Protesters want city to reject proposed development plan

Protesters want city to reject proposed development plan

EAST LIBERTY, Pa. — A meeting Wednesday night got heated as angry community members confronted developers in East Liberty.

They're upset that affordable housing was lost when the Penn Plaza Apartments were demolished and won't be replaced on the site.

It was standing room only in a room packed full of concerned community members.

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Several said they were blindsided by the meeting and asked the city to do a better job of promoting these meetings.


"I think they have every right to voice their concerns," said Ray Gastil, director of city planning. "Housing is a real concern for people we respect that and honor that."

A protest broke out moments before the Pennley Park South Community meeting even began.

Developers laid out their revised plan to redevelop the Penn Plaza property, a process that's taken a while to move forward on.

"This is a project in a neighborhood, which is a new project, which is mixed use on a site that was formerly all housing," Gastil said.

Channel 11 has been following the controversy since 2015, when people were told that their leases would not be renewed.

A developer brought the property and had plans to build a Whole Foods Market.

After months of protests, the grocery store's owners backed out and residents were displaced.

"Part of the agreement is that there will be an amount of funds that become available to invest in affordable housing within a mile of Penn Park," Gastil said.

City officials told Channel 11 it could take a couple of years before those resources become available.

Developers said they want the site to be mixed use and have a park, but they weren't clear about what else they would like to put there.

There is another meeting coming up. After that, there will be a public hearing.