URA discusses diverting taxes for garage

Parking garage at former Saks Fifth Avenue store to cost $35.3M

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The city's Urban Redevelopment Authority is considering a plan to divert 75 percent of the parking taxes generated by a proposed parking garage at the former Saks Fifth Avenue department store site for 20 years to help pay for the development.

URA board members will consider the proposed tax diversion at their meeting Thursday as part of approvals related to the proposed redevelopment.

Developers Millcraft Investments and McKnight Realty Partners plan to build a 590-space garage and 25,000 square feet of retail space at the site on Smithfield Street and adjoining space on Fifth Avenue at a cost of $35.3 million. The parking tax diversion is expected to generate up to $6 million to help in the construction of the garage.

As part of Thursday's actions, the URA intends to enter into an agreement to sell the land for the development to Smithfield Oliver Partners LP, made up of Millcraft and McKnight, for $2.2 million.

The board also will vote on a two-year option agreement to sell the air rights above the garage to the development team for $2.2 million. Millcraft and McKnight have pledged to city councilman Bill Peduto, the Democratic mayoral nominee, to do a second phase that would involve the construction of apartments above the garage.

Mr. Peduto also would like to see some of any public financing provided for the development used to make infrastructure improvements to the Smithfield Street corridor. But Robert Rubinstein, URA acting executive director, didn't think that would be possible with the parking tax diversion. "The economics are very tight," he said.

Also on Thursday, the board will consider selling the 62nd Street Industrial Park in Lawrenceville to Paragon Foods to accommodate a proposed expansion by the fresh foods distributor. To do so, it intends to terminate an option agreement the Buncher Co. has for the property as well as one the URA has with Buncher for property on 43rd Street.

neigh_city - businessnews

Mark Belko: mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.


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