United States: A Groundbreaking Community Agreement In Pittsburgh: A Renewed Vision For Urban Development & Community Participation

Last Updated: October 22 2014
Article by Gerald S. Dickinson and Peter L. Kogan

As part of the ongoing efforts to redevelop the 28-acre site of the former Civic Arena near Downtown Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Penguins' redevelopment subsidiary Pittsburgh Arena Real Estate Redevelopment LP recently signed a groundbreaking agreement with representatives of Pittsburgh's Hill District community, the City of Pittsburgh, and Allegheny County .

The agreement, known as the Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan (CCIP), outlines specific goals, strategies and processes for maximizing the inclusion of the Hill District community and its residents in various aspects of the Lower Hill District redevelopment project. The CCIP envisions, among other things, the creation of the largest Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district in the City of Pittsburgh to utilize the proceeds of future development on the Lower Hill District for redevelopment projects within the Greater Hill District, which encompasses the Lower, Middle and Upper Hill District areas.

The CCIP was signed after more than three years of negotiations and public meetings involving the Penguins, local community leaders and elected officials on how to maximize the redevelopment of the Lower Hill District and have that development act as a catalyst to benefit the greater Hill District. In addition to its stated goals, the signing of the CCIP enabled the Penguins organization and City and County officials to move forward with previously stalled master plan approval and private redevelopment efforts for the Lower Hill redevelopment site.

The  Preliminary Land Development Plan (PLDP)  will reconnect the Hill District to Downtown Pittsburgh. The PLDP is the document that identifies the guidelines for the development plan, street types, building types, signage, lighting and street furniture. The Plan designates open space and landscape standards, systems and network integration (utilities), sustainability goals and objectives, and off-site improvements. 

The CCIP's goals are to generate jobs, businesses and wealth building opportunities for Greater Hill District residents. The document is one of the most comprehensive community benefit arrangements in the United States. It seeks to build on the success of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization in bringing jobs and economic investment to the community in connection with the development of CONSOL Energy Center and to capitalize on the new opportunities created by the redevelopment of the Lower Hill District.

The following are some of the primary benefits that the CCIP envisions for the Lower Hill District redevelopment site.

Minority and Women Business Enterprises
The minority and women business enterprise (M/WBE) component of the CCIP facilitates opportunities for business enterprises owned and operated by minorities and women to participate in the ownership, development, design, construction, operation, and management of the redevelopment of the Lower Hill District redevelopment site. Further, the percentage of residential development to be developed on the site by an M/WBE includes a minimum of 250 units.

Affordable Housing
The CCIP also includes a groundbreaking affordable housing component. The CCIP promotes a housing program that will provide opportunities for affordable housing and home ownership on the site and throughout the Greater Hill District. The formula for determining affordable rates is determined by Area Median Income (AMI). AMI is the median (or midway point) in the family-income range for a metropolitan area. CCIP terms address the developer requirement to provide affordable residential development on the site. Specifically, 20% of the housing stock will be affordable housing. Of the 20%, 15% will be set aside for households earning at least 80% AMI, 2.5% will be set aside for households earning at least 70% AMI and 2.5% will be set aside for households earning at least 60% AMI.

Wealth Building
The CCIP seeks to cultivate opportunities for residents of the Greater Hill District to form their own businesses that could benefit from investment in the redevelopment of the Lower Hill. Further, the agreement envisions an investment in future development opportunities that may arise in the Greater Hill District.

Cultural and Community Legacy Initiatives
The CCIP seeks to enhance cultural and community legacy initiatives to incorporate the history of the Greater Hill District community in the design of the public areas and to preserve the vision and spirit of the Preliminary Land Development Plan (PLDP).

Greater Hill District  Neighborhood Reinvestment Fund
The CCIP provides for the establishment of the Greater Hill District Neighborhood Reinvestment Fund (Reinvestment Fund). The Project Stakeholders will use commercially reasonable efforts to facilitate one or more revenue streams to be deposited into the Reinvestment Fund from future development on the Lower Hill District redevelopment site to fund long-term development projects in the Greater Hill District.

The Lower Hill District redevelopment has the potential to be one of the most transformative development projects in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region. The redevelopment of the Lower Hill will reconnect the Downtown, Uptown and Hill District communities and will serve as a catalyst for economic development throughout the Greater Hill District community. The CCIP, and its primary components outlined in this blog, serves as the redevelopment's vehicle to drive this comprehensive project forward.

This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

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Gerald S. Dickinson
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