It may be August, but it sure does not feel like recess!
To differentiate the Julian month from the august dramatist, we will herein adopt the voguish lingo:
The “Augie Willy Center” has of late become a tale of deed covenants and a 25% monetary differential between dueling proposals. Yawn. It is almost enough to make one mutter: might this venture not do better if it were rooted in the historic Hill? Where dude grew up and found so much inspiration? Besides, it seems some passengers are jumping ship.
A few months ago, the Augie Willy story was a heady ferment of a renewed vision, a new corporation and a range of stakeholders. One would find it easer to root for a wholly owned and independent August Wilson Center residing in the Downtown “Cultural District” at the temporary expense of the immediate and total satisfaction of its creditors, if only that sort of promising narrative were still shining through.
Meanwhile, on a topic one neighborhood removed: Hear ye, hear ye!
The Urban Redevelopment Authority has garnered three significant development proposals for the grand old produce terminal in the Strip District! Citizens are invited to consider these plans, separately and together, tomorrow most especially at a Public Meeting!
This probably shall not be the last such meeting. Mayor Bill Peduto is alluding to “significant and good” features in each proposal, and keen on the prospects of blending residential development, retail and history in the five-block long behemoth. How about three parts worth of residential and two parts retail, we ask? Or strike that, and reverse it?
Finally today, we turn to unfinished business: refining our discussions with UPMC aimed at ameliorating public economic anomalies by balancing aggregated nonprofit tax advantages with shrewd public investments-in-lieu-of-taxes, or IILOTs.
First, a CORRECTION: The Comet was erroneous in attributing “gun to the head” rhetoric so confidently to UPMC. It would have been more accurate to attribute the sentiment to the universities, back during the fracas over an ignominiously defeated 1% tuition tax proposal. The Comet regrets how the ill-informed stylistic flourish distracted from a bedrock economic argument animating the post: that the City’s most powerful industries and dominant employers can’t afford to be so stingy with it. And we yearn for a second set of eyes.
Now, we are making progress through a discussion of medical industry IILOTs…
IILOTs from UPMC might, theoretically, help fund another subway line. Let’s not get carried away, but you get the idea.
IILOTs from UPMC might underwrite affordable housing anyplace it might be challenging but strategically important. It would be better if we exploited other means of accomplishing sufficient dignified, accessible, affordable housing — but any up-front sum might ease construction.
IILOTs from UPMC could go into affordable housing with green chazerai. “One of the main arguments for green affordable housing is that a higher upfront cost for construction/renovation can be motivated by a lower operating cost over the life-time of the building, i.e. a lower life-cycle cost,” reads Wikipedia.
IILOTs from UPMC might go into the Year-Round Youth-Plus Employment Program, because a new governmental body will soon possess an unending stream property that would benefit from maintenance.
IILOTs from UPMC might be leveraged to ease the crunch of our contracted obligations to City retirees, aggravated from the economic devastation and mass diaspora between the 50’s and 80’s. Not likely, though — many industrialists still believe that the idea of any guaranteed pensions benefit is hopelessly outdated, and many that government can never be a partner in raising the bar by making greater efficiency and more responsible decision making the New Norm.
That aside, these investments-in-lieu-of-taxes or IILOTs could mean anything!
Hopefully some time within the next year or so, Mayor Peduto and a hologram of UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff will come forward jointly in triumphantly announcing the terms of a deal along the lines we have heard. Hopefully the public won’t jump at the first offer. Hopefully we summon appropriate pressure to improve the deal, heat it and beat it, roll it and hone it, until it is of superior quality: a strong and productive accord for UPMC, the City and all its inhabitants.
And if it doesn’t work out, we can head back to the chalkboard. Hardly any downside!