Reclaiming the Lower Hill
"Public Money for Public Benefit!"
In the 1950s and early 1960s, much of the Lower Hill District was demolished to make way for a planned cultural district for more affluent Pittsburgh natives. 1,300 buildings on 95 acres of land were demolished, which included 413 businesses. As a result, over 8,000 residents were forced out of their homes and had to relocate. These residents received little to no compensation. The Hill District, as a result of these events, lost its commercial core, a significant proportion of its population, and its long-time connection to downtown Pittsburgh. It was left isolated, disregarded, and disconnected from job opportunities—and starved of capital investment. Which brings us to:
What is the Lower Hill Redevelopment Project?
The Lower Hill Redevelopment Project aims to redevelop the 28-acres currently occupied by surface parking lots and the former Civic Arena site in the Lower Hill District neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The project has received a public subsidy and is subject to a public process that includes approval by local government entities including the City of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh City Council, Department of City Planning, City Planning Commission, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Sports & Exhibition Authority.
The Lower Hill Redevelopment Project as seen in the Hill District Master Plan
Why is the Hill District community concerned?
The City of Pittsburgh wants to redevelop the Lower Hill parking lots and former Civic Arena site. The Pittsburgh Penguins received the right to develop infrastructure on this public land. They are receiving millions of public tax dollars. And they will make millions in private profits from the development. The Hill District Consensus Group holds the strong contention that:
Public money should be used for public benefit.
Yet, the Penguins refuse to follow the Hill District Community Plan. They also refuse to support community benefits. So, where is the public benefit?
What is the Fair Housing Market Study?
The Hill District Community is concerned that the Penguins’ proposed housing prices will effectively exclude the vast majority of African-American households in Pittsburgh from living in a redeveloped Lower Hill District. Read the Letter to City Planning and sign-on today!
What is the Community's vision for the Lower Hill?
30% Affordable Housing
All families should have the opportunity to stay together by finding an affordable place to live in the communities where they grew up. In the Lower Hill, 30% of housing must be affordable for low-income households (at or below 50% area median income).
20% Business Inclusion
All local businesses should benefit from public investment in commercial development, especially in the communities which they serve. In the Lower Hill, 20% of commercial space must be available for Hill businesses to own or operate, especially for businesses historically displaced by urban renewal.
All communities should have the power to preserve the cultural legacy of their neighborhoods, especially when addressing historical wrongs. In the Lower Hill, the community must have control over street naming rights and the Curtain Call Garden Passage must be built.
All neighborhoods should share in the prosperity generated by public assets. Each year, the Pittsburgh Penguins make millions in profits from the Lower Hill parking lots, land owned by the public. In the Lower Hill, one dollar for every car parked must go into a community fund to help implement ideas from the Hill District Community Plan.
What is the Public Process?
The Pittsburgh Penguins want to create a Specially Planned District (SPD) that will allow them write their own zoning rules in the Lower Hill. The Penguins need to submit a Preliminary Land Development Plan (PLDP) and an updated Specially Planned District Zoning Text. The PLDP is a master plan for specially planned districts and include details for infrastructure, development patterns, landscape design, and architectural details. The Zoning Text legally sets the rules for what can be built in a specially planned district.
Steps of the public process:
Public Meetings- Meetings happen in different communities to review the plan.
Off-the-record Briefing- The developers brief the commission on the plans.
Planning Commission Hearing- The developers presented their plans at a public hearing. The public can ask questions and make public comment.
Planning Commission Recommendation- The Planning Commission decided whether or not to recommend the developers to send the PLDP and SPD application to City Council.
City Council Hearing- City Council held a public hearing on the application.
City Council Decision- City Council decided whether or not to approve the application.
The Pittsburgh Department of City Planning created a project page for the Lower Hill Redevelopment Project featuring project documents, public process timeline, and upcoming dates for the important on-the-record public hearings.
If the Penguins do not support the Community Plan?
On September 19, 2014, the Pittsburgh Penguins submitted their Lower Hill plans to City Planning and started the official SPD application process. However, the Penguins did not present their plans to the Hill District community. They did not follow the Hill District Community Plan. And they did not get community support.
The Community will not support the Penguins Plan.
All community concerns must be addressed before the community will support the SPD application and the Penguins Plan.To hold the Penguins legally accountable, all community benefits must be included in the PLDP and the Zoning Text.