Strip District development moves closer to fruition
Plans for a $400 million development in the Strip District cleared two major hurdles in recent days.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Robert L. Colville on Wednesday denied the Allegheny Valley Railroad's request for an injunction that would have stopped the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority from selling the Strip's landmark Produce Terminal to the Buncher Co.
The federal Surface Transportation Board on April 19 reversed a 2010 ruling that the railroad had an easement across part of Buncher's property behind the terminal building.
Both issues were holding up Buncher's plans to develop 55 acres of vacant land it owns for offices, residences and retail establishments. A second suit the railroad filed in county court challenging Pittsburgh's creation of a special zoning district for the Buncher project is still pending.
“This is just another stone out of my shoe,” said Thomas J. Balestrieri, Buncher's president and CEO.
Downtown attorney Jonathan Kamin said the railroad is considering an appeal. He declined comment on the transportation board case, referring questions to Ebensburg attorney Richard Wilson, who did not return a call.
“We're certainly disappointed in (Colville's) decision, particularly when we believe the evidence supported that the URA has purposely and willfully made every effort to injure this company and ignore our property rights,” Kamin said.
URA officials lauded the rulings as critical steps.
“It does mean that we are going to continue to move forward in turning acres of vacant parking lots into new housing and economic opportunities,” URA board Chairman Yarone Zober said.
The railroad's suit contended the URA violated a 1981 agreement that required it to make “best efforts” to preserve the terminal building for “rail-oriented use.”
In 2009, the railroad successfully argued before the transportation board that a rail easement running through Buncher's property between 16th and 21st streets remained available for the railroad's use.
The board reversed its decision upon appeal by Buncher.
Buncher's project, which Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has strongly supported, calls for housing, office and retail space between 11th and 21st streets. The company also wants to demolish a third of the terminal building to create space for a street that would permit access to the Allegheny River.
Opponents such as Councilman Patrick Dowd have criticized the project as detrimental to the neighborhood known for gritty wholesale establishments and quirky retail shops specializing in popcorn, imported meats, cheeses and more.
They also contend the project does not provide enough green space along the riverfront.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Woman dead in two-car crash in Natrona Heights
- Opposing defenses find success against Steelers by eschewing blitz
- Steelers looking for Spence to step up game at inside linebacker
- Penguins forward Downie becoming a hit with teammates
- Unpaid August Wilson creditors seek help from judge
- Former Rollier’s store to become art gallery, cafe
- Dunbar woman, toddler in critical condition after high-speed crash
- Vin Diesel showing some love for Pittsburgh and co-star
- Valley Township couple goes all out for Halloween
- Snapshot in time: Comparing Cowher, Tomlin drafts
- Progressive Workshop open houses Thursday in Kittanning, Rayburn