Riverlife Leads PA Waterfront Development Tax Credit Expansion
Bipartisan support of the expansion from the PA General Assembly will allow the Waterfront Development Tax Credit program to catalyze $5 million of private investment annually to waterfront development projects across the Commonwealth
PITTSBURGH – The new state budget for Fiscal Year 2022-2023 includes a Waterfront Development Tax Credit expansion thanks to bipartisan support in the PA General Assembly. The expansion allows the Commonwealth to increase its annual tax credit allowance from $1.5 million to $5 million for business firms investing in waterfront development projects.
“We are thankful to the bi-partisan leadership in the Senate and House, the members of the legislature, and the Wolf administration for expanding the Waterfront Development Tax Credit program to $5 million,” said Matthew Galluzzo, President and CEO for Riverlife, “This expansion will provide a robust corpus and catalyst for waterfront development organizations to raise additional public and private investments. In addition, the program provides an opportunity for contributing business firms to build strong civic relationships and make visible investments in the towns and cities where they do business. This is a great example of public/private partnerships in action.”
Increasing the cap on the tax credit program was spearheaded by Senator Devlin Robinson, Senator Jay Costa in the Senate and Representative Natalie Mihalek and Representative Dan L. Miller in the House.
“Our region’s waterfronts offer endless opportunities for economic development and public recreation, which contribute to the livelihood of our municipalities and small businesses,” said Representative Mihalek. “Expanding this tax credit is clearly a win-win because it will spur even more investment and translate to more jobs, stronger communities and increased tourism.”
“The success of this initiative is clear, with long term benefits to the public and private sector alike,” said Representative Miller, “Given its strong track record and the litany of additional projects awaiting expansion opportunities, now was the time to double down and I was glad to be part of the bipartisan team to get this done.
The Waterfront Development Tax Credit program through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) encourages private investment in projects that create public access to the waterfront. These projects bring layered public benefits including job creation, adjacent investment, and increased property values, enhanced recreational opportunities, multi-modal transit improvements, and resilience in the face of flooding and other risks.
“Pennsylvania’s rivers, lakes, and creeks offer substantial opportunities for economic development and public recreation for both residents and visitors,” said Senator Robinson, “Despite the desire to enhance waterfront areas, access to sufficient funding presents a formidable obstacle.”
Pittsburgh’s riverfront redevelopment success story has been at the center of expansion talks as one powerful example of how investment in waterfronts across Pennsylvania has significant positive economic, recreational, and environmental impact on the Commonwealth. Riverlife, the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit, led a coalition to create the original legislation in 2016. The organization received funding through the program in 2021 to support its restoration project at Allegheny Landing in Pittsburgh’s North Shore. It has once again led a bipartisan effort to expand the program.
“Because the Pittsburgh region is blessed with an abundance of waterfront areas with a great deal of potential as family, entertainment and business venues, I got involved in advocating for the creation of the original program as a way to provide the proper economic development tools to entice partners who are willing to invest in significant redevelopment efforts along our waterways,” said Senator Costa, “This incentive has proven itself as an important device that helps attract and generate new business opportunities and I’m pleased we are now able to build upon this important investment.”
The Waterfront Development Tax Credit expansion was authorized by Act 53 of 2022, which was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on July 8, 2022. The increase takes effect in Fiscal Year 2022-2023. All eligible waterfront development organizations and projects must be approved by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).
About the Waterfront Development Tax Credit Program
The Waterfront Development Tax Credit Program provides tax credits to business firms that give financial contributions to designated waterfront development organizations who are undertaking waterfront development projects. The program encourages private investment in waterfront property across the Commonwealth that creates or improves public access to water, increases property values, restores ecology, and catalyzes further financial investment and job creation. The program allows tax credits of 75% of the total contribution made by a business firm to a waterfront development organization during a taxable year. More information may be found at https://dced.pa.gov/programs/waterfront-development-tax-credit-program-wdtc/.
Since 1999, Riverlife has worked to create, activate, and celebrate Pittsburgh’s riverfronts. A nonprofit leader in building a community vision for Pittsburgh’s riverfronts, Riverlife has overseen a $132 million investment in the city’s waterfront transformation, catalyzing $4.2 billion in related economic development, arts and culture spending, and ecological sustainability on or adjacent to the city’s riverbanks. We center our work on the belief that the riverfronts belong to everyone, and world-class riverfront experiences can be created for all using community-driven, equitable development and high-quality, regenerative design. For more information, visit www.riverlifepgh.org.