Monthly Archives: August 2013

Thursday: Making Progress

Haunted Destinations

by Bram Reichbaum

Feels like, what do you call it? Moving forward?

This week, four members of council — President Darlene Harris, Councilman Daniel Lavelle, Councilman Bill Peduto and the bill’s sponsor Councilman Ricky Burgess — voted for the [Larimer] legislation. But two council members — Natalia Rudiak and Bruce Kraus — abstained because of reservations about the bill. (Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith and Councilman Corey O’Connor were out of the room when the vote was taken.) (P-G, Moriah Balingit)

A high-impact, humanely wrought and timely proposal is now well-vetted and more fiscally prudent by one-quarter.

A real concern:

But Ms. Rudiak said she’s still concerned about the source of the money and that the city will cut out other projects in the pipeline. About $2.9 million in capital funds over six years would be a part of the city’s contribution to the project, and she worries about the impact of the allocation on the city’s dwindling capital budget. (ibid)

Some perspective: the cap budget was for a time about $40 million annually. We borrowed recently and pumped that to around $80 million, but that boost should wear off soon. Remember not only do we build and renovate structures with that money each year, we also pave and maintain roads with it.

If and when this development starts generating revenue for the City, perhaps we might track it, and earmark the proceeds back into the capital budget? Just a thought.

District 7 presently lacks a Council representative as we discuss the possibility of bumping other projects in the pipeline. Public service message.


What is next?

The Lower Hill Redevelopment Project will be one of the largest redevelopment projects the City of Pittsburgh has ever seen. Specifically, the project aims to redevelop the 28-acres currently occupied by surface parking lots and the former Civic Arena site. The project will receive public subsidy and is subject to a public process and approval by local government.

As of Summer 2013, the Pittsburgh Penguins Corporation is moving through the public process for the project. For a project this large to move forward, the Penguins want to create a Specially Planned District to replace existing zoning with new zoning for future development.

That is according to the HSDC page entitled “Inclusionary Zoning“.

Downtown is prepared and able to grow east now. The City and the Penguins have done what they need to do to assure that already. But if the Hill District also rises to meet Downtown and interlace with it meaningfully, each will be able to feed the others’ vitality for decades to come. And Downtown could really, really use a strong Hill if it is to become a lively 24-hour community.

How do we encourage that? The Pens have held all the cards since they feinted a move to Kansas City, but city government will soon be able to recapture a degree of initiative through planning and zoning. Making that leverage count will take not only a lot of brokering and negotiation, but also a lot of patient conviction.

BONUS: PWSA and Alcosan are both gearing up to charge ratepayers their share in upgrading our region’s outdated water systems. Remember the Triathlon.