Photo by Benjamin Prisbylla.

A key catalyst for Pittsburgh’s recent development boom has been the U.S. Treasury Department’s New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC).

Pittsburgh will receive $50 million through the program this year, according to an announcement made by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Pittsburgh on Friday.

The recipients haven’t been announced, but they will include the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, and Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.’s expansion into East Liberty. The Portland-based lighting, furniture and hardware company plans a storefront, design library, coffee shop, and offices in the vacant Detectives Building, a former police station. Fifty jobs are expected to be created.

The NMTC program is intended to help “economically distressed communities” attract private capital for new developments. Of 238 applicants nationwide, only 120 had their requests granted.

The credits go to Pittsburgh Urban Initiatives (PUI), run by the URA. Since February of 2011, $188 million in NMTC funding has been awarded to Pittsburgh projects.

The URA estimates that 2,814 permanent jobs, 417 housing units and 2,344 construction jobs can be attributed to the NMTC program since then, leveraging a half-billion dollars in total projects.

Past recipients have included the long-sought Shop ‘N Save grocery store in the Hill District, East End Cooperative Ministries’ Community House, Wood Street Commons, City of Asylum and the under-construction Point Park Playhouse.

This is the sixth consecutive year that Pittsburgh has received this award, says Robert Rubinstein, acting executive director of the URA.

“While we can’t say with 100% certainty, the NMTCs provide the necessary equity to close the final funding gap on these projects, so they likely would not occur without,” said Rubinstein.

A few recent NMTC-funded development projects received honors from the Pittsburgh chapter of the Urban Land Institute’s annual 4th Annual Placemaking Awards for Excellence on Oct. 20. They included the Ace Hotel Pittsburgh, for “Catalytic Place,” which turned a long-abandoned, 100-year-old YMCA in East Liberty into an outpost of the prestigious Ace boutique hotel brand. Other awards for local development include Tower Two-Sixty at the Gardens, a mixed-use skyscraper Downtown, for “Transformative Place,” and the Masonic Temple Project for “Community Place,” part of City of Asylum’s headquarters expansion, with a restaurant, bookstore and apartments.

To find out how to qualify for NMTC funding, check out the URA website.

Michael Machosky

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife,...