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PITTSBURGH MIRACLE MILE TOWN AND COUNTRY SHOPPING CENTER (08/02/72)

decided: August 2, 1972.

PITTSBURGH MIRACLE MILE TOWN AND COUNTRY SHOPPING CENTER, INC., TAX APPEALS


Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in cases each captioned Pittsburgh Miracle Mile Town and Country Shopping Center, Inc. v. Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of the County of Allegheny and Borough of Monroeville and Gateway School District, Intervenors, No. 1923 October Term, 1959, and No. 1632 January Term, 1966. Transferred from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, February 9, 1972.

COUNSEL

Philip Baskin, with him Baskin, Boreman, Sachs, Gondelman & Craig, for Pittsburgh Miracle Mile Town and Country Shopping Center, Inc.

John F. Murphy, Assistant County Solicitor, with him Maurice Louik, County Solicitor, for Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of the County of Allegheny.

Richard L. Rosenzweig, Borough Solicitor, with him Rosenzweig & Rosenzweig, for Borough of Monroeville.

Thomas M. Rutter, Jr., School District Solicitor, with him Goehring, Rutter & Boehm for Gateway School District.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. President Judge Bowman did not participate. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 6 Pa. Commw. Page 189]

All of the parties to this assessment case, the taxpayer, the Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County (the Board), and the local taxing bodies, appealed the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County to the Supreme Court. The appeals have been transferred here.

Involved are two triennial assessments, one for the years 1959, 1960 and 1961, and the other for the years 1965, 1966 and 1967. The taxpayer, Miracle Mile Town and Country Shopping Center, Inc., is the owner of a premises containing a total of 34.519 acres of land located in the Borough of Monroeville, which is a part of the Gateway School District. Undoubtedly because it was acquired by separate transactions, taxpayer's property was at all times relevant to this case assessed for local tax purposes by the County of Allegheny as two parcels; one containing 30.349 acres on which is located the buildings of a shopping center, and the other, an adjacent parcel of 4.17 acres, without buildings. The larger tract fronts on William Penn Highway, a four-lane major thoroughfare. The 4.17-acre tract is located at the rear of the shopping center buildings at a lower elevation, but has frontage on and access to a public highway known as Northern Boulevard. A service road provides access between the tracts.

The taxpayer appealed from the assessment of both tracts for the 1959 triennium and of the 30.349 tract only for the 1965 triennium. The 4.17-acre tract was assessed for both trienniums in the amount of $19,960. The 30.349-acre tract with buildings was assessed for the 1959 triennium at $2,445,860; and for the 1965 triennium at $2,956,950.*fn1

[ 6 Pa. Commw. Page 190]

Assessments in Second Class Counties are and were at all times pertinent to these proceedings provided by law to be made at actual value.*fn2 It was notorious that assessments in Allegheny County were not made in accordance with actual value. The predominant requirement of uniformity and the ability of some taxpayers of Allegheny County to demonstrate that their properties were in fact assessed at ratios to market value higher than those of similar properties led to two series of cases. Included in the first of these are: Deitch Co. v. Board of Property Assessment, 417 Pa. 213, 209 A.2d 397 (1965); McKnight Shopping Center, Inc. v. Board of Property Assessment, 417 Pa. 234, 209 A.2d 389 (1965); Rieck Ice Cream Co. Appeal, 417 Pa. 249, 209 A.2d 383 (1965); and H.J. Heinz Co. v. Board of Property Assessment, 417 Pa. 259, 209 A.2d 418 (1965). In this first series of cases, the Supreme Court held: (1) that real estate in Allegheny County is to be assessed at its actual value; (2) that as a practical matter properties in Allegheny County were assessed at less than market value; (3) that the Constitution of Pennsylvania, Article 9, Section 1 (now Article 8, Section 1) requires that all taxes must be uniform; (4) that uniformity means for the purpose of assessment that each taxpayer's property be assessed at the ratio fixed as the common level in ...


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