Mt. Lebanon eyesore persists
Another proposal for a large, vacant property at the entrance to Mt. Lebanon's main business district has fallen through with no clear replacement, and the state has been left paying $1.78 million for the developers' debt, officials said.
Mt. Lebanon Manager Steve Feller said Downtown-based Zamagias Properties went into default at the beginning of 2013 on tax-backed loans it used to purchase property at Washington and Bower Hill roads.
Because those loans were guaranteed by the Commonwealth Financing Authority, the state purchased the $1.78 million in principal and interest that the developers owed.
Zamagias gets to keep the land.
“Zamagias has no financial obligation to the state. They own the land free and clear,” said Department of Community and Economic Development spokeswoman Lyndsay Kensinger.
The most recent proposal, to build townhouses on the site, fell through last month when Mt. Lebanon's zoning board denied the developers' request for exemptions from parts of the zoning code. The deadline to file an appeal has passed.
“We haven't heard anything about an appeal, which is concerning,” said Commissioner Kelly Fraasch, who represents the ward where the property is located. “People are concerned; the property is unsightly.”
David Martens, CEO of Zamagias, declined to comment on the loan beyond calling it “a complicated situation.”
He declined to comment on any plans for the site, saying they still were being discussed.
The $3.69 million loan was backed by a tax-increment financing deal, of TIF, in 2007, under which increases in tax revenue from developing the site were to be used to pay back the debt.
But after several proposals never were built — including luxury condos, a retirement community and now townhouses — there was no new tax revenue to keep up with the payments.
Although Zamagias still owns the property, Mt. Lebanon has an option to buy back a portion of it that once was owned by the now-defunct municipal parking authority.
The state now will get any tax revenue generated by new development at the site and use that to pay down the debt, until the original TIF designation for the property expires in 2027, Kensinger said.
Neither Mt. Lebanon nor the school district lost money in the project, aside from any tax revenues that both agreed to give up as part of the financing. They continue to collect taxes on the undeveloped land.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or email@example.com.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Teens elevate Western Pa. communities with Eagle Scout projects
- Museum’s ‘Carnegie Trees’ exhibit shows ‘Winter Wonders’
- 50 years later, Vietnam vet gets his degree at Westminster
- More fear ‘tackle’ football too risky for kids
- Mt. Lebanon history center project gets OK
- eReader books also available to borrow at local libraries
- Decorated World War II veteran gets visit, gift from ex-Steeler