Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ltv Site in Hazelwood Gets Later Start Date for Financing

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ltv Site in Hazelwood Gets Later Start Date for Financing

Article excerpt

Development has been slow to materialize at the former LTV Coke Works in Hazelwood, prompting the city Urban Redevelopment Authority board Thursday to delay the start of special financing to help fund improvements at the site.

Three years after a tax increment financing plan of up to $80 million was approved for the 178-acre Monongahela River site, members authorized an amendment that pushes back the implementation date to Jan. 1, 2017.

Robert Rubinstein, URA acting executive director, told the board the reason for the change was simple enough - no development has occurred, meaning there has been no need to issue any tax increment-related debt.

The spacious riverfront tract, owned by a consortium of local foundations known as Almono LP, is considered one of the premier development sites in the city and the key to revitalizing the struggling Hazelwood neighborhood.

But thanks in part to a number of challenges, development has been slow in coming.

Uber Technologies, the San Francisco-based ride sharing company, has plans to renovate an old locomotive warehouse at the site and build temporary roadways to test self-driving cars. But beyond that, no major deals have been announced.

Don Smith, president of the Regional Industrial Development Corp., which manages the site for Almono, said there are reasons for that. Permits and approvals for the development of infrastructure took longer than expected, he said.

The RIDC is still working to finish a $27 million signature boulevard that will cut through the property and to finalize a master plan with cutting-edge sustainability standards that will govern the development.

With those nearing completion, the site is "teed up and ready to go."

"In reality, the development starts now," he said.

Mr. Smith had hoped to have some deals in place by spring. The only one announced so far is Uber. He said RIDC is talking to a number of prospects, although nothing has been finalized.

"We're in discussions. It's hard to tell how close it is until it closes but there's definitely strong interest," he said.

URA board member Jim Ferlo, a former state senator and city councilman who abstained in the vote on the change in the TIF start date, said he was "not optimistic there's going to be any development," adding he lacked confidence in the foundations' ability to do such work. …

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