The committee advanced a bill granting the refinery status as a Keystone Opportunity Zone, the most generous of incentives for businesses to locate in the state, providing exemptions from all taxes.
The bill was introduced by Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson.
“This can be an economic engine not only for South Philadelphia but for the Philadelphia region, and I believe it will be a great asset when it comes to job training, job development,” he said.
There were skeptics.
The buyer, Hilco, does not plan to reopen it as a refinery, a disappointment for the union members who worked there, and Councilmember Bobby Henon, known as a union advocate, sought written agreements that Hilco would make payments in lieu of taxes and put a promised $500 million into remediation.
“It’s an incredible responsibility for this body to make sure this 1,300 acres has the best opportunities,” Henon said.
Hilco’s Jeremy Gray assured the committee the deal would provide many benefits, including millions in tax revenue and a commitment to a diverse workforce for the thousands of promised jobs.
“We are committed with the city here to have a great development,” Gray said.