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Second light-rail development project in South Hills gets green light

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Demolition of office space to save $9M

Port Authority on Friday approved a plan to demolish office space at its former Manchester headquarters to save $9 million over 10 years.

Although Allegheny County and state officials in recent years urged Port Authority to return administrators to Manchester from Downtown office space that costs $1.1 million a year, agency spokesman Jim Ritchie said, “The demolition makes the most financial sense going forward.”

In a study released last year, Port Authority said continuing to rent its Heinz 57 Center office space in Downtown while demolishing the Beaver Avenue building would cost $22.8 million over the next 10 years; by comparison, it would cost $23.4 million to remain Downtown and mothball the Manchester office space, and $32.1 million to renovate the Manchester space and move back in.

Port Authority directors OK'd four contracts totaling $7.6 million for the demolition project. The heavy maintenance garage, a storage room and training areas below the office space will remain and should not be affected by the demolition work.

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By Tom Fontaine and Sam Spatter
Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, 5:12 p.m.

Developers are planning another major project around a Port Authority of Allegheny County light-rail station.

Two Strip District-based developers want to build a 128-unit, nine-story apartment building with 14,000 square feet of retail space on Port Authority property near the Castle Shannon station.

“This project will get property back on the tax rolls, Port Authority will realize revenue from leasing it to the developer, and we think it will get more people using our mass transit system,” said Dennis Davin, executive director of the Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority.

The project is expected to cost $35 million, including $12 million for a parking deck for apartment tenants and retail customers. It will not eliminate any of the more than 500 spaces at the Castle Shannon park-and-ride lot.

The project has been in the works for 12 years. Jim Aiello of JRA Development Group Inc. said he had difficulties dealing with various government entities and obtaining necessary funding.

Aiello got a boost Friday when the Redevelopment Authority authorized its staff to create a tax-increment financing plan, or TIF, for the project.

TIFs allow government agencies to borrow money for infrastructure improvements, such as building streets or sewer and water lines. Once a development is completed and a property's taxable value begins to rise, the taxing agency uses the added money to pay off the debt.

The Redevelopment Authority has not decided how much it will borrow for the Castle Shannon project, or how long it will spread out repayments.

County Council, Castle Shannon Council and the Keystone Oaks school board will have to approve the TIF. Port Authority also will need to reach terms with Aiello and his son, Jim Aiello Jr. of Aiello Development.

Last week, Port Authority and the county reached a tentative deal with Massaro Dawson Group on a $41.5 million, 320-unit apartment complex next to the South Hills Village T station in Bethel Park. Officials expect it to generate about $5.5 million over 52 years for Port Authority.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or Sam Spatter can be reached at 412-320-7843 or

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