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P3 proposal would give Capital Area Transit natural gas, green building

By , - Last modified: May 10, 2013 at 4:41 PM

A public-private partnership proposal that Capital Area Transit received from a Pittsburgh-area developer would give the Harrisburg authority a headquarters capable of handling 200 buses, complete with compressed natural gas fueling stations for its CNG buses and green-certified construction, CAT spokesman Robert Philbin said today.

Wexford, Pa.-based Fine Lines Development Services approached CAT recently about the possible P3 agreement to build the new operations center and the authority board reviewed that Monday, Philbin said.

However, he stressed the proposal has no approvals and would have to go before multiple reviews at the local and state level, including the state’s newly created P3 board.

“It’s just a preliminary discussion,” Philbin said.

The proposal is for a 339,000-square-foot facility with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, silver-level certified construction. The facility would accommodate CAT’s bus fleet with room to grow, as well as provide for administration, operations and maintenance functions.

Philbin did not have a cost projection, but if such an idea is approved, Fine Lines Development or a similar company would build the operations center at no cost to CAT, he said.

CAT would then lease the building from the company over a defined time period, 30 years for example, Philbin said. The company would maintain the property and build its profit into the lease, turning the facility over to CAT at the end of the contract.

In that way, the P3 would function similar to a new construction mortgage with the company being both the financier and the developer by investing its own money. Philbin likened it to parking garage lease agreements, similar to deals proposed for Harrisburg’s garages. Philbin formerly was a city spokesman.

“It’s a lot of careful contracting,” he said, “but in principle it brings private money into the public sector.”

Although Fine Lines Development has proposed it, Philbin said, any approved project would be bid out, and there’s the possibility for other companies to propose similar projects.

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