Urban Redevelopment Authority advances plan to fund East Liberty improvements

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

The city's Urban Redevelopment Authority board is pushing ahead with a plan to divert a large portion of real estate and parking tax revenue from a host of projects in or near East Liberty to help fund road, pedestrian and other improvements in the area.

Board members will vote Thursday on a proposal to create an East Liberty Transit Revitalization Investment District in which 75 percent of the new real estate and parking tax revenue generated by development within half a mile of the East Liberty stop on the East Busway would be used for infrastructure improvements.

Also Thursday, the board is expected to vote on $500,000 in loans to help clear the way for Fifth Avenue Pub and Lofts, a proposed restaurant and apartment development across the street from Consol Energy Center. It would mark the first major private development to take place in that area since the arena opened in 2010.

The transit revitalization investment district in some ways works like a tax increment financing district, only it typically involves a broader area and is utilized for a host of projects, not just one.

Projects that would be part of the new investment district include the $120-million plus Bakery Square 2.0 office and residential development; a $30 million project to convert the Highland and Wallace buildings into apartments; and the proposed conversion of the former Governor's Hotel and other buildings into a 137-room boutique hotel.

Under the plan, 75 percent of the property and parking tax revenue would be used to support improvements within the district's boundaries and the other 25 percent would go to the city, the Pittsburgh school district and Allegheny County.

Over 20 years, the district would generate an estimated $22.4 million from tax revenues to support the improvements, which include infrastructure related to the proposed Eastside III transit-oriented development; Obama Academy and Highland Avenue pedestrian enhancements; East Busway-related maintenance; and public art and plaza projects.

"It's a great way to work on a districtwide basis as opposed to an individual project," said Steve Mosites, president of the Mosites Co., which is proposing a 360-unit apartment complex that would be built around a $52 million transit center project that includes the busway.

In the first phase, tax revenues would be used to support $13.2 million in financing to fund the various improvements.

The city, the school district and the county must approve the investment district implementation plan. They, as well as the Port Authority, would become voting members of an investment district redevelopment authority that would oversee implementing the plan. It would be headed by the URA executive director.

The $5.6 million Fifth Avenue Pub and Lofts project, meanwhile, involves conversion of the Uniforms USA building at 1014 Fifth into 10 market rate apartments on the upper floors. A 10,371-square-foot restaurant and pub, known as the Blue Line Grille, will occupy the first floor. It will be owned and operated by Kevin Nord, president of Pro Towels Etc. of O'Hara, and James "Doc" Mendelson, who owned and operated Doc's Place Bar and Restaurant on Walnut Street in Shadyside for more than 25 years.

neigh_city - businessnews

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


Create a free PG account.
Already have an account?