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Concerns Being Raised Over Strip District Development

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Andy Sheehan Andy Sheehan
KDKA-TV Investigator Andy Sheehan began his broadcast journalism...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — At the produce terminal in the Strip District a way of life is coming to an end.

“I’m very sad about it, but there’s nothing you can do,” said Tony Perri, of Perri Produce.

A third of the terminal building will be torn down to make way for a massive 66-acre residential and office development proposed by the Buncher Company; but already the environmental group PennFuture has threatened suit, saying Buncher has tapped into the city storm sewers without proper approvals.

“We believe that the activity down here is not compliant with the city ordinance and is illegal,” said George Jugovic, of PennFuture.

And there is a growing criticism that the development is moving forward without thorough oversight.

“That site deserves a quality development and we’re not going to have that if we continue on this piecemeal approach,” said City Controller Michael Lamb.

Lamb says the developer is in a position to use $15 million in state money to build roads and other infrastructure and will have a free hand in terms of quality.

“We’re not going to have the opportunity to get the proper design controls, the proper environmental controls in place,” Lamb added.

But the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority says the opposite is true – that Buncher must undergo additional oversight as part of a special planned district process.

“We are getting for the city a whole additional layer of reviews and oversight to what is designed there, how it functions and how the whole overall site gets master planned,” said Robert Rubinstein, of the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

And to Rubinstein the project itself is a no brainer.

He says: “380 million of investment, 22 million in tax revenues, hundreds of construction jobs.”

So, the city says the proper controls are in place to ensure a quality development and the best use of this land, but there are also critics who intended to keep their feet to the fire.

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