Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ura, Sea Clear Way for Development Arena Site Largest Tif in City History

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ura, Sea Clear Way for Development Arena Site Largest Tif in City History

Article excerpt

The Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority took the first steps Thursday toward creating the largest tax diversion district in the city's history as part of the proposed redevelopment of the former Civic Arena site.

At the same time, the URA board and the city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority, in separate actions, gave the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team another year to get started on the development.

URA board members unanimously gave authorization Thursday to develop a preliminary tax increment financing plan that is to serve as the centerpiece of efforts to use the arena redevelopment as a stimulus for the entire Hill District and adjacent Uptown.

The TIF plan will cover all of the Hill District and Uptown - 1,178 acres in all, making it the largest such district in the city's history.

Under the plan, 65 percent of the new property tax revenue generated by the residential, office and commercial development being proposed by the Penguins for the arena site in the lower Hill will be diverted to pay for improvements in other parts of the Hill and Uptown.

It will produce an estimated $22 million to $50 million in revenue over its 20-year life.

Robert Rubinstein, URA acting executive director, said the TIF is unique not only in the size of the district but in the types of things the money can be used for, including grants for housing down payments and closing costs and property stabilization.

The tax increment financing plan was part of a broad agreement reached earlier this week between local political and Hill leaders on issues like community reinvestment, affordable housing, and minority participation that cleared the way for the redevelopment to move forward.

"In some sense, this makes up for the mistakes of the last century," said Kevin Acklin, URA board chairman and chief of staff to Mayor Bill Peduto, referring to the devastation of the lower Hill by the construction of the Civic Arena in the early 1960s. …

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