The Hunt Armory. Courtesy City of Pittsburgh.

Last week, the long-held dream of some Pittsburghers to have a public indoor skating rink within the city limits moved a few steps closer to reality.

On Aug. 1, the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) awarded the city a $1 million grant to turn the historic Hunt Armory in Shadyside in a mixed-used work, retail and, above all, recreation facility.

The 90,000-square-foot armory sits in a densely populated residential area of the city, bordered by Alder, Emerson and Walnut streets and Carron Way. The building was home to the 28th Infantry of the Army National Guard until 2013. Past guests included Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, and musical acts as varied as Duke Ellington in 1945 and Led Zeppelin in 1969.

Plans to bring new life to the historic structure have been in the works since the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) bought the building in 2015, with design concepts and development partners changing several times along the way.

Currently, Mosites Company and developer B. Lafe Metz are collaborating with the city and the URA on the project, which is estimated to cost $32 million.

Once completed, the new and improved complex will be centered around two skating rinks — an NHL regulation-sized rink and a smaller, 100-by-60-foot rink.

In addition, “the budget includes many community assets, including 23,855 sq. ft. of office space, 142,210 sq. ft. of parking (116 spaces) and retail/classroom facilities,” according to the RACP‘s announcement.

While the state money will keep the project alive, both the city and Mosites have said several times that more private partners will be needed to fund the rest of the project. According to local media reports in the past several years, developers are in active discussions with Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Penguins about taking a formal role in the project.

And Mosites is hoping to raise additional capital by selling the naming rights to the building.

Other RACP grants awarded to our city in the latest funding round include $500,000 to preserve the Homewood Coliseum and $1 million for the redevelopment of Larimer School.

“I want to thank Governor Wolf and all our city House and Senate members for delivering this RACP funding, which will be used to transform city neighborhoods all over Pittsburgh,” Mayor William Peduto said in a press release. “The City, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Housing Authority thank all their state and community partners for their commitments to these projects.”

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.