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URA approves $110M plan for concert venue, parking garage in the Lower Hill

Construction takes place next to the UPMC Steel Tower Building in Pittsburgh.
Lower Hill Redevelopment
A rendering of the $110 million project.

Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority will allow developers with the Pittsburgh Penguins' real estate arm to build an 80,000-square-foot concert venue in the Lower Hill District. The URA’s board approved the plan by a unanimous vote on Thursday.

Plans for the venue and an additional parking garage are part of a 28-acre site owned by the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Sports and Exhibition Authority. The development, led by the Delaware-based Buccini Pollin Group, is projected to cost $110 million to complete.

“We are indeed capturing and doing what we said we were going to do,” said board member Daniel Lavelle.

After development, the venue will be leased to and operated by Live Nation, although that plan is contingent on whether the developers comply with a detailed list of conditions agreed upon by the URA and SEA.

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The requirements include collecting a $2 surcharge on all tickets that will be diverted to a reinvestment fund for the Hill District for the first 10 years of operation; provisions that set a quota for contracts with minority and women-owned businesses; and an investment in renovations at the Ammon Recreation Center.

Developers have agreed to pay $400,000 for improvements at the center up front, with an additional $450,000 over the next two years, according to Hill Community Development Corporation director Marimba Milliones.

The site’s co-owner, the SEA, could take back the land if those conditions are not met. The design plans also include a public safety facility within the 319,000 square foot parking garage, as well as commercial space on Wylie Avenue.

The board on Thursday also approved the first allocations for both the Housing Preservation Program and Downtown Conversion Program funds.

Spring Capital Partners was awarded a $850,000 loan to preserve 25 apartments in Pittsburgh’s Knoxville neighborhood. All units at the 302 Zara Street property will be rented to households at or below 80% of the area median income.

Renovations at the Triangle Building at 926 Liberty Avenue downtown will also receive a $300,000 loan for the first URA-funded conversion of vacant office space into apartments, with commercial space on the first floor.

The pilot initiative aims to create more affordable housing by repurposing underutilized office space in the Golden Triangle. Representatives with Hullet Properties LLC said the project will set aside three of 15 apartments created for households at 50% of the AMI, though the rest will go for market rate prices.

Brett Walsh with Hullet said the building’s one four-bedroom apartment will be priced at a premium, thus offsetting costs for the property’s affordable units. The bottom floor will host a flower shop, and Walsh said the developers expect a restaurant, cafe and grocer will occupy the remaining space.

Jillian Forstadt is an education reporter at 90.5 WESA. Before moving to Pittsburgh, she covered affordable housing, homelessness and rural health care at WSKG Public Radio in Binghamton, New York. Her reporting has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition.