Hazelwood Almono development revised since economy's growing

| Friday, April 6, 2012

The owners of the former LTV Steel coke plant site in Hazelwood are moving ahead with a new master plan to build offices, retail, light industrial and residential sites with the help of a local architectural firm and community support, officials said.

The 178-acre site has been treated with 800,000 cubic yards of fill that has leveled the property and lifted it out of the flood plain, which will help developers avoid problems in construction.

"The master plan has been changed because of the improved economy and the physical condition of the site," said Don Smith Jr., president of the Regional Industrial Development Corp. of Southwestern Pennsylvania, general partner in site owner Almono Group LP.

Under the new plan, the number of housing units proposed has been reduced to 1,300 or 1,400. The site is divided into four development zones — residential, offices, light industrial and high-tech.

The property, the last major piece of vacant land available for development in the city, is near the universities and medical facilities in Oakland, Downtown, Squirrel Hill and the South Side.

One of the next steps is to get the site rezoned, Smith said. He gave no indication how soon that would be sought. Once rezoning is obtained and additional money is secured, site preparation could begin by late this year or early 2013. The redevelopment is along the Monongahela River.

Some funding has been obtained for estimated initial costs of $20 million to $25 million to prepare the property for development, Smith said. The development has received $15 million in funding from public sources, including the state and the city of Pittsburgh. Total cost of the infrastructure work is estimated at $60 million.

"The four foundations that are owners of the property are enthusiastic about the plan and are ready and have the ability to provide additional funding for the first phase, if needed," Smith said.

The four owners are Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation and McCune Foundation. The group purchased the site for $10 million in 2002 from bankrupt LTV Steel Co.

In 2010, architectural firm Rothschild Doyno Collaborative was hired to provide a vision for development of the property, Smith said.

Some residential units will be included with small commercial and office uses along the future Riverfront Boulevard and will be "the premier address in the complex," said Ken Doyno, principal with Rothschild Doyno.

The main residential section, which will connect with all the streets between the site and the community, will be on the south end of the site. There will be some small retail buildings and open green spaces.

"Hazelwood residents seemed pleased with the new plan, with emphasis on connecting the community with the development, at a presentation we made," he said.

"We have been in contact with local and national developers, for all phases of the development, and while we have no commitment from any one, those we contacted are interested," Smith said.

The light-industrial end will be in the property's center, where bar mill exists, Smith said. Also being maintained is the historic railroad roundhouse. CSX and Allegheny Valley trains are active transporting a variety of products through the site.

Smith and Doyno are scheduled to talk about the plan to members of the National Association of Office and Industrial Properties on April 19 in the Omni Westin William Penn hotel.

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