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City And Developer Schedule Public Meetings On Future Of The Penn Plaza Site

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A conceptual drawing shows part of the planned redevelopment of the former Penn Plaza site, as presented in a preliminary plan submitted to the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning by LG Realty Advisors and their team.";

The first of two community meetings on the initial plan for the roughly 9-acre site will be held the evening of Wednesday, March 21 at Eastminster Church. The second is scheduled for Monday, April 16 at the same location.

After a months-long volley of information, Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning determined in February that the developer’s preliminary plan was complete. The land is owned by LG Realty Advisors, Inc.

Company president Lawrence Gumberg said last month they were 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," he said in an email.

Gumberg 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.

LG Realty submitted a revised amended preliminary land development plan (RAPDLP) three times after they, 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 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. The project is expected to host office and retail space, and to annually generate $500,000 in real estate taxes. Gumberg expects the project to be constructed in two phases, with the first phase beginning in 2018.

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.

The two public meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in Eastminster Church’s Fellowship Hall. Details will be posted to the project’s page on the City Planning website. The city will also begin the planning process for Enright Park.

Margaret J. Krauss is WESA’s senior reporter. She covers development and transportation, and has produced award-winning podcasts on housing, work, and Pittsburgh’s lesser-known history. Before joining the newsroom full time, she covered the challenges facing Pennsylvania cities as a statewide reporter, and spent another life as an assistant editor for National Geographic Kids Magazine in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at mkrauss@wesa.fm.
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