Monday, May 09, 2005

Pondering Diven's statement in the PG's voter guide

State Senator, 42nd District: "Michael Diven, 35, Brookline

Education: B.A., history, minor philosophy, Duquesne University, 1993.

Occupation: State representative, 22nd District.

Qualifications: Pittsburgh City Council, three years; state representative, 22nd District, elected 1997.

Answer: I will introduce a bill in the Pennsylvania Senate which will be a vehicle to consolidate administrative office space in Downtown Pittsburgh. A study that I commissioned showed that we now have 1.1 million square feet of office space, and we can easily consolidate this into 350,000 square feet. This would increase efficiency, create construction jobs, revitalize the Downtown business corridor, and save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars that could be used to relieve the unfair burden of property taxes.

Let's start with the vehicle mention -- as in state car. Transportation issues are huge. PAT is running today with a 2-year band-aid. Let's hear something about THAT from our Harrisburg politician.

The bill to consolidate office space downtown creates a NEW AUTHORITY. I hate authorities. I hate debt. This Diven idea is a TIF on STEROIDS that jacks up debt by $50-million for Pgh and $300-million for the state. It is just about as big as 'growing greener 2' -- but it makes loft apartments. All in all, the Diven plan would KILL the city. It goes in the wrong direction on many fronts.

I have heard Diven's plan -- in depth. I wish everyone had the opportunity to hear all about it. It is a deal breaker plan.

Diven wants the state of PA with its new authority to take over the public office buildings owned by the city, county and schools. He ignores the STATE building and the FEDERAL buildings. If all the buildings were in the mix, that would be different.

Then Diven wants to build up Fifth & Forbes with parking, retail and a RIDC like office park for city, county and school buildings -- but not state or feds. This is a mega building.

Then all of the other buildings now in use by the government turn into loft apartments.

Who wants to live in the Gold Room? Who wants the Mayor's office?

I just wonder, do we get to keep the jail as it is or is that part of the mix as well?

My approach is more organic. Let us evolve in continual steps.

Do get rid of the governmental buildings -- like the PARKING AUTHORITY ASSETS. We should liquidate the parking authority, over some years. then we can lower the parking tax to 15%. There is no reason why the government needs to be building parking garages. Make the parking authority a department.

Our parking authoriy is just opening its own court room now. Overboard public project are sure to zap out all energy from the marketplace and end any type of investments from regular owners.

PNC Bank expanded to Firstside and the city was suckered (forced) into building them a new T-stop and new parking garage. That's a bad deal and it costs everyone. PNC Bank does not need to build its own parking garage for its employees because it can have the city build it for them.

Hence, no private builder is ever going to build another parking garage in downtown. There is poison in the marketplace. Investment stops. Real efforts go to other markets where the 900-pound gorilla isn't a public authority with an endless supply of money.

I have better ideas for some big projects downtown. Downtown does have serious weaknesses.

No comments: