Panel impressed with Penguin's hotel plans

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For a first date, yesterday's meeting between proponents of an upscale hotel to be built adjacent to the Penguins' new arena and members of the City Contextual Design Advisory Panel seemed to go pretty well.

"We danced well together, didn't we?" Jeffrey P. Slusarick, of DL Astorino Horizon Architects, said after the session at which he introduced the panel members to plans for a 132-room hotel on a one-acre parcel along Centre Avenue, next to the new arena.

The seven-story hotel, which has yet to be linked with a hotel carrier, marks the Penguins' first bid to fulfill the development potential associated with the $290 million arena project.

"We think it's an exciting first step to the development around the arena," said Penguins President David Morehouse. "We're very happy to be moving ahead this quickly. This hotel is going to create jobs. It's going to create tax revenue for the region."

Mr. Morehouse described the project as "a luxury hotel with limited services," principally aimed at accommodating those in town for arena events. Preliminary drawings indicate that half of the rooms will be suites. There will be a street-level restaurant with a patio opening up toward the arena and there will be some conference facilities, but not as much as you would find in some other hotels.

Officials cautioned that, at this time, the Penguins and developer Horizon Properties only have a memorandum of understanding on the project and many details, including cost, remain to be worked out. Still, members of Design Advisory Panel expressed support, with more than one member saying, "This looks great."

Cecil-based Horizon is involved in the construction of the new Dick's Sporting Goods headquarters in Findlay and also developed the Hampton Inn & Suites hotel near The Meadows. It is developer of the Southpointe II project in Washington County.

Officials hope to start construction of the hotel by the start of the new year and have it completed when the new arena opens before the start of the 2010-11 hockey season.

The hotel will compete with several in the area, including the 402-room Marriott Pittsburgh City Center, which bills itself as the official hotel of the Penguins.

Before the arena opens, the Penguins also will try to find tenants for ground-level retail space along one side of the building on Fifth Avenue.

Staff writer Mark Belko contributed to this report. Dan Majors can be reached at or 412-263-1456.


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