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Big plans for former Civic Arena site advances after URA and SEA sign off

Plans for former Civic Arena in Lower Hill one step closer to reality
Plans for former Civic Arena in Lower Hill one step closer to reality 02:41

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Plans for the former Civic Arena in the Lower Hill are one step closer to reality after getting the green light Thursday from the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Sports and Exhibition Authority. 

It comes with a promise to give back to the people who live there.

The URA and the SEA both voted to approve community commitments in separate meetings for the $110 million project at Block E. The Penguins owner with the Buccini/Pollin Group, the developer of the Lower Hill Redevelopment, building the project. It includes a live music venue with 4,500 seats, a parking garage with more than 900 spaces and a small amount of retail.

Dr. Kimberly Ellis is the director of community, arts and culture for the developer.

"What we're seeing is purposeful reinvestment," Ellis said. "This does not happen without wholesale community empowerment, government accountability and corporate leadership. We're at the nexus, and it's really great to see all of these stars aligned."

It comes three years since community commitments were made in October 2019 and more than 10 years since the arena closed.

According to Marimba Milliones, the CEO of Hill CDC, they were able to get seven out of 10 commitments, including job training and hiring, securing funds for the youth recreation center and a $2 ticket surcharge.

In a statement, Milliones said during the next 60 days until financial closing, "The Hill District community will need continued advocacy to elected officials, URA and SEA board members to ensure that all agreements are contractually bound."

William Marshall, a longtime Hill resident and the founder of Stop the Violence Pittsburgh, said this is a great day for the district.

"This is going to help bring the Hill District back," Marshall said.

In particular, he feels it's a strong step in the right direction after years of disinvestment in the community.

"This mainly helps a number of people, maybe younger people get an opportunity to come down here and get some jobs," Marshall said. "It'll showcase actually Pittsburgh in a better light, where we have more venues and opportunities for people to come in to visit our city and do something in the city of Pittsburgh."

Crews plan to start construction later this summer. The developer hopes the parking garage is completed by late summer 2024 and the music venue by late 2025.

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