Penguins, Local Officials Reach Major Redevelopment Deal for Ex-Civic Arena Site

The Pittsburgh Penguins hockey club has reached an agreement with the City to redevelop the 28-acre site of the now-demolished Civic Arena, the team’s former home in the Hill District.

The Pittsburgh Penguins hockey club has reached an agreement with the City to redevelop the 28-acre site of the now-demolished Civic Arena, the team’s former home in the Hill District.

A controversial topic for years, the deal was announced at a press conference held on September 9. It provides for affordable housing and minority participation in the project, as well as neighborhood reinvestment.

Plans call for 1,100 housing units, with McCormick, Baron and Salazar as the lead residential developer, 500,000- to 600,000-square feet of office space and another 250,000 square feet of retail space, mostly neighborhood serving and complementary to the arena.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one of the main components of the agreement is a tax increment financing plan that will generate between $22 million and $50 million for the redevelopment of the Hill and adjacent Uptown area, the largest TIF district by territory in the city’s history.

Property tax growth from the revitalization of the Lower Hill will be used to improve six other neighborhoods: the Bluff, Crawford Roberts, Terrace Village, the Middle Hill, Bedford Dwellings and the Upper Hill.

The financing plan will now go before the City Council, the Pittsburgh Public School board and the Allegheny County Council for approval. The collaboration also includes the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Sports & Exhibition Authority (SEA).

Furthermore, under the recently finalized agreement, the percentage of affordable housing was set at 20 percent, while minority and women’s business participation in the arena redevelopment was set at 30 percent and 15 percent, respectively—the highest in the city’s history.

Officials have also announced a one-year extension on the initial development plan the Pittsburgh Penguins established with the SEA, in which the team was required to buy 10 percent of the 28 acres by the end of the year. The Penguins now have until next October to do so.

Beyond the revitalization of the surrounding neighborhoods and the creation of additional jobs and housing, the redevelopment project holds an important historic significance, since it will reconnect the Hill District to downtown Pittsburgh, a tie that was lost when the Civic Arena was built in the 1960s.

Construction on the project’s residential component is scheduled to begin within the next six to nine months. Upon completion, the affordable housing units are expected to rent for as low as $600 per month.

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons