County might extend tax-free zone

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Blair County commissioners are interested in extending a tax break program that could pave the way for Logan Township to sell its former municipal building and surrounding grounds.

Altoona-Blair County Development Corp. Executive Vice President Pat Miller asked commissioners Tuesday for their support to extend the Keystone Opportunity Zone designation through Dec. 31, 2020. Otherwise, the tax break program designed to attract and encourage development will expire at the end of the year.

Commissioners indicated an interest in granting Miller’s request but delayed voting until a public hearing is scheduled to address the inclusion of the 173 undeveloped acres at the DeGol Industrial Center in Frankstown Township. That site was initially entered into the program by ordinance so commissioners have to follow specific procedures to amend the ordinance.

Miller also asked that the seven-year tax break extension apply to two additional sites, both in Altoona.

They include the 4.41-acre site of the former Logan Township municipal building, 800 39th St., and the 2.28-acre site on the grounds of the South Altoona Business Park, which houses the Devorris Center for Business Development and the ABCD headquarters.

Miller said two potential buyers have shown interest in Logan Township’s site, and a Georgia-based firm is interested in the South Altoona Business Park site.

Logan Township Supervisor Ed Frontino, who was at the commissioners meeting, declined to identify the potential buyers but confirmed the interest.

“We’ve got two interested parties,” Frontino said. “But it’s contingent upon the KOZ being extended.”

That decision will rest with the state Department of Community and Economic Development, which administers the program, based on the application Miller is preparing, along with supportive letters from the commissioners and other local governmental bodies.

Miller said Altoona City Council and the Altoona Area school board have agreed to the seven-year tax break extension applicable to the Altoona properties. The Hollidaysburg Area school board and Frankstown Township supervisors are responsible for votes applicable to the DeGol Industrial Center site.

If the KOZ is extended, Logan Township will put the property up for bid, Frontino said.

That didn’t work four years ago, when supervisors rejected bids because all were too low.

But the economy has improved some since then, Frontino said, and as long as the township owns the property, it will never be on the tax rolls.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.