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Ambitious Hazelwood development project about to begin

Bob Bauder
| Saturday, June 13, 2015, 12:01 a.m.

Owners of a former steel mill property in Hazelwood are set to start construction within months on a road and other infrastructure that will pave the way for $1 billion in homes, offices and light manufacturing, an official said Friday.

Tim White, vice president of development for the Regional Industrial Development Corp., said the agency advertised for contractors on June 1 and will open bids in July. He said construction of a 1½-mile road, dedicated bike lane and sidewalk, and utility lines likely will begin by late summer or early fall.

“This is the core that the utilities will run through for the entire site. It allows for vertical development to happen,” White said. “We're going to (request for proposals) from developers at some point this year for various parcels on the site.”

The work includes environmentally friendly stormwater systems, with tree pits and landscaping that collect runoff.

RIDC, which partnered with four foundations in 2002 under the name Almono LLC to acquire the 178-acre former LTV Steel coke works, expects to begin constructing buildings in 2016, White said.

The project on the largest tract of undeveloped brownfield property in Pittsburgh is expected to transform Hazelwood, where about 25 percent of 5,000 residents live below the poverty line. Streets in the development will connect with Hazelwood streets.

“I certainly would like to see them get development off the ground this year,” said Jim Richter, executive director of civic group Hazelwood Initiative.

White said Almono is nearly finished securing financing for the project's first phase. He would not give the estimated cost, but previous estimates totaled about $100 million.

In addition to $80 million in tax-increment financing from the city, Almono received $10.4 million in grants and a $7 million low-interest loan from the state. White said Almono is seeking private loans.

It has yet to secure tenants but has received substantial interest, White said.

Pittsburgh Councilman Corey O'Connor of Swisshelm Park said his office set up meetings between RIDC and several technology firms, a company in the medical field and nonprofit organizations interested in locating there. O'Connor declined to name the companies.

“There's some really good opportunities here to get anchor tenants,” he said.

Mayor Bill Peduto said linking the site with Oakland is important so that students and employees of universities and UPMC can take advantage of housing and office space. He said possibilities exist for a trolly or commuter train along rail lines.

“What you need is a way to have a public transit system that can connect Hazelwood with Oakland,” Peduto said. “It we're able to do that there, it becomes a potential branch campus for Pitt, (Carnegie Mellon University) and UPMC.”

Bob Bauder is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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