Regarding "20 Property Owners Give Up Tax-Exempt Status" (June 26): We're writing to explain why the Urban Gardener is included in the article. The article doesn't explain 1) why our property was declared tax-exempt, and 2) whether and why we are ready and willing to pay our real estate taxes.
We started our business in 1997. The following year our site was designated a Keystone Opportunity Zone, a program that identified economically depressed areas and fostered startup businesses in them by eliminating, for up to 15 years, taxes that could make the difference between success and failure.
We started our garden center in a very depressed area. There was no commercial or retail activity; our site was a gas station that had been vacant for years. Although there are now hints that other commercial activity might finally be seeing what we've always known -- the Brighton Road corridor is a secret for success -- we've been the lone warriors during those years.
The KOZ designation gave us the time to present our vision of what a garden center should be, in a neighborhood that was ignored but that we loved.
Thank you, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County and the city of Pittsburgh, for understanding that the small amount of taxes you were giving up enabled us to pay vendors, accountants, lawyers, etc. and the best staff (all Pittsburghers, many North Siders) we could ever hope to have. (And they all pay taxes!)
Send us the bills. We're happy to pay them.
JOAN KIMMEL and LYNNE WEBER
The Urban Gardener