One Pittsburgh official is urging more city action in the redevelopment of the Civic Arena site, but the Pittsburgh Penguins maintain that they have a plan.
Known as affectionately as “The Igloo” by many, Civic Arena hosted the Penguins from 1967-2010. The months-long demolition process of the arena was completed in March 2012, clearing way for potential development across the street from the Penguins’ new home, which is now known as PPG Paints Arena.
Though the 28-acre parcel of the former Civic Arena is publicly-owned, but the development rights for the property are controlled by the Penguins. At this point, the site remains a parking lot for PPG Paints Arena, which is a point of contention for Pittsburgh councilman R. Daniel Lavelle.
Lavelle has introduced a measure that would permit solicitor Lourdes Sanchez-Ridge to explore ways for a public body to request proposals for the site. Lavelle, who acknowledges the unlikelihood of pulling the development rights from the Penguins, says the motion comes as a result of frustration from community members who were expecting development to take place.
The Penguins, however, insist that they are continuing to work to redevelop the site. More from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Travis Williams, the Penguins chief operating officer, said the team has been making headway on multiple fronts.
It and developer McCormack Baron Salazar are close to signing a letter of intent to buy the first two parcels of land needed for the start of a proposed 1,200-unit residential development, Mr. Williams said.
The Penguins and McCormack Baron also are working on a plan to advance funding in anticipation of future tax revenue to be generated by a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act district at the site to help accelerate investment in the Middle and Upper Hill District.
Part of the LERTA proceeds, an estimated $20 million, is to go into a reinvestment fund that would be used to subsidize capital improvements in those sections of the Hill.
Mr. Williams said the Penguins also have selected a minority developer to work with McCormack Baron and are in discussions with a potential retail and entertainment developer.
The Penguins maintain that they are acting within the bounds of extensions on the plan that have been granted. Nothing has been done to this point about Lavelle’s motion, which will not be discussed by the city council until at least next week.