Steelers, Pirates want North Shore development issues addressed
February 26, 2016 12:00 AM
Parking lots on the North Shore located near Heinz Field.
By Mark Belko / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Steelers and the Pirates argued Thursday that the city’s stadium authority isn’t doing enough to address future development issues on the North Shore in light of plans to build a new parking garage near Heinz Field.
Speaking for both teams, Mark Hart, the Steelers’ director of planning and development, said building the garage “in isolation” without addressing future development, timetables, financing and other issues “is going to cause additional problems, which we don’t want to do.”
While the teams are grateful the garage is being built, Mr. Hart said nothing has been done to come to grips with the other issues since he and Stanley Lederman, the authority’s board chairman, first broached the subject at last year’s Pirates’ opener.
“We’re now approaching almost a year later and we’re no closer to a global solution except for this project ... than we were almost a year ago, and that makes us very, very unhappy,” he said.
In response, Mr. Lederman said the authority is willing to negotiate such an agreement but stressed that it would be done in the context of the existing amended option agreement that governs the North Shore development.
That agreement, a subject of much contention since it was first adopted more than a decade ago, requires the teams and their developer, Continental Real Estate Cos., to start the next project — a $65 million, 250-unit apartment development next to PNC Park — in December.
Mr. Lederman pointedly remarked that the authority would “not be throwing out this option agreement and the amendments” in the discussions but hoped the parties could come to an amicable resolution.
“If that means that the option agreement will be amended again in some way, so be it. But it’s going to be because we feel that’s in the best interest of the taxpayers of the city of Pittsburgh, which is who we represent and we don’t lose sight of that,” he said.
Thursday’s exchange came at a stadium authority meeting during which the board agreed to pay Massaro Corp. $613,527 to be construction manager for the planned 1,002-space, six-floor garage and authorized the borrowing of $15 million from PNC and Dollar banks to pay for it.
The garage will be larger than the 798-space one originally proposed for Lot 1, the surface lot closest to Heinz Field. Taking into account the Lot 1 parking lost to the construction, the garage would net 615 spaces. It is being developed to make up for the 541 spaces being lost to new or recent development on the North Shore.
Asked after the meeting whether the teams were seeking to renegotiate the option agreement, Mr. Hart replied, “Not necessarily. We need to understand how we’re proceeding on Lot 4 [where the apartments would be built] and the other undeveloped parcels, and how we protect important elements like surface parking, the supply of parking, pedestrian access, those sorts of things.”
He added he didn’t know at this point if the teams would need more time beyond Dec. 1 to start the housing next to the ballpark. The authority granted an extension in November to that date because it didn’t want two construction projects going at the same time. That was the fourth extension the teams have received.
The authority, on the other hand, is hoping it will be able to come to more of a global agreement with the teams in the months ahead “so that you can take down that parcel at the end of this year happily and proceed with the development of the apartment building in lot number 4 and move on to complete your obligations under the option agreement in a timely fashion, Mr. Lederman said.
Construction of the new garage is expected to start in May or June. It is scheduled to be completed in spring 2017. The authority plans to pay for the garage by pledging parking revenues from it as well as those from the West General Robinson Street garage and other facilities.
Mark Belko: email@example.com or 412-263-1262.
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