Paging Henry George
The LERTA is actually just one tax abatement program impacting some city neighborhoods. There exists a separate program that abates the tax on investments in residential investment in 28 city of Pittsburgh neighborhoods.
Want to make a real impact on the future growth of Pittsburgh? There is something we almost have to try at some point. My point a few years ago was to make the city's tax abatement universal!
There is no real reason not to. The argument against expandng it city-wide is that the city might forgo some new incremental tax revenues on new residential investment going on in the non-tax-abated neighborhoods. Guess what? The level of non-subsidized residential construction within the city of Pittsburgh is about as low as it can get. In fact, most new housing in the City in the last decade have come entirely from Summerset and all the highly subsidized housing stock Downtown. That's it pretty much. I am not sure we have any more slag heaps needing redevelopment, and there isn't much new money for more condo subsidization, so what does the future hold for the future of housing in Pittsburgh? Without any incremental jumps in property tax in the pipeline the cost of expanding the abatement program across the city are limited. Yet the benefits could be spurring a new level of investment in residential construction or improvements that really are key to ever get the city of Pittsburgh population decline to itself abate.
To abate, or not to abate? It all depends what you want to abate.
Philly's tax abatement program has been credited with a revival in residential housing in Philadelphia and the census shows that Philadelphia's population trend has literally reversed over the last decade. At the same time Pittsburgh's popualtion continues to drop rapidly. The presence of children is a decent proxy for future household population in the City of Pittsburgh, and the trend there is worse than the overall popualtion trend. Bottom line, if the city does not build out a housing stock attractive to new families then there is no reason to think the city's population trend will reverse any time soon.
There has never been a place that has less to lose and more to gain from an omnibus tax abatement on new residential real estate investments than Pittsburgh.
OK, maybe we do have some other slag heaps out there to redevelop... but I at least am unaware of any bold initiative out there to repeat any time soon what was done with Summerset.