• Turn Brown to Green
  • February 25, 2015 | Author: John F. Lushis
  • Law Firm: Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A. A Professional Corporation - Allentown Office
  • The West Hills Business Center, located at the New Smithville interchange of I-78 in western Lehigh County, is one of the Lehigh Valley’s newest industrial parks. This park, which is being developed by the Hillwood Companies based in Dallas, Texas, has already become the home for Ocean Spray’s North East warehouse operations located in a 980,000-square-foot facility. Other buildings at the business center are currently under construction, with the park ultimately consisting of five facilities, resulting in hundreds of new jobs for the Lehigh Valley and substantial new tax revenues for the Township, the school district, and Lehigh County.

    In order to proceed with the development and to procure necessary permits, Hillwood agreed to make certain public infrastructure improvements. These improvements include the replacement of the Route 963 bridge over I-78 to meet current federal highway standards, entrance and exit ramp improvements and the total upgrade of the Lehigh County Authority’s wastewater treatment facility, which serves the Weisenberg Township Elementary School and local businesses.

    To assist with the payment of these public improvements, Hillwood requested that Lehigh County Industrial Development Authority (LCIDA) serve as a conduit for tax increment financing (TIF) under Pennsylvania’s Tax Increment Financing Act. In connection with this TIF, LCIDA is selling bonds to investors with the proceeds of the bonds being used to pay for a portion of the infrastructure improvements. Weisenberg Township, Lehigh County and the Northwestern Lehigh School District have pledged a portion of the incremental tax revenues realized from the increase in the assessed value of the property after it is developed to pay the debt service on the bonds.

    As solicitor to LCIDA, Norris McLaughlin & Marcus has played a key role in the implementation of the TIF. Most notably, NMM assisted with the procurement of approvals from the taxing bodies, the development of the plan for the TIF, the public offering of the bonds, and the finalization of numerous legal documents. The West Hills TIF is one of several TIFs with respect to which NMM has been or is involved.

    For developers of retail, commercial and industrial facilities that require the construction of public infrastructure improvements, a TIF presents a potentially viable option to offset costs where the TIF improvements benefit the local communities and municipalities from traffic improvement to create well-paying jobs, as well as substantial new tax revenue from the increased value of the improved real estate.