The Penguins know all about the blue lines and the red line on the ice. Now city Councilman Bill Peduto has drawn his own lines off the ice regarding the hockey team's plans to redevelop the former Civic Arena site.
Mr. Peduto, the Democratic nominee for mayor, said Wednesday that if the Penguins secure an $18 million federal grant to redevelop the 28 acres in the lower Hill District, he doesn't want them coming to the city asking for more public funding.
At the same time, he's urging the team to use a portion of whatever money it does receive to make improvements to other parts of the Hill District -- specifically Crawford and Pride streets and parts of Fifth Avenue -- not just the 28 acres itself.
And he believes the Penguins could be more inclusive in their discussions with the Hill community about the proposed redevelopment.
Reached afterward, David Morehouse, the team's CEO, declined comment on the councilman's remarks.
Mr. Peduto, the prohibitive favorite to become Pittsburgh's next mayor, outlined his positions in a letter he sent to the Penguins after they asked for his support for the $18 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant application.
The money would be used for the development of roads, utilities and other infrastructure at the arena site with an estimated cost of about $40 million.
Mr. Peduto said the Penguins and the city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority, which owns part of the 28 acres, have already received a $15 million state grant for the work. They also are seeking a state loan to help pay for improvements.
The team, he noted, also receives all revenue from the public parking near Consol Energy Center, including a new 800-space lot at the former arena site. It also will have access to $15 million in credits to help buy the land it will need to redevelop the 28-acre site.
Mr. Peduto wants to draw the line right there.
If the Penguins get the TIGER grant, "they can't come to the public for more money," he said. "We have got to rebuild neighborhoods in this city. As long as only one developed project is getting all the money, we'll never see the other neighborhoods developed."
To date, the team has not contributed anything toward the site improvements, he said.
"We're paying for all of the infrastructure without them putting a dollar of their own money in. Nobody else gets that. Nobody. And their argument is that's what the Steelers and Pirates got [on the North Shore] and my argument back to them is that's why the SEA's going bankrupt," he said, referring to the agency's chronic financial woes.
Mr. Peduto, a former city stadium authority board member, said he won't support using tax increment financing to pay for roads, utilities or a parking garage at the site. If the team wants to build a garage, it can use parking revenue for that purpose.
"It's just inherently unfair that one organization would even ask to take everything. So they've got to learn to share," he said.
If there's to be tax increment financing, Mr. Peduto would prefer to utilize it for the middle Hill District, as part of his larger vision to develop the corridor between Downtown and Oakland.
"It's not that [the Penguins] are being picked on. It's not that they're being asked to do something that anybody else is not being asked to do. It's just that we're looking at different priorities in how we're going to rebuild this city," he said.
If the Penguins do not receive the TIGER grant, "then we have to look," Mr. Peduto said. "That's a different scenario."
The councilman also called upon the team to utilize some of the funding it does receive to make street improvements to the area just beyond the arena site, referred to as the Crawford Street corridor in the Hill District master plan. That would include Crawford, Pride, and Fifth across from Consol Energy Center.
"Otherwise we're doing the exact same thing we did with the Civic Arena. We disinvested from the neighborhood and invested only in the arena," he said.
City Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, who represents the Hill, could not be reached for comment.
While Mr. Morehouse would not comment Wednesday, the team in the past has defended its record in the Hill, noting that it donated $1 million to help develop a neighborhood grocery and raised $3 million from corporate partners for other projects.
The Penguins currently are in discussions with Hill leaders about the proposed arena redevelopment, which is expected to include nearly 1,200 residential units, 691,962 square feet of office space and 200,101 square feet of retail space. There's also talk of a 150-room hotel and a 2,310-seat cineplex.
Team officials have been holding meetings in the neighborhood and talking to stakeholders that have included Mr. Lavelle, state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Hill, and the Hill Community Development Corp. Mr. Peduto said he would like to see those discussions broadened to include the Hill District Consensus Group, the Hill House Association, and elected leaders such as state Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, and county Councilman Bill Robinson.
In the past, Mr. Peduto has ruffled the feathers of the Penguins by supporting a proposal by the Hill consensus group to get the team to contribute $1 from each of the daily parking fees at the arena lots to a Hill improvement fund. He also opposed the Civic Arena's demolition.
Mark Belko: email@example.com or 412-263-1262. First Published September 5, 2013 4:00 AM