PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Urban Redevelopment Authority approved plans to develop the former Civic Arena site.
It’s a $750 million project and up until now, it’s been hung up by disagreements between the Penguins and the Hill District community.
On Thursday, the URA voted virtually to approve plans.
“It will be the largest community agreement that the City of Pittsburgh has ever entered into, for any development to occur in this city,” Mayor Bill Peduto said.
The project includes a $200-million First National Bank headquarters, restaurants, concert venues and housing.
What does the Hill get? Affordable housing, a renovated community center and guaranteed minority jobs.
“This city of Pittsburgh messed up in the 1950s under a plan of urban renewal, which didn’t put people at the forefront. And we owe it back to the community now to make sure we don’t make that same mistake twice,” Peduto said.
Negotiations were lengthy and tense, especially when the mayor went up against hockey legend and Penguins owner Mario Lemieux.
“I certainly remember a conversation with Mario and saying, “Look, sometimes you have to throw an elbow.’ He looked me in the eye and said, ‘I have some pretty sharp elbow.'”
Pittsburgh Penguins President and CEO David Morehouse released a statement, saying:
“We are encouraged by today’s approval by the URA board to advance construction of our $200 million, 26-story F.N.B. headquarters development in the heart of the Lower Hill. We all have a lot of work ahead of us, and together we need to build a development process better rooted in transparency and accountability. First and foremost, we thank F.N.B. for their continued commitment to Pittsburgh and to the community. This building alone will generate $11 million in direct and immediate investment in the middle and upper Hill District, create thousands of family sustaining construction and permanent jobs during a global pandemic, and catalyze almost $1 billion of private investment in our city. We thank organized labor, in particular Darrin Kelly, President of the Allegheny County Labor Council, for stepping up to fight for jobs that will benefit more women and minority owned businesses than any development in our city’s history. Finally, we are grateful to Mayor Bill Peduto and his Chief of Staff Dan Gilman, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Representative Jake Wheatley and Councilman Daniel Lavelle for their leadership, and we look forward to rebuilding the Lower Hill, together.”