Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Penguins Irk City Councilman Hill Representative Says May Cut Support on Grant Meant for Former Civic Arena Site

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Penguins Irk City Councilman Hill Representative Says May Cut Support on Grant Meant for Former Civic Arena Site

Article excerpt

A city councilman may withdraw his support for a federal grant critical to the redevelopment of the former Civic Arena site unless a deal is reached soon between the Penguins and Hill District leaders on minority participation, affordable housing and other issues.

R. Daniel Lavelle, who represents the Hill, has been supporting the application of the city, Allegheny County and the Sports & Exhibition Authority for the $21 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant since last spring.

Local officials are counting on the money to help pay for the roads, utilities and other infrastructure, estimated at more than $30 million, needed to get the 28-acre site ready for the residential, office and commercial development being proposed by the Penguins.

At the same time, Hill leaders, including Mr. Lavelle, have been trying for more than a year to negotiate an agreement with the team on levels of participation by minority- and women-owned businesses in the development and the amount of affordable housing that will be made available to lower-income residents.

So far they have been unable to cut a deal, and Mr. Lavelle said Wednesday his patience is wearing thin.

If no agreement is reached in the next two to three weeks, he said, he may be forced to withdraw his support for the highly competitive TIGER grant. Awards are expected to be made next month.

"The principle behind the TIGER application is about providing ladders of opportunity. They don't come because we're building buildings. They come because we're very intentional about providing ownership opportunities, job opportunities" and others in the development, he said.

Mr. Lavelle sees the "real ladder" as the community collaboration and implementation plan that lays out Hill demands regarding levels of minority participation, affordable housing and other issues. …

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