Though the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh Board approved committing $500,000 toward a $21 million project that will bring 47 new units of affordable housing to Pittsburgh’s North Side, the Nov. 9 board meeting was dominated by what it didn’t approve—the renegotiated development deal between the city and the Pittsburgh Penguins to bring housing, office, business and entertainment space to the former Civic Arena site in the lower Hill District.
The board unanimously tabled any action until the members could go through the revised deal—which was still being tweaked the day before—in detail during an executive session before bringing it up for a vote again, Nov. 15. The Sports and Exhibition Authority (SEA) of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County had approved the revised agreement earlier that day.
In broad strokes, the new deal would eliminate $14 million in tax credits the Penguins receive to develop the 18 of the site’s 28 acres—the rest is earmarked for green space—and instead of forcing them to cede portions of the property if they delay development, the Penguins would give up parking revenue—which they have been collecting on the undeveloped site for a decade.
In exchange, the Penguins would get an additional year, until Oct. 22, 2025, to redevelop the entire site. That could be extended to 2028 under certain circumstances such as whether there’s “timely” construction of a publicly funded parking garage of up to 1,000 spaces. The Penguins can purchase two extensions at $6,000 an acre.
As for the plan itself, instead of a corporate headquarters anchoring a business, housing and retail development, the new development plan keeps the 1,000 units of housing, and 500,000 square feet of office and retail space, but will focus on turning the site into an entertainment destination with a concert venue, an outdoor movie theater, bars, restaurants and a bowling alley.
Penguins Chief Operating Officer Travis Williams said he was disappointed by the delay, especially since it had already been approved by the SEA.