Pittsburgh’s highest-profile development effort suddenly recovered Thursday after a week on life support, as the Urban Redevelopment Authority board voted 4-1 to approve the Penguins’ chosen development team and conceptual plan for a key piece of the Lower Hill District. The approval means the Penguins can continue working with developer Buccini/Pollin Group to design and build a 26-story tower anchored by First National Bank at the corner of Washington Place and Bedford Avenue. And Penguins’ Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kevin Acklin — who a week ago distributed a biting statement announcing the cessation of development operations — told the board that the project now has “the full commitment of our team.”
While the vote revives the project, it comes with considerable hand-wringing — and three conditions:
The development team and the bank have to continue to work toward providing $11 million — financed with part of the development’s future parking and property taxes — immediately upon closing the deal, for use on redevelopment and affordable housing throughout the Hill District. The development team has to make its "best efforts" to negotiate a community impact plan consistent with prior commitments they have made to the neighborhood. Future URA votes on the Lower Hill redevelopment effort will be contingent on documented compliance with a 2014 Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan signed by representatives of the Penguins, City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and Hill District leaders.