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Preservation Efforts Fail, Arena To Start Coming Down

Demolition of the 50-year-old Civic Arena is scheduled to begin at this hour after final legal challenges to block the razing of "the Igloo" were rejected by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The group Preservation Pittsburgh filed an emergency motion asking for an injunction to block the demolition, pending an appeal. But the appellate court said U.S. District Court Judge David Cercone acted properly in rejecting Preservation Pittsburgh's lawsuit.

The arena is to be razed to make way for a 25-acre development that includes retail, residential and office components. Mary Conturo, executive director of the city-county Sports and Exhibition Authority, said it will be a traditional demolition. "It's not an implosion, it will be sort of an orderly dismantling of the building," Conturo said.

She said the first step is peeling away the layers of the stainless steel dome. "Some of the layers are asbestos-containing materials," said Conturo. "So, piece by piece, portions of the materials will be removed and the asbestos will be removed and disposed of." She said that process alone will take until January, and the demolition will be completed in May.

In the meantime, the planning process for the redevelopment is continuing. "The Penguins (who own the development rights) will then be selecting developers and start looking at specific developments," Conturo said. "We'll begin design of the different infrastructure. So all of that work is being laid out according to a time schedule." That time schedule includes having the design of the roads around the planned development site completed before the end of the year.