Fifth Avenue may get ice rink
Six months after Sir Paul McCartney rocked Consol Energy Center with its first concert and five months into the Penguins hockey season, adjacent Fifth Avenue mostly looks the way it did a decade ago — run down.
"Everybody's waiting. Nothing has changed," said Dan Petruzzi, owner of AAA Engraving at 1042 Fifth Ave.
That soon could change.
By June, a T.G.I. Friday's will open in the arena along Fifth Avenue, Travis Williams, the Penguins' vice president of business and legal affairs, said yesterday. Team officials are in talks with Qdoba Mexican Grill, and the center has space for six or seven other small shops along its Fifth Avenue side, he said.
The Pens are exploring whether to build the city's only indoor ice rink along the same block between the arena and Stevenson Street, or whether to say in the suburbs, Williams said. The team trains at the Iceoplex at Southpointe in Canonsburg, Washington County.
"Right now, we are looking into whether it would be economically feasible," Williams said.
The rink would be one part of a revived neighborhood team officials hope will thrive on its own, not just when games or concerts are scheduled. The Consol draws as many as 18,000 people to about 150 events each year, Williams said.
A 2007 agreement with the Sports and Exhibition Authority also gives the Penguins development rights for the 28-acre Civic Arena site, which the city's Historic Review Commission yesterday declined to designate the building as a historic structure.
Development of that site inevitably will spur growth on Fifth Avenue, Williams said.
"We believe in the Fifth Avenue corridor between Downtown and Oakland," he said. "It is an area that has potential for residential and commercial growth."
Any redevelopment of the Civic Arena site likely will take years, said Rob Stephany, executive director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh. Revamping Fifth Avenue could be done far more quickly, he said.
"We think the new arena is well positioned to revive Fifth Avenue," Stephany said. "The underpinnings of the market are there."
Fifth Avenue business owners, meanwhile, say lack of redevelopment reflects a slow economy.
"If this were a better economy we were in, this block would have been redeveloped two years ago," said Howard Elinoff, owner of three Fifth Avenue buildings that house Uniforms USA.
Elinoff, whose loft building has high ceilings and room for a roof-top deck, said several developers have shown interest but plans fell through after they ran into problems securing credit.
"I hope this area could become a South Side Works sort of place," said Carly Sypherd, whose family has owned Souper Bowl Restaurant & Lounge on Fifth Avenue for 22 years. "Right now, on a Friday night -- if there is not an event at the arena -- it's like a ghost town here. Eighty percent of our business is from the arena."