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Languishing Century III Mall could reap refunds

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By The The Tribune-Review
Saturday, April 25, 2009

Maintaining a lower assessment and getting a refund of tax payments could be in the works for Century III Mall in West Mifflin.

The Board of Viewers in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court held a hearing Thursday on the assessment for the 1.29-million-square-foot mall, which will apparently stand at $66 million. That assessment is a 40 percent reduction from the previous $112 million. Prior to that, the mall was valued at $128 million.

The mall has been plagued with vacant storefronts, restaurants and kiosks among about 130 operating businesses.

"We are awaiting for the Board of Viewers' verdict to be issued, which may take a week or more," said Jack Cambest, solicitor for the West Mifflin Area School District's board of directors.

The school district and borough had appealed the lower assessment to the board.

Cambest said the lower assessment applies to tax years 2006 through 2009.

All three taxing bodies, including Allegheny County, might have to make refunds to the mall, part of the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group.

"There's a proposal for a settlement, but I did not commit the borough to anything," borough Solicitor Michael Adams said. "There are numbers on the table, but I have to take them back to the borough and present them."

There is an estimate that the refund could be as much as $1.5 million for each year.

"I heard it was a very significant amount of money," said West Mifflin Council President William Welsh Jr.

A spokesman for Simon Property Group declined to comment, saying the company doesn't comment on mall assessments. Century III Mall Manager Gina Mercorelli also declined to comment.

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