Discover Financial Services' expansion project in New Albany on May 21 was granted tax incentives from the city and the state and on May 22 received required variances and waivers from the local architectural review board and board of zoning appeals.

Discover Financial Services' expansion project in New Albany on May 21 was granted tax incentives from the city and the state and on May 22 received required variances and waivers from the local architectural review board and board of zoning appeals.

New Albany City Council voted 5-0 in favor of a 15-year, 65-percent abatement on property taxes and a 10-year, 30-percent income-tax credit starting in 2015. The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 15-year, 75-percent tax credit based on the $7.5 million in new payroll expected to be created by the project.

Discover announced May 15 it would add 162 employees to the 1,537 working at its call center in New Albany and build a 97,000-square-foot data center on the north side of the building, pending approval of the incentives. The incentives will save the company $17 million, city and state officials estimated.

The project will increase the company's $65 million annual payroll by $7.5 million, said Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany's community development director. She estimated the city will earn $15.3 million over the term of the incentives.

The New Albany-Plain Local School District will earn a portion of property taxes on the data center and 100 percent of property taxes on the existing call center when current abatements expire in 2015, Chrysler said.

On May 22, the board of zoning appeals on voted 4-0 in favor of four variances: changing the required tree planting on side lots; eliminating the leisure trails on the property; reducing the number of required parking spaces from 270 to 145; and waiving the street-tree requirement for New Albany-Condit Road. Matt Shull was absent for the vote.

The architectural review board voted 5-0 in favor of three items: a waiver from city code that requires buildings to have "operable and active front doors" along public and private roads; a certificate of appropriateness on condition the aforementioned waiver is approved; and approval for the back of the building to face a public right of way. Members Jonathan Iten and Randolph Pierce were absent.

Kathryn Meyer, New Albany's deputy director of community development, said the data center required variances because it is different from other buildings, housing more equipment than employees and requiring more security.

Discover was considering several other locations for the expansion project. As part of the state's incentive, the company must remain in New Albany for 18 years.

Dana Blakeman, director of facilities for Discover, said the company will break ground on the site in July or August and the facility should open in August 2013. The Discover campus is at the southwest corner of New Albany Road East and New Albany Condit Road