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By Mark Belko / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
April 20th 2017
As the Pittsburgh Penguins chase the Stanley Cup on the ice, they finally are ready to start another big quest off it — rebuilding the former Civic Arena site.
The team and St. Louis-based developer McCormack Baron Salazar have submitted a letter of intent to the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority and the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority to start the first phase of a 1,000-unit residential development there.
They hope to begin construction of the first 255 units, 20 percent of which will be affordable to households earning 60 percent or less of the area median income, in early 2018. They plan to buy the 5 acres, including 1 acre of open space, needed for the first phase featuring two mid-rise buildings in October.
The first units — studios, one-, two- and a few three-bedroom — will be built along Crawford Street between Centre Avenue and the newly constructed Wylie Avenue in the shadow of the Crawford Square housing development.
At the same time, the team is talking with potential partners about a “destination” retail/entertainment development on another part of the 28-acre lower Hill site that could include such things as a movie theater and an upscale bowling alley.
Partnering with the Penguins and McCormack Baron in the residential venture will be the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust, which will help with financing for the project.
The trust also has pledged to advance the portion of the development-related tax revenue earmarked for the middle and upper Hill under a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act district set up on the 28-acre site.
In the first phase, that could conservatively amount to $1.5 million, said Ted Chandler, the trust’s chief operating officer. Overall, it could generate $25 million to $30 million in potential investment in the middle and upper Hill over the life of the development.
Furthermore, the trust and McCormack Baron are looking to provide $5 million each in New Markets Tax Credits for the neighborhood, assuming they can find a qualifying project.
“This is an exciting new phase in our quest to develop the 28 acres,” said David Morehouse, the Penguins CEO.