North Huntingdon commissioners declare Norwin Towne Square blighted
North Huntingdon commissioners on Thursday declared Norwin Towne Square, the 1950s-era plaza on the west end of the township, blighted and deteriorated.
In making that designation, commissioners unanimously approved a tax abatement program, called LERTA, the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance act.
Now that the property has been deemed blighted, the two other taxing bodies — Norwin School District and Westmoreland County — can consider the tax abatement plan.
The LERTA agreement declares new construction or improvements at the site 100 percent tax exempt for five years.
“For redeveloping deteriorated property, it's a great tool for us,” John Shepherd, township manager said.
The program allows the developer to spend any increase in taxes on development instead, Shepherd said.
The tax abatement applies to improvements at the site, and it excludes the actual land value, said Don Tarosky, a partner at Colony Norwin LLC, which owns the property.
Work has begun on the plaza located along Route 30 between Malts Lane and Lincoln Way. Plans for Norwin Towne Square include demolishing part of the plaza, adding a grocery store and building a car dealership.
Tarosky told commissioners that every part of the structure will be redeveloped and little is salvageable.
“If there's a definition of blight in this township,” he said, “it is Norwin Towne Square.”
And that property, he said, is “dead center in the township.”
“We hope a year from now everybody will look there and be proud,” Tarosky said.
Tarosky said the company has worked on the LERTA proposal with Norwin School District and the county's redevelopment authority.
If the property would have continued to deteriorate, Tarosky said, tax assessment would have continued to drop as well.
“It's a win-win,” he said. “That's why you do it.”
The Shop ‘n Save planned for the site will be complete by the end of 2013. The car dealership planned for the Square will likely be complete in summer or fall 2013.
Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.