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From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:
Hill to get $2 million aid for grocery, moreHill District residents will get $2 million for a grocery store, first dibs on jobs at the new Uptown arena and a chance to lay out their vision for the neighborhood under a community benefits agreement to be finalized this morning.
The contract among One Hill Neighborhood Coalition, the Penguins and government agencies means the arena will provide benefits for its most immediate neighbors, negotiators said.
"It's very positive," said Carl Redwood, One Hill's chairman. "If there's any downside, some people feel it should be more positive, but it's still positive."
Politicians, Penguins officials and community leaders are scheduled to attend a signing ceremony for the agreement at Freedom Corner in the Hill District, a neighborhood of about 17,000 people.
Negotiations took place for more than a year, beginning after the Penguins' March 2007 deal to stay in Pittsburgh. Construction on the arena between Fifth and Centre avenues began with a groundbreaking ceremony last week.
Penguins officials have said they want to correct mistakes made by public agencies a half-century ago when residential blocks were leveled to make way for Mellon Arena.
"The Penguins organization and the Mario Lemieux Foundation always have believed in giving back to our community," team President David Morehouse said. "And we believe that the new arena project will be a catalyst for growth and development in this very important section of the city -- impacting not only the Hill but also our neighbors in Uptown and Downtown."
The agreement includes:
• $1 million each from the Penguins and the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority for a Hill District grocery store. Kuhn's, a locally owned chain of eight supermarkets, has proposed a full-service grocery at Centre Avenue and Dinwiddie Street, and Save-A-Lot, based in St. Louis, has proposed a smaller discount operation at the same location.
• A First Source Employment Center that will give neighborhood residents the first chance to apply for jobs created at the arena and through redevelopment of the 28-acre Mellon Arena site. The city and Allegheny County agreed to provide $150,000 a year for at least two years to start the program. The Penguins agreed to create jobs that pay wages of $12 to $30 an hour plus benefits.
• The creation of a master planning committee that has until Feb. 19, 2010, to come up with guidelines for development of the Hill District and Uptown. The committee would include four people appointed by One Hill and five by local officials, although no decision would take effect if more than two people vote against it. The Penguins agreed not to submit development plans for the Mellon Arena site until after this process ends, although the team could build a hotel near the arena.
• The city, county and URA agreed to work with Pittsburgh YMCA to build a community center in the neighborhood.
• The Penguins agreed to pay $500,000 a year for six to 12 years for a Neighborhood Partnership Program, focused on development and social services such as treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. The county would conduct a two-year review of social services.
Separately, backers of the planned North Shore casino have agreed to invest $3 million over five years for development projects in the Hill District. Redwood said casino operators likely would control that money and it would go directly to the recipients, rather than to a neighborhood development agency.
The negotiating process itself might be the greatest lasting impact of having the agreement, said Evan Frazier, president and CEO of Hill House Association, a lead negotiator for One Hill.
"We didn't get everything in every category, but there were elements of each," Frazier said.
The agreement goes a long way toward helping the community rebuild -- in physical structure, as well as jobs and social services, said negotiator Gabe Morgan, president of the Pennsylvania State Council of Service Employees International Union.
"You can always have a conversation about what's enough," Morgan said. "They certainly got much more of a commitment to building that community and to making sure that development positively impacts the community."