Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Peduto: Pens Need to Progress on Arena Site Team Says Financing, Contamination Holding Back Redevelopment

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Peduto: Pens Need to Progress on Arena Site Team Says Financing, Contamination Holding Back Redevelopment

Article excerpt

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto won't take another delay of game from the Penguins in redeveloping the former Civic Arena site.

Mr. Peduto urged the team Tuesday to get moving on the 28-acre redevelopment or to give up the rights to the lower Hill District land.

In an interview with reporters, the mayor said he intends to hold the Penguins to the Oct. 21 deadline to start the first phase of a 1,200-unit residential development near Crawford Square.

"I certainly am one of the biggest hockey fans in the city, and I want to see that area developed, but you got to get moving," he said. "It's time to get moving."

Mr. Peduto was reacting to a report in Tuesday's Post-Gazette based on a March 4 letter of intent in which the Penguins stated they might not be able to start the development this fall because of site contamination, a $5 million financing gap and other issues.

The team tied the contamination in part to the demolition of buildings in the 1950s and said the remediation effort could jeopardize the timetable for the 175-unit first phase of the residential.

But Mr. Peduto didn't believe the environmental issues were serious enough to warrant a delay.

"There are environmental concerns on every inch of Pittsburgh. Probably not even Schenley Park doesn't have some level of environmental concerns. That's a basic of development. That comes with being a developer, is understanding that that is part of developing in an urban area," he said.

"There's no reason that should be a reason for delaying the project."

The Penguins said the $5 million funding shortfall in the $45 million first phase was created by the requirement to earmark 20 percent of all 1,200 units to eventually be built at the site as affordable.

Under the deal reached with political and Hill leaders, 15 percent of the units are reserved for people making 80 percent of the area median income and 5 percent for those making 60 percent to 70 percent of the area median.

Mr. Peduto said the city has urged the Penguins and their residential developer, St. Louis-based McCormack Baron Salazar, to consider affordable housing tax credits to help fill the gap. …

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