Planning Commission postpones vote on East Liberty development
December 14, 2016 12:00 AM
In this July photo, a crew demolishes the Penn Plaza apartments on Penn Avenue in East Liberty.
By Diana Nelson Jones / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A vote on the preliminary land development for 9.3 acres in East Liberty — known for the dislocation of residents of the Penn Plaza Apartments earlier this year — was postponed Tuesday evening after a lengthy hearing.
More than 100 people turned out for the city Planning Commission meeting, sitting on the floor, standing along walls and in the hallway at 200 Ross St. Many lined up to testify against a plan that includes no affordable homes in a 400-unit redevelopment that would include a Whole Foods Market.
Commissioners, saying they wanted more time to decide after listening to hours of testimony, will continue their discussions into the new year. A vote could come at the commission’s next meeting Jan . 10.
The plan was supported by City Councilman Ricky Burgess and the East Liberty Chamber of Commerce, among others. One Penn Plaza resident spoke to the developers’ generosity in providing relocation expenses, relocation assistance and in honoring feedback from the tenant council.
Jonathan Kamin, attorney for developer Pennley Park South, said 50 percent of the tax increments the developer realizes will go into a fund to build affordable housing, “$10 million over the first 10 years.”
Detractors said that is not enough to address the needs of low-income people who have an increasingly difficult time finding suitable units in places that provide amenities such as transit.
The preliminary plan includes 2.3 acres of green space and a continuation of St. Clair Street part way into the development, with a new street coming off Negley Avenue. The site also includes a reconfiguration of Enright Parklet.
Several stakeholder groups in the area asked the commission to reject the plan or postpone its vote, saying it failed to comply with conditions set forth in legislation that rezoned the area. The proposed park was supposed to be the same size as the current one but it’s smaller, and setback was not provided to save mature trees on part of the site.
Staff writer Andrew Goldstein contributed. Diana Nelson Jones: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1626.
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