Norwin Towne Square developer seeks tax abatement
A North Huntingdon developer reconstructing Norwin Towne Square hopes to get a tax break from the township and school district for five years while it rebuilds portions of the shopping center and fills its storefronts.
Don Torosky, a partner in North Huntingdon-based Colony Norwin LLC, said his company struck a tentative agreement with officials of the Norwin School District, which reaps the majority of the property taxes, for a 100-percent tax abatement for five years on the portions of the property being improved.
John Wilson, director of business affairs at Norwin School District, said school officials collected $145,000 in taxes from the shopping center during the 2011-12 school year.
The tax abatement savings will be determined after the property is reassessed by the Westmoreland County Tax Assessment offices, Wilson said.
“As Colony Norwin receives occupancy permits for portions of the building, the county will assess those portions, and the abatement can start,” Wilson said. “If they do not receive an occupancy permit until the end of the project, the assessment by the county will take place then and the abatement will start all at one time.”
Township manager John Shepherd said before the tax abatement is granted, the commissioners must designate the property as a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, or LERTA, zone. That allows Norwin School District to grant Colony Norwin LLC the tax abatement, he said.
The LERTA program offers tax abatements to new development and rehabilitation programs.
Before designating Norwin Towne Square as a LERTA district, Shepherd said the commissioners must hold a public hearing prior to the Oct. 17 voting meeting and take a final vote.
Norwin School District officials would be able to vote on granting the tax abatement in November, Shepherd said, before getting final approval from Westmoreland County officials.
“Any of the three taxing bodies can say ‘no,'” Shepherd said. “But my understanding is the county usually moves forward when the municipality and school district agree.”
Colony Norwin LLC finalized the purchase of Norwin Towne Square, located at the corner of Route 30 and Lincoln Way, in June, and plans to demolish the shopping center from the former Scozio's Family Supermarket to Sun Capsule Tanning Salon.
The space along Lincoln Way would be used to make room for a new 38,000-square-foot Shop ‘n Save grocery store and more parking.
At the other end of the shopping center, developers plan to demolish from Norwin Barbershop to the vacant storefront next to Pizza Hut, and the former Flynn's Tire Center, to make way for Bob Massie Toyota along Malts Lane.
Several businesses in the portions of the plaza slated for demolition are expected to move to other locations in the shopping center.
Alexander's Athletic Club's 1,200 members were sent to nearby Blazers Fitness on Colony Drive in Irwin, Dollar General officials plan to build a new location across Route 30, China Garden restaurant will relocate to the former Parkvale Bank on Malts Lane, and the Norwin Barber and Styling Shop moved into a storefront at the Jacktown Professional Building.
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or firstname.lastname@example.org.