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RENOVATION—These buildings on North Avenue, which includes the Garden Theater, are in the process of being renovated. A combination of apartments and businesses will fill the buildings. (Photo by Rossano P. Stewart)


Prior to its regular meeting, Urban Redevelopment Authority Board chair Kevin Aklin noted that the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports and Exhibition Authority had hours before approved construction of U.S. Steel’s proposed new headquarters building on the former Civic Arena site in the lower Hill.

The URA board immediately voted to do the same, approving a series of property transfers, sales and subdivisions needed to complete the deal—which allows the Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Team to purchase the 1.89-acre parcel of land where the building will sit for $2.75 million.

That “sets the market” for future land development sales on the arena site where 26 acres remain.

“This is not the finishing line, it’s the starting line,” said Aklin, following the board approval. In accordance with the community agreement reached last year, the board approved sub-dividing the particular lot across Centre Avenue from the CONSOL Energy Center to allow for a possible future addition to the building.

The plan also calls for a large parking space—perhaps with an amphitheater—across a new street from the headquarters building

Aklin said the city and county have already agreed to the tax abatement district plan that calls for half the tax revenue to be reinvested in infrastructure and half going toward other development in the Hill District, and that the Pittsburgh Public Schools will bring that up for approval during two meetings beginning at the end of the month.

Scott Caplan, business development manager for U.S. Steel’s developer Clayco Realty, thanked everyone and said the company would seek a Silver LEED environmental rating, and would exceed the authority 35 percent target for minority- and women-owned business enterprise participation.

“We’ve agreed to go 42 percent on MWDBE,” he said. “We’re very excited and are already arranging meetings with minority contractors and suppliers.”

The board also approved spending up to $100,000 to refurbish and reinstall the massive illuminated sign for the Garden Theater. Development of the block with theater and the Masonic Building are the last remaining—and most difficult pieces of the decade-old Federal North development.

The Masonic building project, an $8.2 million renovation by the nonprofit city of hope, will yield a ground-floor restaurant, a bookstore, a performance space and eight upper-floor apartments.

Allegheny City Development Group LLC, led by Philadelphia developer Wayne Zukin, is renovating the Garden and plans to have its work completed before summer. But the project, which called for a Piccolo Forno restaurant on the ground floor, is now searching for a new tenant because project delays—especially with infrastructure replacement—forced them to pull out.

The renovation is slated to cost $2.3 million, almost half of that coming in the form of local and state grants.


Source:   Morrow, Christian,


Date Published: 
Thursday, March 19, 2015 | 412-765-1820 |

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