The URA in the Williamson era

Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority has taken more than 90 significant actions since Sam Williamson became the chair in February 2019. Here are a dozen of the most significant.

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Construction workers pour dirt near the Produce Terminal in Pittsburgh's Strip District in late February 2019. (Photo by Kat Procyck/PublicSource)

Construction workers pour dirt near the Produce Terminal in Pittsburgh's Strip District in late February 2019. (Photo by Kat Procyck/PublicSource)

All Neighborhoods

Housing Opportunity Fund

Allocated $10 million in city tax dollars to funding affordable rental and for-sale housing, helping homeowners make repairs, helping people stay in rental housing, and helping people make down payments.

Neighborhood Initiatives Fund

Created program of small grants — no more than $100,000 — to assist nonprofit and community-based organizations with neighborhood-scale projects.

Service Workers Prevailing Wage Policy

Adopted policy under which building workers in structures backed by URA grants, specified loan products, bond financing, infrastructure improvements and below-market property sales or leases above certain thresholds get prevailing wages. Williamson spoke but abstained from the vote.

Central Business District

City's Edge

Authorized parking tax diversion to finance $4.2 million to aid in the development by Midpoint Group and the Hill Community Development Corp. of a 508-space parking garage, commercial and community space, and 110 apartments, of which 77 will be income-restricted. Total $61 million development.

Central North Side

Federal North

Approved a development proposal by Trek Development and Q Development to build apartments in the former Garden Theater block.

Chateau

Esplanade

Entered into an option agreement to sell five lots for $1.5 million to a group led by Millcraft Investments as part of a proposed $528 million mixed-use complex.

Downtown

412 Boulevard of the Allies

Approved a variety of contracts connected with the purchase, renovation and management of the former Art Institute of Pittsburgh building, now housing the URA and other city agencies.

Larimer

Former Larimer School

Granted $2.8 million — partly state funds — to the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh for the redevelopment of the former Larimer School. Stabilization and remediation costs estimated at $3.2 million.

Lower Hill District

Pittsburgh Arena Redevelopment

Authorized agreement with Pittsburgh Arena Redevelopment LP and the Sports & Exhibition Authority to clarify responsibilities of all parties regarding the development of 21.5 acres of the former Civic Arena site. Required affordable housing.

Middle Hill

New Granada Square

Sold 12 parcels, 21,207 square feet, to the development team of CHN Housing Partners, the Hill Community Development Corp., for $125,000 for commercial and 40 affordable rental apartments. Total cost $14.5 million.

Shadyside

Hunt Armory

Bought Hunt Armory from the state Department of General Services for $1 million. The earlier agreement required the URA to convey the Hunt Armory to a third party for fair market value by Dec. 31, 2019, and the state gets 80%. URA had chosen Mosites, Light and Metz as redeveloper, but because the URA wasn't going to get the deal done by that date, it renegotiated with the state and agreed to pay $1 million to buy the building outright.

Strip District

Produce Terminal

Authorized start of construction by McCaffery Interests and a $4 million tax-increment financing loan to cover Smallman Street improvements, plus the financing of as much as $1 million for the relocation of the Society for Arts in Crafts, also known as the Society for Contemporary Craft.

Source: URA board meeting minutes

This story was produced in partnership with Pittsburgh Magazine.

Rich Lord is PublicSource’s economic development reporter. He can be reached at rich@publicsource.org or on Twitter @richelord.

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