ShareThis Page
News

Redevelopment grant would speed work at site where Civic Arena stood

Aaron Aupperlee
| Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, 9:29 p.m.

The Sports & Exhibition Authority is rethinking its schedule to develop the site of the former Civic Arena now that it has applied for a federal grant that could be worth $18 million.

The authority had expected to begin work in July at the 28-acre site in the lower Hill District. That changed when officials decided in late spring to pursue the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant and delayed construction plans until 2014, Executive Director Mary Conturo said on Thursday.

Initial plans for the site called for designing and building the project in phases as subsidies to pay for work that could reach $38 million to $40 million became available.

“Now, with the TIGER, what we're going to do is design the whole thing,” Conturo said.

The SEA owns the site, now a temporary 883-space parking lot for commuters and events at Consol Energy Center, and is paying for utility lines, roads street lights and other infrastructure upgrades. The Penguins have a 10-year option to buy parcels of the site and have proposed building a mix of offices, housing and entertainment venues on the site.

“Everything is in good shape,” Travis Williams, Penguins chief operating officer, said. “We feel really confident where we are concerning the infrastructure.”

The Penguins expect to begin construction by the end of 2014, Williams said.

The team is in talks with several developers, including McCormack Baron Salazar of St. Louis, KBK Enterprises of Columbus, Ohio, and Dawson Co. of Atlanta.

Delays in starting the project have not caused concern for the Penguins. Williams is confident the SEA will pull together the money needed to complete the project.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald shared Williams' optimism.

“This site is going to be developed,” Fitzgerald said. “There is too much demand out there, and there is too much interest. It's very prime real estate.”

The deadline to apply for the grant was June 3. The transportation department expects to announce the grant awards by fall.

The start of construction depends on funding, Conturo said. The project has secured $15 million, paid in $5 million installments, from the state's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, which the authority would use to match the grant, if the SEA's application is successful.

The authority is using other funding — grants and revenue from taxes — to pay for the initial designs by engineering firm Michael Baker Corp. of Moon.

The SEA's board of directors on Thursday approved more than $283,000 for preliminary designs for Centre Avenue, Washington Place, Bedford Avenue and Crawford Street, which border the site, and to cover added costs from artifacts unearthed during an archeological study.

Nearly 3,000 artifacts, mostly ceramic and glass containers from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries, have been found. The authority has approved a contract for designs of the street grid.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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.

click me