The Department of City Planning is reviewing a development plan for the former Penn Plaza site in East Liberty. It's the third version of the Pennley Park South plan to be submitted by owner LG Realty Advisors, Inc.
Since sending in its revised amended preliminary land development plan (RAPLDP) on Feb. 9, there has been a volley of information back and forth.
“We view all of this collaboration as positive,” Lawrence Gumberg, president of LG Realty Advisors, Inc. wrote in an email. He added that in finalizing a tenant mix “time is of the essence,” though the company aims to bring a “productive mix” of tenants to the site.
The nine-acre project is expected to host office and retail space, and to annually generate $500,000 in real estate taxes. LG Realty Advisors expects the first phase of construction to begin this year.
The RAPLDP does not contain final details nor list specific tenants, which is normal for a large development. However, allowable uses include a hotel or motel, a grocery store, educational or classroom space, retail and office space, and others. A grocery store, Whole Foods, was part of PPS’ original plan that was rejected by the Planning Commission in January 2017.
“We very much hope to bring grocery back to the table,” wrote Gumberg.
City Planning is still reviewing the RAPLDP. When the department judges it complete, they have 10 days in which to schedule the first of two public meetings, and six weeks to add it to the Planning Commission agenda.
Gumberg wrote, the company is eager to hear from the community.
“We’d like to learn more about the kinds of jobs and economic opportunities that people are looking for — and share how this new development will help them.”
This is the third time the plan has been submitted for review since the developer, the city, and four neighborhood groups signed a consent order of court in October 2017. The order resolved numerous lawsuits between the parties, and established additional guidelines for the development.
The site is a Transit Revitalization Investment District or TRID, which allows real estate taxes generated by the project to be used for public or private improvements. The consent order directs those dollars to three separate accounts: a Pennley Park South Improvement Account, an Enright Park Improvement Account and an East End Housing Regeneration Account.
Half of the TRID money will go to the Pennley Park South account to repair streets and maintain the project’s infrastructure. Up to $1 million will be used for improvements to Enright Parklet, which will remain publicly owned and publicly accessible. The remaining TRID money, expected to be “in excess of” $2 million, will be used to acquire and develop affordable housing within a one-mile radius of Pennley Park South.
Housing is not planned for the site itself.
Gumberg expects the project to be constructed in two phases, with the first phase beginning in 2018.