After nearly a decade of false starts, the puck drops this fall.
On Friday morning, the Pittsburgh Penguins officially announced their master plan for the redevelopment of the 28-acre parking lot located across the street from PPG Paints Arena in the lower Hill District.
“There is development momentum across the city, and our development is the center of energy that reconnects the Hill District with Downtown, and creates an economic and investment engine that will deliver millions in direct investment into the community,” said David Morehouse, president and CEO of the Penguins.
Architecture firms Gensler and OHM advisors collaborated on the overall plan. Partners on the construction include the Delaware-based Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG) and the local Intergen Real Estate Group.
Here’s a breakdown of the plan:
— Intergen will break ground on 250 units of rental housing sometime this fall, the first of a projected 5oo units. Per the agreement with the city, 20 percent of the units will be affordable for Pittsburghers making 80 percent of the area median income.
— Starting in winter of 2019, BPG will begin construction for office and retail space along Centre Avenue. While discussions with potential tenants are ongoing, the plan projects 200,000 square feet of offices with 50,000 square feet of retail.
— Not one, but two new public parks are included. The first will be the Cap Connection Park to link the site with the sections of the Hill District currently cut off by Crosstown Boulevard, which is a long-term project of the Sports & Exhibition Authority. This connection will lead to another four-acre public park along Wylie Avenue.
The site will also include a variety of spaces for local small businesses, such as a food hall with a rotating cast of local chefs and several small kiosks dedicated to incubating small businesses throughout the development.
According to company estimates, the project will create 3,000 permanent jobs, 4,000 construction jobs and spur $750 million in private investment. And $25 million in tax revenues from the project will be steered to the Greater Hill District Reinvestment Fund, a community development organization founded in 2015.
While the parking lot is owned by the Sports & Exhibition Authority and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Penguins have exclusive development rights through an option agreement that was made in 2007 as part of the franchise’s lease negotiations for the CONSOL Energy Center (now PPG Paints Arena).
“I am excited about the place that we are in; after years of planning and negotiations, I believe we are now poised to realize the great potential of the redevelopment of the Lower Hill District,” said Councilman Daniel Lavelle in a statement. “Not only will we be able to physically reconnect the Lower Hill to Downtown, but more importantly, there is now a team in place that understands and prioritizes the social and economic reconnection of the two communities.”
The future of the parking lot has been an ongoing source of controversy, especially among long-time Hill District residents.
“We have a Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan (CCIP) in place and a CCIP Executive Committee comprised of Hill District community development leaders, and they have been working very hard for several years to bring us to this moment,” said Kevin Acklin, a project lead and former chief of staff for Mayor Peduto. “It has helped us focus on the important investments that will make this project as successful as possible for everyone in our community.”