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Politics & Government

Local, State Leaders Attend Groundbreaking at Site of Former Civic Arena

Erika Beras
90.5 WESA

Righting the wrongs of the past appeared to be the theme at a groundbreaking for the Lower Hill redevelopment infrastructure, which will be a 28-acre mixed-use development.

“This project will directly benefit our local economy and residents of the Hill District for decades to come through additional development and job creation,” state Sen. Wayne Fontana said at Monday's groundbreaking.

It’s been nearly half a century since thousands of mostly black people were displaced from 95 acres of what was then the vibrant Lower Hill. The area was razed to make room for a now-demolished Civic Arena and parking lots. Now, the area will be an area that leaders hope will re-bridge the Hill District to downtown.

“Fifty years later, we’re trying to re-transform this area and this neighborhood,” said Gov. Tom Wolf, “and trying to undo some of the problems that we caused by that urban renewal 50 years ago.”

The development will rebuild some of the street grid and will include 630,000 square feet of office space, 250,000 square feet of retail and entertainment, a hotel, over a thousand residential units and green space.

“We’ve looked for a way that goes just beyond one building, just brick and mortar and just 28 acres,” said Mayor Bill Peduto. “Looking for ways to see the wealth that will be developed in this development to be able to benefit everything around us. From Uptown, to the Middle Hill to the Upper Hill. And the connection that everyone always talks about about the potential — of connecting Oakland to downtown.”