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Pittsburgh Penguins Say They Will 'Cease' Lower Hill Development

Keith Srakocic
Fans walk past the entrance to PPG Paints Arena before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, Saturday, May 13, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced today they will stop development in the Lower Hill on the former Civic Arena site. The decision came shortly after the Urban Redevelopment Authority delayed a vote on the first project planned for the 28-acre site, an office tower for First National Bank.

URA board members said before they could approve the plan they needed more information about how the development would benefit residents of the greater Hill District. They voted unanimously to table the vote for two weeks to allow for further discussion.

In a statement, Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse expressed disappointment that the URA would delay a project expected to create thousands of jobs and investment in the Hill District.

“At this point, given the current economic conditions and the apparent lack of support from the URA, we are ceasing our development operations on the Lower Hill,” he wrote.

Community members and advocates have consistently raised concerns about exactly how promises made by the Penguins to the Hill District would be enforced.

URA board members and Penguins officials stressed that the project would come back before the board many times, and would allow for public scrutiny.

It’s been more than a decade since negotiations over the future of the Lower Hill began.

On Friday, Mayor Bill Peduto released a statement, saying, "The City of Pittsburgh remains fully committed to delivering a transformative development to the Lower Hill District in partnership with the Pittsburgh Penguins and BPG...The City and URA are working closely to advance a vote in the coming days that will build off that partnership and take the next step forward in seeing this vision come to reality." 

This story was updated at 12:19 p.m. on May 15, 2020, to include a statement from Mayor Peduto.