the neighborhood eligible for up to $1.2 million from the Wells Fargo Implementation Grant to fund staffing of the development corporation.

In 2017, the state Department of Community Affairs — the agency overseeing Atlantic City finances during the Municipal Stabilization and Recovery Act — determined that Ducktown could qualify for the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit program, but a revitalization plan was necessary. DCA must now approve the plan.

“With a revitalization plan now in place for Ducktown, the city is better positioned to attract investment to this neighborhood through a variety of private-sector and government initiatives like the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit program, which DCA administers, and Opportunity Zones,” the state agency said in a statement Friday. “Comprehensive planning can open so many doors for Atlantic City, which is why the state and city are focused this year on creating a citywide master plan that provides a clear vision for how development should happen in the city.”

The NRTC is designed to foster the revitalization of distressed neighborhoods by offering business entities an 80% tax credit against various state taxes. Sixty percent of the tax credit funds must be used for activities related to the development of housing and economic development.

The neighborhood’s proximity to the Atlantic City Rail Terminal could also provide development incentives if the city is able to obtain a Transit Village designation. Funding from a variety of state agencies, most notably the state Department of Transportation, is available to qualifying municipalities for streetscape improvement, road paving and pedestrian-friendly projects.

Rutala also noted that Ducktown was the only neighborhood in Atlantic City that was completely inside a federal opportunity zone, which provides tax credits for rehabilitation and development projects in low- to moderate-income areas.

Proposed by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and approved by Congress in 2017, Opportunity Zones provide for a reduction in capital gains taxes for investors. The program is already being used by developers in the Orange Loop of Atlantic City.

“(The revitalization plan is) opening a lot of avenues to the neighborhood that they’ve never had,” Rutala said. “You need all these tools to make something happen. There’s a reason these neighborhoods haven’t changed in the last few decades.”

Contact: 609-272-7222 Twitter @ACPressDanzis

Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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