Pittsburgh Penguins back out of Lower Hill District redevelopment plan

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins are backing out of a plan to redevelop part of the Lower Hill District.

The team made the announcement Thursday after the Urban Redevelopment Authority delayed a vote on the First National Bank office tower, according to our news partners at TribLIVE.com.

After the Penguins’ announcement, the URA said it would hold a special meeting will be held on May 21.

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Officials with the Penguins said they were disappointed because the project would have created 1,500 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs.

The URA board of directors Friday morning expressed disappointment in the Penguin’s announcement, and said the board members requested two weeks to review materials and underwrite the deal.

They released a statement that said in part:

“Despite broad support for the general concept, both from the URA and the Greater Hill District community, it’s a matter of public record that the development team knew in April that much more work was needed to solidify details on commitments made to the public in previous agreements,” said Board member Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle. “The minimum turnaround time usually requested is five business days.”

“This is truly a transformative development, worthy of public support, and so it should also be strong enough to withstand a short delay for review,” said URA Executive Director Greg Flisram. “We know that we can achieve development goals while also realizing tangible community benefits; at today’s URA, we understand those are complementary, not competing, goals.”

The URA plans to announce a special board meeting to finish up the delayed businesses as early as next week.

Mayor Bill Peduto also released a statement:

“The City of Pittsburgh remains fully committed to delivering a transformative development to the Lower Hill District in partnership with the Pittsburgh Penguins and BPG. Over the past several months, we have successfully worked together on numerous positive votes without delay to take down parcels, advance affordable housing, and move forward with a new corporate HQ skyscraper. This development partnership will also bring over $10M in funding to the greater Hill District Community, new rec2tech facilities, and an MWBE small business incubator, union jobs, and local hiring programs. The City and URA are working closely to advance a vote in the coming days that will build off that partnership and take the next step forward in seeing this vision come to reality.”

—  Willian Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh