PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd has put a temporary hold on the extension of several tax incentives used to encourage the development of residential and commercial property in the city.
“Actually I’m in favor theoretically of that sort of program. I just have particular questions about the targets and how they were established,” Dowd told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano.
Dowd suggests that the city can do better negotiating with developers for these tax breaks.
“There’s no reason for us as a city to grant dollars in the form of a tax abatement when we know at the same time we are going to be negotiating with a developer for the public good in matters relating to zoning and planning,” he said.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl says these incentives have made a difference in the building boom that he calls Pittsburgh’s third renaissance.
“All of these different tools have allowed us to continue this third renaissance, and it’s critically important that we recognize their significance as we look to the future,” he said. “It’s an investment the public makes.”
Delilah and Randy Rains gave up their Mt. Lebanon home to move downtown to a once vacant but now rehabilitated condo along Penn Avenue in the Cultural District — with a special 10-year reduction in property taxes.
“The basic attraction for us down here was to live in the Cultural District and to be downtown, but the incentive or the benefits of having the tax abatement just made the decision that much easier,” said Randy Rains.
The Otto Milk Building in the Strip, now 60 condo units, is another example of why Ravenstahl hopes council will extend these tax breaks.
“They’ve been critically important. The tax abatement program, for example, has allowed 13 developments to happen,” added Ravenstahl.