Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Arena Facing Demolition after Council Vote

Pittsburgh Council voted against designating the Civic Arena as a historic structure today.

Council has the final authority to grant historic status, and the decision will likely result in the demolition of the dome.

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak says she's disappointed at the level of taxpayer money going into the redevelopment plan for the 28-acre property.

"There has been an estimate that looks at even the one-year public subsidies to be around $76 million, and we're going to spend millions of dollars to demolish the arena," says Rudiak. "My concern is about the massive amounts of public subsidies going into this project when we can't even maintain the streets that we have."

Rudiak says the Pittsburgh Penguins’ plan to redevelop the site for retail and residential use may become a failed venture.

Councilman Bruce Kraus says he acknowledges that the redevelopment plan may be flawed right now.

“But I want to get past what is possible on that site, in terms of buildings and business and office, and just talk about the importance of reconnecting Oakland and the Upper Hill with the Lower Hill and Downtown, and the importance of what Oakland is today to the economic health and well-being of Pittsburgh," says Kraus.

Kraus says he'd also like to reconfigure the street grid on the Arena property to better accommodate public transit and green development.

The 6-3 vote denying the arena historic status came after a negative recommendation from the city's Historic Review Commission. Preservationists may still sue to keep the Igloo standing.

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