In today's Post-Gazette, it looks like the Penguins are about to select a developer for the former Civic/Mellon Arena site in the Lower Hill neighborhood of the city. The city owns the land, but the Penguins own the development rights to the land. An earlier proposal has called for essentially a continuation of a Lower Hill development, Crawford Square, which consists primarily of single detached, side-by-side duplex, and row-homes. I am hopeful that whoever the new developer is will consider higher density housing especially with the housing market getting even hotter.
Here's what I would recommend for the former Civic Arena site:
- Multiple-unit housing structures at least 6 stories in height immediately adjacent to Crawford Square
- Ground-floor retail and restaurant use for the residential buildings as well as office buildings
- Office and hotel buildings should be built on the land closest to Downtown, and they should be no shorter than 12-to-18 stories. Three PNC Plaza could be used as a reference. It's 23-stories tall, and contains sufficient office space as well as a 180-room hotel and residential use.
The Lower Hill District should be considered as a gateway into the central business district and designed accordingly. Class A office space is at a premium, and the housing market in Pittsburgh is not showing signs of slowing down. According to a Tribune-Review Article (Pittsburgh Housing Market Heats Up), the number of sales agreements jumped 17 percent from this time a year ago. In other previous news articles, the city cannot build new housing units fast enough to keep up with demand.