Local
5:29 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Bill Aims to Encourage Commercial Development in Pittsburgh

Prospective commercial developments in Pittsburgh may be given an encouraging nudge through tax abatement legislation introduced in City Council on Tuesday.

Councilman Bill Peduto's "Pittsburgh Stimulus Plan" would give budding commercial developments the same tax exemptions that residential projects enjoy.

Under the bill, both residential and commercial developments would be completely tax-free for two years, with tax obligations rising slowly for the next eight years.

Peduto said by programming commercial tax abatement to a ten-year schedule, the city would encourage new development.

"It won't, in itself, be a panacea for a lack of development, but it will provide flexibility, and in some cases, be a better way to use the tax abatement program than what's presently on the books," said Peduto.

The bill has a three-year sunset provision, which Peduto said will encourage developers to act quickly.

"After three years is up, Council can then look at it, see if it's worked, see if it's failed, and make a decision at that point," said Peduto. "What we hope is to see a lot of shovels get into the ground during those three years, get people working, [and] get projects moving."

Peduto said he expects the measure to set in motion a few prospective projects in the East End. The District 8 Councilman said some possibilities for redevelopment include the reuse of Pittsburgh Public Schools property, including Schenley High School, which may soon be sold.

"Banks will start to see the development that's occuring, and it sort of has a snowball effect, once it gets started," said Peduto.