City Approves Preliminary Plan For Former Penn Plaza Site After Lawsuits, Months Of Negotiations

Feb 28, 2018

After a months-long volley of information, Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning has determined that a preliminary plan to develop the former Penn Plaza site in East Liberty is complete.

City Planning will now work to schedule two public meetings to gather input from community residents on the plan for the 9-acre Pennley Park South, owned by LG Realty Advisors, Inc.

Company president Lawrence Gumberg said they are eager to hear from the community.

“We’d like to learn more about the kinds of jobs and economic opportunities that people are looking for — and share how this new development will help them," he said in an email. 

Gumberg added that in finalizing a tenant mix “time is of the essence,” though the company aims to bring a “productive mix” of tenants to the site.

This was the third time the revised amended preliminary land development plan (RAPDLP) had been submitted for review since the developer, the city, and four neighborhood groups signed a consent order of court in October 2017. The order resolved numerous lawsuits between the parties, and established additional guidelines for the development.

The RAPLDP does not contain final details nor list specific tenants, which is normal for a large development. However, allowable uses include a hotel or motel, a grocery store, educational or classroom space, retail and office space, and others. A grocery store, Whole Foods, was part of PPS’ original plan that was rejected by the Planning Commission in January 2017.

“We very much hope to bring grocery back to the table,” wrote Gumberg.

The project is expected to host office and retail space, and to annually generate $500,000 in real estate taxes. Gumberg expects the project to be constructed in two phases, with the first phase beginning in 2018.

The site is a Transit Revitalization Investment District, or TRID, which allows real estate taxes generated by the project to be used for public or private improvements. The consent order directs those dollars to three separate accounts: a Pennley Park South Improvement Account, an Enright Park Improvement Account and an East End Housing Regeneration Account.

Half of the TRID money will go to the Pennley Park South account to repair streets and maintain the project’s infrastructure. Up to $1 million will be used for improvements to Enright Parklet, which will remain publicly owned and publicly accessible. The remaining TRID money, expected to be “in excess of” $2 million, will be used to acquire and develop affordable housing within a one-mile radius of Pennley Park South.

Housing is not planned for the site itself.

Meeting schedules and further details will be posted to the project’s page on the City Planning website. The city will also begin the planning process for Enright Park.