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As Deadline Looms, an Update on Civic Arena Site Development

The Pittsburgh Penguins won the rights to develop the 28-acre site of the now demolished Civic Arena in the 2007 deal to build the CONSOL Energy Center.

Under that agreement, the team was to draw down the first parcel by Oct. 31 or possibly lose the development rights. The Penguins are asking the city and county to push that deadline back a year.

Opposing this request is Pittsburgh City Councilman Daniel Lavelle, who represents the Hill District. Lavelle said the Penguins and Hill District leaders are still at odds over minority participation in the project. Another point of contention is the amount of affordable housing to be built on the site. Lavelle, however, does not believe delaying the deadline shows promise for both organizations.

“Unfortunately, this site sits in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in this entire country," he said. "This should be an opportunity to sort of rectify that and lift these individuals out of poverty, with the contracting and business opportunities that will exist on that site.”

Marimba Milliones, executive director of the Hill Community Development Corporation, said a revitalization of the neighborhood could be a win-win situation for the city.

“The first thing we have to recognize is there does not have to be a loser when you’re talking about a development that exceeds $1.5 billion," Milliones said. "Why would local government be a loser, or our region, for that matter? There’s enough to go around.”

With talks still underway about development of the site Milliones remains hopeful.

“I think the important thing is for us to find the middle ground that is in the best interest of the entire group,” she said.