ShareThis Page

Monroeville Mall just won a $27M tax break

Dillon Carr
| Thursday, May 10, 2018, 12:42 p.m.
The parking lot outside at Monroeville Mall.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
The parking lot outside at Monroeville Mall.

Owners of the Monroeville Mall will receive a $27 million property tax break next year and refunds from the school district, the municipality and the county topping nearly $2 million.

A special Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas master recently ruled the mall's $105 million property tax assessment has been too high for the last three years. It was lowered to $78 million.

The decision came after the mall's owner, CBL Properties, and the school district reached a settlement. The mall first appealed to the county in October 2015, according to court records. The school district and Monroeville became interested parties days after the appeal was filed.

The three taxing entities must refund CBL for tax years 2015 through 2017.

Monroeville owes the owners about $324,000, and the county will owe about $380,000.

The school district was hit the hardest. Gateway School District officials said the district will pay CBL a one-time $1 million refund out of its fund balance and lose out on $509,000 in revenue each year moving forward.

The district is working on finalizing its 2018-19 budget. The administration has proposed raising property taxes and dipping into the fund balance to fill a $1.9 million shortfall.

“Unfortunately, this is loss of revenue moving forward. We have no idea if there's going to be additional decreases in value (through appeals),” said Paul Schott, Gateway's business manager.

The district raked in more than $2 million in rebates from the mall when it was assessed at $105 million.

“It's a significant parcel — there's no doubt about it,” he said.

The municipality owes CBL about $324,000 and will lose out on $108,000 moving forward, said Monroeville's tax collector, Pat Fulkerson.

“That's not a drop in the bucket by any means,” Fulkerson said, referring to the loss in revenue. “But $108,000 ... when Westinghouse left, they were assessed I think at $48 million, and now it's down to $12 million. It's not like when they left.”

Fulkerson said he is hopeful the new assessment will bring more business to the mall because the owner's costs will drop.

“Their overhead was too high. So I thought it was a plus for everybody. I don't want (the mall) to be a ghost town,” he said.

There were about 20 vacancies out of 150 storefronts at the 1.1 million-square-foot mall at the end of 2017, CBL spokeswoman Stacey Keating said.

Chattanooga, Tenn.-based CBL Monroeville Partner LP bought the property, which is split into two parcels, for $20 million in 2009, according to county real estate records.

Keating declined to offer specifics but said the mall's first-quarter sales doubled this year compared with the same time period in 2017.

Sharon DiPaolo, an attorney at Blawnox-based Siegel Jennings Co., represented CBL. Bruce Dice of Plum-based Bruce E. Dice and associates represented the school district. Neither attorney responded to requests for comment.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.

click me