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Penguins to begin construction at Civic Arena site by fall |

Penguins to begin construction at Civic Arena site by fall

Bob Bauder
| Wednesday, February 6, 2019 7:05 p.m
Bob Bauder | Tribune-Review
Dave Soltesz, president of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation.
The parcel of land that was once the site of Mellon Arena is seen from the 20th floor of the Marriott City Center, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015.
Howard Graves, left, principal architect with Graves Design Group, discusses the future of the proposed Civic Arena site redevelopment during a public meeting at the CONSOL Energy Center on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015.

The Penguins plan to begin the first phase of construction for the long-delayed redevelopment of the former Civic Arena site in Pittsburgh this fall, President and CEO David Morehouse said Wednesday.

Morehouse declined to offer project details. He joined Gov. Tom Wolf and local officials at the Allegheny County Intermediate Unit in announcing a $442,000 state grant to expand science and technology education in Western Pennsylvania.

The team owns redevelopment rights to the 28-acre Lower Hill District site and is planning a mix of residential, office, retail and entertainment venues.

“We have plans to start doing things by the end of this year, fall 2019,” Morehouse said, adding that the state grant would help prepare school students for future jobs on the site.

The Penguins must develop 10.75 acres of the Lower Hill District property by 2023. Otherwise, the NHL franchise faces losing 40 percent of the parking revenue from lots that cover most of the 28-acre property, according to an agreement with Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and the City-County Sports and Exhibition Authority, which own the property.

The grant provided to the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation will pay for an expansion of the foundation’s science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) Lending Library. It will benefit up to 400,000 school students in Western Pennsylvania, officials said.

Morehouse and Wolf said construction is booming in the state, particularly in Western Pennsylvania, but there aren’t enough workers to fill them. The governor said his aim is to provide children, starting at birth, with opportunities for high-quality schooling.

“That’s why STEAM education is so important,” Wolf said. “It really comes down to we have too many jobs that have too many openings and not enough people to fill those places here in Western Pennsylvania. This kind of initiative is really aimed at addressing that fundamental problem.”

Dave Soltesz, president of the Penguins Foundation, said lending libraries would be set up in intermediate units.

Teachers will be able to borrow instruction curricula for topics such as robotics, electric circuitry and air monitoring, and take it back to their districts for classes. Other teachers can borrow the materials upon their return.

“Right now, we’re in three intermediate units, which covers four counties,” Soltesz said. “This grant will allow us to go to 10 intermediate units. Those 10 intermediate units cover 22 counties, which is practically all of Western Pennsylvania, and over 200 school districts that represent about 400,000 students.”

The Penguins Foundation, the Citrone Family and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit in Homestead created the STEAM Lending Library at the intermediate unit in 2015.

It was the first of its kind in the nation to allow school districts to borrow educational technology equipment for classroom instruction.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, or via Twitter @bobbauder.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, or via Twitter .

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