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Castle Shannon Council backs loan for apartment complex

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Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 8:55 p.m.

Castle Shannon Council has backed a tax-subsidized loan that would be provided to a proposed apartment complex at Port Authority's Castle Shannon park-and-ride, clearing another hurdle for a project more than a decade in the making.

On Monday, council voted 4-0 to support the loan, which would contribute as much as $4 million toward the $35 million Transit Village project. JRA Development of the Strip District wants to construct the complex above the 6.6-acre parking lot at the Castle Shannon light rail station on Castle Shannon Boulevard.

Vince Smith, Jean O'Malley and Nancy Kovach were absent.

“This will be the first (transit-oriented) development of this magnitude in Western Pennsylvania, and it's long overdue,” said council Vice President Michael Warhold, who ran the meeting in the absence of council President Kovach.

Maurice Strul, assistant director of special projects and financing at the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, said the loan — repaid through property taxes in an arrangment known as tax increment financing — and other publicly backed loans and grants would help pay for about $12.82 million in infrastructure work. That includes shoring up an abandoned coal mine beneath the property; improving nearby roads; relocating an old sewer line; building a parking deck above the existing lot so that retail and an 128-unit apartment building are at street level; and building stairs and elevators for commuters.

The tax-increment financing loan that Castle Shannon backed requires that some infrastructure costs be repaid with 75 percent of the property tax revenue that the development generates.

The other 25 percent would go to the borough and the Keystone Oaks School District. Both would get to keep earned income taxes paid by the building's residents.

Strul estimated that the borough would reap about $30,000 a year while the loans are being repaid and the Keystone Oaks School District would get about $71,000 a year. That amount would increase to $121,000 and $284,000, respectively, when the TIF plan expires.

The borough would take in permit and inspection fees during construction.

“I think the tempo is picking up for the attractiveness of transit living, of transit-oriented development,” said developer James Aiello Sr., who calls his plan Castle Shannon Village.

The TIF plan requires approval of the school district, which will consider it during its meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 15. There will be a public hearing before final votes by the Allegheny County Council.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or

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