Mayor wants to move Tow Pound to South Pittsburgh
April 7, 2009
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced that, pending City Council approval, the City's Strip District Tow Pound operations will be turned over to McGann and Chester, LLC. The move is part of the mayor's plan to promote development along riverfronts, and will put two more police officers on neighborhood patrol.
“For years, we've talked about moving this facility away from the riverfront,” Mr. Ravenstahl said. “Now, we're setting the stage for vibrant development that builds upon our natural assets and reconnects our neighborhoods to our riverfronts.”
The mayor introduced legislation to council authorizing the city to enter into a professional services agreement to permit McGann and Chester, LLC to take over the city's towing and storage services at zero cost to taxpayers. Moving the pound would make available approximately 1½ acre of prime riverfront land, or a little more than the size of a football field, and be a key part of the city's Allegheny Riverfront Masterplan. Service would be expanded to include 24-hour-a-day access, with a location outside the southern end of the Liberty Tunnels and within walking distance to transit links.
Historically, the city's tow pound has operated as a “breakeven center.” In 2008, the pound generated approximately $1.2 million. This revenue was offset by approximately $1.1 million in contractual and fuel surcharges fees, as well as $433,000 in personnel costs. In addition, the city would have had to put more than $200,000 in required infrastructure repairs.
In April 2008, the mayor announced that the city would be bidding out the facility. McGann and Chester, LLC submitted the only bid, but the city was unable to make an award due to the complexity of the services required. Last October, the city issued a second RFP and received proposals from two vendors, McGann and Chester, LLC, and Ferra Automotive Services.
After evaluation, the committee unanimously recommended the award be made to McGann and Chester, but the award was put on hold following a thorough Police Bureau investigation regarding the tow pound's auction processes.
The mayor believes that the significant investments in riverfront parks and amenities, as well as the breadth of private investment happening in the Strip District and Downtown, presents an opportunity for more development along the Allegheny Riverfront. A Riverfront Masterplan will better guide strategic investment and reconnect riverfronts to neighborhoods. The city's URA last month entered into a contract with Perkins Eastman to conduct a strategic Riverfront Masterplan for the 6.45 mile segment, stretching from the Strip District to Highland Park. The blueprint, will be incorporated into, and serve as a model for, the city's comprehensive riverfront master plan, scheduled for completion in 2010.