PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Planning Commission has approved the construction of a new music venue and parking lot on the site of the Civic Arena.
As KDKA-TV’s money editor Jon Delano reports, this is one step closer to a project that has been in the making for a long time, despite criticism from some community groups.
More than a decade after talks began to redevelop the old Civic Arena site after the Penguins moved to PPG Paints Arena, the planning commission approved the site’s new indoor music venue on Tuesday. .
“This will be a venue operated by Live Nation,” said Craig Dunham, senior vice president of development at Penguin.
“This allows them to offer a different type of space, a different size space, and bring talent to the area. Overall, it can accommodate about 4,500 patrons, of which about 2,200 are permanent guests. It’s a seat,” says Dunham.
Dunham said the capacity of the music venue, which is larger than Stage AE but smaller than PPG and Acrysure, will allow Live Nation to book a wider range of music entertainers and other uses.
“We plan to set it up for corporate events and conferences as well,” says Dunham.
Dunham said the venue has not yet been named, but the naming rights will likely be sold. Until then, it will be called by its location on the site map.
“We don’t have a name. We’re poetically calling it Block E Music Venue. We need to get better at it.”
There will be a new 900-space parking lot adjacent to the music venue, and retail outlets, possibly restaurants and bars, along the venue’s storefronts at Wylie Avenue and Logan Street.
“We believe the primary retail opportunities in the Lower Hill development will center around food and beverage,” said Dunham.
With approval from the Pittsburgh Planning Commission, Dunham said the next step is approval by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Sports and Exhibition Authority, which owns the facility. If approved quickly, the garage floor could be broken by the summer.
Of the new music venue, Dunham said:
However, no consensus has yet been reached as some community groups have expressed concerns.
Hill Community Development Corporation CEO Marimba Milliones said the commission failed to attach a community benefit agreement or CBA to ensure Hill District got its fair share.
“The planning commission said it was outside their mandate, but the city ordinance clearly states that the planning commission’s job is to ensure the social and economic impact of the city of Pittsburgh. We have,” says Millions.
Second, Penguin agreed to a $2 ticket surcharge for the neighborhood reinvestment fund, but that was also not codified.
“Penns put it in a press release, but has yet to confirm it in writing or with a signed document,” Millions says.
Delano: “Are there any commitments for this $2 surcharge as far as penguins are concerned?”
Millions fear that the private guards guarding this land will harass African-Americans walking the Lower Hills.
“Residents shouldn’t feel that this neighborhood was made for someone else. They should feel that this neighborhood is for them,” Millions says.
“We certainly understand that there are complex issues around policing and bias,” Dunham said, adding, “We are working with private employers and private operators of public spaces to raise employee awareness. As a person, I will do the best I can.”