Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jack Piatt of Milcraft, Others Get a Great Deal

City Council approved the sale of some land by our URA, at a significant loss, to a nebulous group of people.

UPDATE: The aforementioned Piatt contributed $10,000 to Ravenstahl for Mayor, and his company Milcraft was a Gold Sponsor of his inaugural. Does someone have time to research the other buyers?

The URA bought the parcels, bounded by Forbes Avenue, Market Place, Fifth Avenue and McMasters Way, for $6.48 million from 2002 through 2006. URA general counsel Don Kortlandt said the agency has "historically invested more in redevelopment properties than the market can." (P-G, Rich Lord)

It looks like people are content to take a pass on this*. Council voted 5-0 with three abstentions.

Lessons learned. For example, we now know the URA is fond of out-investing the market with publicly held assets -- at least on behalf of the right sorts of people.

"That's the cost of taking a bad situation and turning it into a good situation," he said. "You've got a cluster of things that are going to come to Fifth Avenue and turn it from a boarded-up, depressing place" into a vital marketplace.

Let's hope for the best. Something needs to happen in that corridor. We don't want another Tom Murphy situation. Do we?

Hey, what all is going in there? What kind of painstaking, exhaustive research went into determining what it's going to be?
*Actually, I Luv Luke provides some related prose.


  1. The city buys a property for 6.48 million, improves the property (he says "That's the cost of taking a bad situation and turning it into a good situation"), and then sells the property for 2.31 million. So the city buys property, spends money of apparently unknown amounts to make it better, and then sells the property for over a 64% LOSS. I guess it's ok to do that when you are using other people's money.

    He also says the agency has "historically invested more in redevelopment properties than the market can." Well that must be because people who survive in the "market" (I assume he means the real world by that) don't make absolutely retarded deals like this one. Anyone who did would only be able to find a job with city government shortly after they failed in the "market".

    And remember this is REAL ESTATE we are talking about, which during the time from the initial purchases (2002) until now even with the current slowing of the market, has basically gone through the roof in value.

  2. Absolutely WHAT deals? Trolleyrider, we feel that you are a Republican (correct us if we're wrong) and that's great, but this is not some kind of government stupidity. This is political collusion.

  3. retarded.

    As in you have to be economically retarded to do something like this. That is an actual word with an actual definition that can be used as an adjective without meaning mentally handicapped people. WordNet defines it as "relatively slow in mental or emotional or physical development". I obviously am describing his mental development, specifically pertaining to economic theory/knowledge. Don Kortlandt is economically handicapped.

    The fact that things like this go on show that the government has no business in the things the URA tries to do (and usually fails).

    If a private company did something like this, they are doing it with their own money. If they want to be stupid with their own money, that's up to them. When the government does it, especially a government that is on the brink of bankruptcy, they do it with your money. That is a crime.

    Can you do me a favor and figure out what % of our city's budget is $4.17 million??? That was the loss on the property not including whatever they did to improve the property so it could be sold. I assume we'll never know what that amount is.

  4. Good points in re: vocabulary.

    More analysis:

  5. when has the ura ever brokered a deal which was fiscally responsible and economically good for the region?

    rick b.

  6. Bram thanks for the links, same to 2party...

    Still curious, do you know off the top of your head what the city budget is for 2008?

  7. I found this pdf of the city budget:

    and in the summary it says that the 2008 budget is estimated at $423,755,325. That puts the $4,170,000 lost on this deal at over 1% of the operating budget of the city of Pittsburgh for 2008!! Amazing.