Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Planning conflicts in Pittsburgh

The 2008 Hill District CBA, which covers the new Penguins arena (the Consol Energy Center) in Pittsburgh, included a provision funding the creation of a master plan for the Hill District. The Penguins were supposed to hold off on further development plans so long as the master plan was finished by February, 2010, but the community coalition missed that deadline because of delays in hiring a consultant.

At a community meeting earlier this month, Penguins officials presented preliminary plans for 1,200 units of housing, nearly 100,000 square feet of retail space, and a 150-room hotel. The team's representatives say that their plans are consistent with development principles adopted by the Hill Planning Forum, a group made up of community stakeholders. Nevertheless, Penguins officials are reluctant to give the community a larger role in the development process, and they stated at the meeting that community representatives would not have a role in drafting RFPs (requests for proposals). The Penguins are still planning on delaying submission of their plans until after the Hill District's master plan is completed, but whether this is a sincere attempt to involve the community in the development process isn't clear. As one of the Penguins' officials explained during the meeting, the team doesn't want to involve the community in the RFP process in part because it doesn't want to "impose requirements" on developers.

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