Groups can't challenge Stadium Authority land sale, lawyer says

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The city's Stadium Authority is asking a judge to throw out a lawsuit filed by two groups challenging the sale of land between Heinz Field and PNC Park for a proposed hotel development, claiming both lacked standing to press their claims.

Pittsburgh United and affiliate Northside United filed an appeal last month seeking to overturn a decision by the authority to sell one North Shore parcel and portions of three others to Continental Real Estate Cos. for a Hyatt Place hotel development. The groups claimed the sales price, at $1.32 million, or $8 a square foot, was "substantially below market value" for the properties.

In its response, the Stadium Authority argued that giving the groups taxpayer standing to press such claims could lead to a "potential nightmare" in which every property sale initiated by a government agency could be subject to litigation and court scrutiny if someone disagreed with the sales price.

"This isn't standing; it's insanity," wrote Joseph Leibowicz, the authority's attorney in the response.

Firing back, Northside United Chair Michael Glass said the two groups were simply "challenging the status quo for how development deals are done in Pittsburgh."

"It is outrageous for the Stadium Authority to claim there is no public right to question whether they are serving the public's interests," he said in a statement.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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