Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Trib: Mt. Lebanon envisions development above light rail tracks

With most of the space in Mt. Lebanon's Uptown business district developed, the township's next project is up in the air. Literally.

This fall, the municipality received a $150,000 grant from Allegheny County to do the preliminary engineering for a "lid" that could support development projects over the Port Authority light rail tracks behind the Washington Road business district, said Commercial Districts Manager Eric Milliron.

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Anonymous John Kendrick said...

Will anything be built in my lifetime?

December 28, 2010 9:58 PM  
Anonymous Jean Magazzu said...

"Because frontage on Washington Road is almost entirely taken up..." Yes, taken up, but there are SO many unoccupied spaces. I'm not opposed to this project, it sounds pretty cool. However, perhaps the focus should be on attracting tenants to the many empty storefronts.

December 29, 2010 9:52 AM  
Blogger James Fraasch said...

I sure hope so. This is perhaps the last great space of "land" in Mt Lebanon with the potential to generate significant revenue to both the school district and municipality. If we can get this right we can all breathe a little easier.

It has always been part of the plan to get this going sometime in 2012. I had a meeting with the county back in 2007 where we discussed some of the potential ideas surrounding TRID development in Mt. Lebanon. It's the perfect opportunity for us to partner with a private development company.

In this case I would happily pay a consultant a nice fee to make sure we get a cohesive and sustainable plan together before we jump in with both feet. It's not like anyone at the municipality spends all day doing TRID design. But, we do have the people there that can implement a well thought out plan.


December 29, 2010 10:48 AM  
Anonymous John Kendrick said...


If you like it, then that's good enough for me... but I wouldn't give our teachers any ideas about future revenue sources or else the Board will tax and spend the future revenue on an immediate salary increase seven times over before the first $1 is collected!

Happy New Year,

December 29, 2010 11:59 AM  
Blogger James Fraasch said...

The question becomes, "What do we develop?"

Mixed use, commercial, low or high density residential? What does Mt. Lebanon need (besides more tax revenue) that it does not have now? And, how can it compliment/enhance the businesses that already exist surrounding the T stop?

Are doing development to maximize municipal revenues and to better the community mutually exclusive or mutually beneficial?

All things to discuss and talk about.


December 29, 2010 5:08 PM  
Anonymous John Kendrick said...


Good point, and as I've said on other threads, we are paying a number of people who work for our municipality rather handsomely but these questions remain unanswered, there seems to be no plan, and our community deteriorates more as each year passes.

December 29, 2010 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently few are aware that a preliminary TRID plan for the Uptown/LRT site was completed some 18 months ago ! The national/world economic debacle put the plan on ice.

I encourage those sincerely interested to contact Keith McGill, AICP, Municipal Planner at 412-343-3684 or kmcgill@mtlebanon.org to schedule the ability to review the plan and plan files. I won't go into the specifics at this point other than to point out that a fundemental premise of the TRID law and regulations is the provision of a TRID version of tax increment financing (TIF) that would defer up to 60% of the resulting incremental real estate taxes of TIF District development to the developer(s) as a subsidy incentive...such taxes would be diverted for up to 20 years to pay for TIF financing ! In order to make the financials "work", the defined TIF District would include the hotel site, now once again rescheduled, this time for groundbreaking in Feb. 2011.

For those not familiar with TIF artificial insemination, instead of up to 60% of the new & additional real estate taxes going to the Muni & School District for 20 years, they will go net, in advance, into the coffers of the TRID developer(s). There is no "free market" at work when government development wonks contrive legislation. It will be interesting to see if the Muni will support a TRID TIF scheme...it could only work if the School District also OK's it....does this perhaps provide a clue as to why SB Pres. Posti presented her draft of proposed TIF Guidelines for discussion only a few weeks ago ? But even more importantly, a TIF scheme can only advance if a local government body approves it....Dan Miller, to his credit, was able to quash a review of a Muni Economic Development Council (EDC) proposed draft of Muni TIF Guidelines in Nov. Way to go Dan !

So before any of you openly acclaim any/all development in Lebo, please read the fine print....the devil is always in the details; and, always follow the cash !

Bill Lewis

December 30, 2010 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Empty store fronts. Sounds like an area ripe for 'another' TIF plan!
Dean Spahr

December 30, 2010 11:12 AM  
Anonymous John Kendrick said...


I've tried to contact the circus before. My calls were never returned. Eventually, I gave up. In my opinion the resources of the community are paid-for by all but available to the few with "connections".

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for something to happen. Just more "pie in the sky dreams from the Great State of Mt Lebanon".

The others on the thread have accurately noticed that the vacancy rate continues to grow. Mt Lebanon has an adverse regulatory environment, falling property values, and rising taxes. It may be a great place to teach, but it really does not make much sense to invest here, does it?

December 30, 2010 11:12 PM  
Anonymous John Ewing said...

A TIF requires that property be declared, “blighted” before it qualifies for a TIF. I remember School District Solicitor, Don Bush, attending a municipal meeting one morning and commenting that Mt. Lebanon abused the TIF law by declaring Washington Road Property blighted before it granted tax relief to two good businesses on Washington Road.

We would have needed to declare the Galleria “blighted” to grant them a TIF – what a joke that would have been.

Don Bush resigned as solicitor in 1995. It is beginning to look like we are blighted now and unable to attract any development without granting tax relief to a developer and transferring the tax load to other residents instead of using the tax assessment increment to produce more tax revenue to educate our children and pay our teachers - so much for affordable education in Mt. Lebanon.

December 31, 2010 9:00 AM  

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