Remember history in weighing Strip proposal
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After a lengthy legal dispute, the Port Authority had to pay $5.7 million to Buncher Co. interests in 1999 for a narrow, 4-mile-long strip of an abandoned railroad line in order to build the West Busway.
Several years later, a court awarded $6 million to Buncher for 4.6 acres across from Station Square so the authority could connect West Carson Street with the former Wabash Tunnel for construction of an HOV facility and parking lot.
The eminent domain proceedings cost the transit agency (i.e., taxpayers) nearly $12 million and resulted in a 25-to-1 investment return for Buncher, which had paid $463,000 for the old, unused railroad properties.
Now, a decade or so later, the Buncher Co. comes hat in hand, wanting $50 million in tax-increment financing from the city and its Urban Redevelopment Authority for a "Riverfront Landing" project in the Strip District.
With money as the bottom line, Buncher should be treated the same as it has treated others.
Meanwhile, Allegheny Valley Railroad claims to own a narrow strip of an abandoned railroad line through the 55-acre development site that Buncher proposes to develop.
The right-of-way has long been considered for commuter rail service to Downtown. It should be preserved for such future use.
That is, unless Buncher Co. is willing to buy the easement for 25 times as much as Allegheny Valley Railroad paid for it.
First Published July 10, 2012 12:00 am