PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The redevelopment of the site of the old Civic Arena has been a controversial topic for years, and Tuesday morning local officials made a major announcement regarding plans for the location.

The Penguins, city officials and people in the Hill District have been tossing ideas around for months, trying to come up with a solution that works for everyone.

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At a press conference this morning, representatives from all sides outlined the plans.

“It captures the value of the development of 28 acres and invests that in the Middle and Upper Hill,” said Mayor Bill Peduto.

Specifically, it will generate $22 to $50 million for development in the Hill and Uptown.

“I believe the Hill District community will get a new commercial corridor through Centre Avenue,” said Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle. “I believe the Hill District community will receive new housing all throughout the Middle and Upper Hill Districts. I believe the Hill District community will receive job training programming.”

The plan includes housing units, office space and retail space.

A key to the plan is the Penguins’ agreement to build affordable housing along the upper level of the site. It will make up about 20 percent of the housing stock.

Within six to nine months, officials say we could see construction ongoing of the housing units. The affordable housing, with rents as low as $600 a month, would be going in right across from Crawford Square and moving down into the property.

On the bottom end of the property, would be the retail development. However, work on that is probably still several years away.

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“Based on our economic feasibility study, it’ll be 1,100 residential units, 5- 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. We’ve already announced McCormick, Baron and Salazar as our lead residential developer,” said Travis Williams, the COO of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“We also, as part of the community collaboration implantation plan, will be bringing a minority developer in to do a minimum of 250 residential units on that site as well,” said Williams. “That’ll be where we kick off and you’ll see a lot of work happening relative to that in terms of the planning exercise, the design engineering, and you’ll start to see a lot of the infrastructure work related to that piece happening within the next three to six months.”

Councilman Lavelle says the plan will mean the revitalization of the entire Hill District thanks to tax increment financing that’s going to be spread throughout the area, not just on the site of the old arena.

Sen. Bob Casey released a statement following the announcement of the plans.

It reads in part: “Connecting the Hill District and downtown Pittsburgh is critical for the region’s economy. Redeveloping this 28 acre site will create jobs and make important improvements to the region’s infrastructure that are long overdue. I was happy to work with Congressman Mike Doyle on this effort.”

In the Hill District, the folks like what they hear, but they’ve heard it before.

“Sounds like a great idea,” said Joyce Jones, a Hill District resident. “I just hope the area they say will benefit, benefits.”

“If we can get outside help to revitalize the neighborhood, then it will make the Hill livable again for everyone,” Virgil Schatzman, another Hill District resident.

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