Hill District residents want neighborhood’s interests protected
About a dozen Hill District residents on Tuesday asked the Pittsburgh Planning Commission to help protect the neighborhood’s interests as the former Civic Arena site is developed.
“I would consider this an assurance that we don’t repeat history,” said Marimba Milliones, president and CEO of the Hill Community Development Corp.
Much of the Hill District was demolished in the 1950s for the Civic Arena, displacing thousands of residents and hundreds of businesses. At a three-hour public hearing Tuesday that drew more than 80 people, some said they worried the new development — still subject to approval by the commission and City Council — would price residents out of the Hill.
An agreement reached in Septemberby city, neighborhood and Pittsburgh Penguins leaders — known as the Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan, or CCIP — lays out conditions for the $440 million development, from the percentage of housing that must be for lower-income residents to participation by minority- and female-owned businesses.
It calls for a committee to oversee the project, including at least three people appointed by city government, three by a Hill District community group and three by the Penguins. The team has an option to buy the Civic Arena site.
“Hopefully we can address any problems that might arise through (the committee), but the committee’s role is to oversee the project,” Milliones said. “We want the planning commission to be a contributing partner in the long-term enforcement of the CCIP.”
Planning Director Ray Gastil said the eight-member commission will discuss the development at its next meeting on Dec. 2.
“We’ll be looking at different ways the (CCIP) can be recognized,” Gastil said. “But I have some concerns about wholly attaching it to the preliminary land development plans … because a number of the tasks, including dispute resolution and developer selection, are just not in the best practices of a planning commission.”
Dusty Kirk, an attorney for the Penguins, agreed that the planning commission would be the “wrong venue” to deal with many development issues outlined in the agreement. She noted that the team signed the agreement and intends to abide by its terms and work collaboratively with city and neighborhood leaders.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or [email protected].