Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Nearing Accord with Hill Group on Civic Arena

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Nearing Accord with Hill Group on Civic Arena

Article excerpt

The city and the Hill Community Development Corp. appear to be on the verge of a deal to resolve an appeal filed over the redevelopment of the former Civic Arena site.

Kevin Acklin, chief of staff to Mayor Bill Peduto, said Thursday the parties are "very close" to settling the issues surrounding the Hill CDC's appeal of the planning commission's approval of a preliminary land development plan for the 28-acre site.

"Substantively, we walked out of my office with a deal [Wednesday night]," he said.

The possible agreement came to light at Thursday's Urban Redevelopment Authority board meeting, which Mr. Acklin chairs.

He asked for a delay in the vote on the creation of a one-of-a- kind Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) district for the arena site - one designed to pump an estimated $20 million into other parts of the Hill District for capital improvements and other types of aid, including job training programs - until the settlement is finalized.

Mr. Acklin said the LERTA district is a "material term" to the settlement and that he wanted to make sure that what the URA board votes on matches the terms of the deal.

The city has been in negotiations with the Hill CDC for more than a week to try to resolve the appeal, which was filed this month because of dissatisfaction with the planning commission's approval.

In response, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hold the development rights to the land, have said that the litigation could jeopardize the deal to build the new headquarters for U.S. Steel on the property.

As part of the proposed settlement, Mr. Acklin said a task force would be created to study affordable housing issues across the city.

That would serve as a substitute for legislation being advanced by city Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, who represents the Hill, that would require housing developers using public land or public money to make "commercially reasonable efforts" to ensure that 30 percent of the units are affordable.

Mr. Acklin said the task force is a "more robust solution than what's been presented" because it would look at affordable housing issues citywide, not just in one area. …

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