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Attorney of Penn Plaza developer plans to take Pgh. Planning Commission to court over site denial

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PITTSBURGH - A developer’s request to turn a former housing complex into luxury apartments and shops was denied Tuesday by the City of Pittsburgh Planning Commission.

The commission said the developer didn’t have enough community meetings on its plans for Penn Plaza Apartments.

The decision sends a message to developers that they "aren’t able to push residents out,” said William Anderson. "(It) irks our community, (people) who have lived there their entire lives. (To) turn our community into something that they want that has no benefit to the residents.”

An attorney for the developer said there have been 35 community meetings during the past two years. After the decision, the attorney expressed disappointment. 

“We are going to go ahead and evaluate our options,” said attorney Joe Kamin. “We believe we comply with the criteria as set up in the ordinance and the criteria of the code, and believe we are entitled to approval.”

Kamin told Channel 11’s Rick Earle that he is preparing to take the planning commission to court, while others are praising the commission.

Marlene Copeland is one of 27 residents still living at the apartments, which is set to be torn down this year to make way for the construction of new apartments and a Whole Foods store. Dozens of residents have already relocated.

Councilman Ricky Burgess said this is a minor setback in the plan that will revitalize the neighborhood.

“My commitment is to create mixed use, mixed income in that place and this is simply a bump in the road. But we will move forward with community input and community process to come up with a just decision,” Burgess said.

Copeland, who will soon be moving to another apartment nearby, said the whole process has soured her.

“They have money, so they are going to get it. They are going to do what they said they are going to do,” she said.