Meeting On Hill District Development

After years of planning, developers with the Pittsburgh Penguins went before the city's planning commission. KDKA's Nicole Ford has more.

Video Transcript

- Well, after years of planning and conversations, developers with the Pittsburgh Penguins went before the city's planning commission today. The conversation is surrounding the first project at the old Civic Arena site. Nicole Ford shows how community members feel after the years of waiting for change.

NICOLE FORD: Behind me is a section of parking that's a proposed 26-story building. That building will potentially host the First National Bank headquarters. Now, the developers are calling this the beginning of the foundation of this project at the former site of the Civic Arena but not everyone agrees.

For hours, developers, community members, and historians went step-by-step through a project that could change the landscape of the lower Hill.

- We are hoping that you'll see that this reinvestment plan is a fulcrum that lifts folks out of poverty but also creates wealth on the other end.

NICOLE FORD: It's a project years in the making. Finally, it's being seen by the city's planning commission. While the developers tout community approval, business owners we spoke with aren't on the same page. Those Hill District residents would rather see the promises of affordable housing and residential areas before the big commercial piece.

LASHAWN BURTON-FAULK: It's a shiny, pretty building, but what about the footprints in the sand for folks of color or the socioeconomically disadvantaged in the future.

NICOLE FORD: It's a concern that developers hope to ease by laying out plans to invest not just into the lower Hill with the headquarters at First National Bank, but by creating projects in the middle and upper Hill, too.

BILL SITTIG: This is a first investment. If for reasons beyond our control it's the only investment, you have the catalytic investment of a bank, a headquarters, that will add to the economic vitality of the Hill District. And I think that's a great start.

NICOLE FORD: Some other concerns brought forth in the planning commission included the artwork and design not paying homage to the history of the Hill District. Another organization that has brought forth concerns is the Community Development Corporation. We are waiting to get a statement from that group, and we will be posting it on KDKA dotcom.

Nicole Ford, KDKA News.