Pittsburgh City Council is planning a public hearing before they give the final stamp of approval to proposed tax abatements and exemptions for developers of the former Civic Arena site in the lower Hill District.
Councilman Daniel Lavelle, who has been instrumental in developing a plan for revitalization of the area, said developers will still be paying property taxes on the value of the land and related improvements.
“They will actually pay that into a special fund that won’t go into the city’s general fund as it normally would,” Lavelle said. “Instead, it would go into a special fund held at the URA to be used … for infrastructure needs on the site, for additional housing needs in the middle and upper Hill District, or whatever other projects are deemed necessary.”
Though it hasn’t yet been approved by City Council or discussed at a public hearing, the proposed Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA) tax credit has already been informally agreed upon by interested parties, including the Pittsburgh Penguins and development firm Clayco.
Lavelle said, hypothetically, it is possible that the community would push back or that the three bills approving the tax credit would fail to pass City Council. But he believes that scenario is unlikely.
“Hypothetically, then we’d be put in a weird predicament,” Lavelle said. “But I think everyone agrees this is the best course of action for the community, from my office, to the community I represent, to the mayor’s office, to the Urban Redevelopment Authority. We’ve all sort of come to an agreement that this makes the most sense, but we also have to have the public hearing to have the public discussion as well.”
Lavelle said the city, county, and school district all must host public hearings on the specific tax abatements and credits they plan to offer developers. Dates for those public hearings have not yet been set.