A view of part of the former Civic Arena site, which was slated for redevelopment led by the Pittsburgh Penguins -- until the team announced Thursday that it was ceasing Lower Hill development. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Despite the Penguins’ decision to walk from Lower Hill, URA board will meet Thursday about development terms

Update (5/20/20): Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto urged the Urban Redevelopment Authority board to approve the Penguins' proposed developer and tentative plan to build an office tower in the Lower Hill District, in advance of a URA board vote scheduled for Thursday. He called the potential First National Bank office tower "an extraordinary $200 million investment in the heart of Pittsburgh that will help brace our local economy in a time of great need," which would also result in an $11 million investment in housing and development in the Hill District. Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority board is planning to move forward with a vote Thursday on proposed terms for construction of a Hill District office tower and parking garage by the Penguins, despite the hockey organization’s announcement yesterday that it is ceasing development operations on the former Civic Arena site. "We're moving forward to get this done in the coming days,” said city Chief of Staff Dan Gilman on Friday morning. “We believe this is a project that is still critical to get done and can and should be a win for the neighborhood, the city and the Penguins."

The site near the corner of Washington Place and Bedford Avenue, on which the Pittsburgh Penguins and developer Buccini/Pollin Group had planned to build FNB Tower, photographed May 13. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Pittsburgh Penguins stop Lower Hill development, citing frustration over URA’s pace

The Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday announced that they are halting their years-long effort to redevelop the former Civic Arena site in the Lower Hill District, following an Urban Redevelopment Authority board decision to delay an approval vote by two weeks. The URA board opted not to vote on whether to approve the Pittsburgh Penguins’ chosen developer and a conceptual plan to build a bank office tower, citing continuing discussions on the benefits that would flow to the Hill District. The board expressed plans to vote within two weeks. The move prompted the Penguins to announce their withdrawal from discussions. “In a week where the Penguins had to furlough a majority of our employees and we are all suffering the worst health and economic crisis in our nation’s history, we are disappointed that the URA delayed a $200 million development project that alone would create 1,500 construction jobs, 2,000 permanent jobs, deliver the highest commitments to minority- and women-owned businesses in the city’s history, and generate $11 million in direct and immediate investment into the middle and upper Hill District,” wrote Penguins President and CEO David Morehouse, in response to a request for comment from PublicSource.

(Illustration by Jay Manning)

Pandemic-era policing: Fewer crimes, but signs of rising stress

Since the first week of the pandemic-related shutdown, Pittsburgh police have seen the overall demand for their services, including investigations of theft, assault and harassment, decrease substantially.

Yet police responses to a variety of non-criminal events, including civil disputes and mental health emergencies, have increased, likely due to the stressors of staying at home.

Construction workers pour dirt near the Produce Terminal in Pittsburgh's Strip District in late February 2019. (Photo by Kat Procyck/PublicSource)

The URA in the Williamson era

Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority has taken more than 90 significant actions since Sam Williamson became the chair in February 2019. Here are a dozen of the most significant.

Greg Flisram, executive director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, talks via Zoom to the URA board at its April 16, 2020 meeting.

Latest news from the Urban Redevelopment Authority board

As part of Develop PGH, PublicSource will report here about notable actions and conversations from the monthly meetings of the Urban Redevelopment Authority [URA]. From the May 14, 2020 board meeting

After the May 14 meeting of the Urban Redevelopment Authority board, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they are halting their years-long effort to redevelop the former Civic Arena site in the Lower Hill District, following a board decision to delay an approval vote by two weeks. Read the full story here. From the April 16, 2020 board meeting: URA urges banks to step up in coronavirus crisis as state and federal funds fall short

The needs of Pittsburgh’s pandemic-sickened economy have outstripped the government’s cures, according to Urban Redevelopment Authority officials, who told that agency’s board that they’re casting about for more money to lend to struggling businesses. The URA has assembled $3.1 million to make emergency loans to city businesses.