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November 16, 2022

Congresswoman Bourdeaux, Salazar Urge Inclusion Of Shopping Malls Revitalization Bill In Spending Package

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congresswomen Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA-07) and Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL-27), along with seven of their congressional colleagues, urged the inclusion of Rep. Bourdeaux’s bill, HR 5041, the GREATER Revitalization of Shopping Centers Act, in an end-of-year spending package. H.R. 5041 was included in the House-passed FY2023 Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations earlier this year. 

“I was pleased to see my legislation to redevelop underutilized and abandoned malls pass the House,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux. “We need to keep the momentum going and ensure this provision is passed by the Senate. Abandoned and struggling malls occupy acres of underutilized land in communities across the country. This bill helps incentivize private redevelopment and will help stitch the fabric of our communities back together.”

“Our country is ripe for renewal and incentivizing commercial redevelopment projects is an obvious tool at our disposal,” stated Congresswoman Salazar. “I am glad to co-lead this effort that seeks to create more economic opportunity by maximizing untapped potential in our towns and cities through public private partnerships.”

The House-passed FY2023 Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations bill includes $60 million for the redevelopment of vacant shopping centers and other underutilized commercial or industrial properties. With the expansion of online retail, once-vibrant shopping centers and malls have become eyesores for communities around the country and high-potential sites for redevelopment and revitalization. Last year, Rep. Bourdeaux held a press conference at the largely unoccupied Gwinnett Place Mall to announce the introduction of H.R. 5041, which has received wide support from across the community.

In addition to Reps. Bourdeaux and Salazar, the letter was signed by Reps. Madeline Dean, Cynthia Axne, Dwight Evans, J. Luis Correa, Vicente Gonzalez, David Scott, and Jimmy Panetta.

See the letter here.

Read the letter below. 

Dear Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Shelby and Chairman DeLauro and Ranking Member Granger,

We write in strong support of the $60 million in competitive economic development grants and the accompanying committee report language included in H.R. 8294, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2023. This funding will support the redevelopment of abandoned and underutilized shopping malls which create significant blight for many communities across this country. We urge you to retain this vital funding in any final agreement between the House and Senate.  

The funding included in the House-passed bill builds on a proven model of providing grant subsidies in conjunction with the Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program, which helps localities secure additional investments to undertake large-scale redevelopment projects. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has found that for every $1 of Section 108 funds invested in a project, localities secured an average of $4.62 additional investment. 

Providing a grant subsidy in addition to Section 108 loans has been done before, through the Economic Development Initiative (EDI) program during the 1990s, which resulted in greatly expanded utilization of the Section 108 program. Throughout the first 17 years of the Section 108 loan guarantee program, HUD made 623 loan commitments totaling just under $2.2 billion, but once the EDI program incentives were added, in the first two years of EDI, 1995-1996, 307 loan commitments were made for almost $2.3 billion. The reintroduction of a more targeted version of this program could help our communities address the unique challenges associated with redeveloping old malls. 

We believe that abandoned shopping malls hold enormous potential to help address critical needs for local communities, from affordable housing and mixed-use developments to fulfillment centers, health facilities, and corporate offices. These underutilized and blighted properties are frequently located near transit, close to housing and other businesses, and occupy a significant amount of space that can be repurposed with infill development to generate substantial public revenue and jobs for the surrounding community. Additionally, redeveloping these properties instead of building into greenfields is a more environmentally sustainable form of development, but often does entail higher upfront investment because of the costs associated with tearing down the old mall and remediating or upgrading old infrastructure. 

The $60 million in competitive economic development grants currently in the House-passed Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act includes $50 million specifically to support the revitalization of abandoned shopping centers, 

We urge you to retain this vital new tool in any final agreement reached between the House and Senate. Thank you for your consideration of this request. 

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Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux lives with her family in Suwanee, Georgia, and represents Georgia’s 7th Congressional District in the 117th Congress. Carolyn is a strong advocate for affordable health care, and economic recovery that puts workers and small businesses first, and investing in her district’s world-class public education system and transportation infrastructure. 

Georgia’s fast-changing 7th Congressional District includes portions of the northeast Atlanta metropolitan area, including portions of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties and cities Peachtree Corners, Berkeley Lake, Sugar Hill, Norcross, Cumming, Lawrenceville, Duluth, Snellville, Lilburn, Suwanee, Grayson, and Buford