URA Approves Amended Deal With Penguins On Lower Hill Development

Nov 15, 2017

The Urban Redevelopment Authority board has voted to move forward with an amended development deal between the city and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday. The proposal narrowly passed three to two, with Councilman Daniel Lavelle and former state Senator Jim Ferlo voting against the deal. Lavelle represents the Hill District.

The Penguins have owned the development rights to the 28-acre site in the lower Hill since 2007, but have yet to break ground. Finalizing a deal on the former Civic Arena site has been delayed two years.

As part of the revised deal, the Penguins would lose 20 percent of parking revenue from the site if they don't develop the first 6.45 acres by 2020. The revenue would go to the Hill District Community Development Corporation.

They must develop an additional 4.3 acres by 2023, or risk losing another 20 percent of parking revenue.

Despite voting against the agreement, Lavelle says the deal has come a long way.

"This is better than where we were," Lavelle said. "We were handed a horrible, horrific deal, and with the help of the mayor and [Chief Development Officer Kevin Acklin], we tried to make this better."

During the hour of contentious debate, the board expressed frustration that the Penguins had not started development and missed deadlines for years. 

Lavelle also said he did not feel comfortable voting yes, because the only opportunities for community feedback on the revised deal took place less than 24 hours before the vote.

"Up until that point, this was all still being negotiated," he said. "So there was nothing for us to actually take to the public for comment."