Developer eyes Dormont apartment project

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A developer wants to build a five-story, 240-unit apartment building on the park-n-ride lot next to the Dormont Junction Light Rail Transit station.

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A Port Authority committee on Wednesday approved a one-year exclusive negotiation period with Fore Property Co., a national developer of multifamily housing.

Fore is proposing a $39.8 million project called "The Junction" on West Liberty Avenue. It includes a three-level, 500-space parking garage. At least 165 spaces would be reserved for park-n-ride patrons (equal to the number of spaces on the existing surface lot) and other spaces would be for tenants and customers of nearby businesses.

The authority expects that about $10 million in public funding will be needed for the project, representing about two-thirds of the garage cost, said Michael Cetra, general counsel. A portion of that would come from tax-increment financing, a method of using anticipated future taxes from a development to underwrite construction borrowing.

Fore Property, based in Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas, would lease the site from the authority and Dormont Borough for 52 years, with five 10-year options. The annual rent for the first five years would be $188,845.

The developer's proposal "included several design elements to incorporate the apartment community and structured parking into the adjacent transit system," according to a narrative provided to the authority's Planning and Stakeholder Relations Committee. Mr. Cetra said it was too early to know details of how the project will be linked to the station.

Officials cautioned that the process of negotiating a lease, assembling financing and obtaining public approvals will be complicated and could take more than a year. Because some of the property is owned by the authority, it must obtain approval for the project from the Federal Transit Administration.

A tax-increment financing plan would require approvals of Allegheny County, the borough and Keystone Oaks School District.

Once everything is in place, it would take about a year to build the complex. Fore said it expects the project to qualify for LEED certification as environmentally friendly.

The authority also is pursuing housing development at two other sites in the south suburbs, the Castle Shannon park-n-ride lot and a former parking lot next to the South Hills Village garage.

Jon Schmitz: or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at Twitter: @pgtraffic.

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