Penguins could seek additional subsidies for housing on old arena site

As part of the Pittsburgh Penguins$290 million arena deal back in 2007, for which the team put in only about one-fifth of the costs (the rest came from the state and a company that got a state casino license in exchange), owner Mario Lemieux got development rights to the site of the team’s old arena. Which he still hasn’t developed yet, and which he may now demand more public subsidies for, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

The Penguins have been talking to various city and county officials, including members of [Mayor-elect Bill] Peduto’s staff, about the implications involved in increasing the level of affordable housing from 20 to 30 percent. They have said it likely would require some form of public aid to bridge the funding gap.

“If you’re going to add affordable housing to the project, it generally requires some form of subsidy,” [Penguins COO Travis] Williams said.

That could pose a challenge for Mr. Peduto, who has been trying to limit the amount of public money that goes into the development.

If the Penguins don’t build something there by the year 2017, they lose the development rights, so it seems like Peduto would actually be bargaining from a position of strength here. At least until Lemieux threatens to move the housing to Kansas City.

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One comment on “Penguins could seek additional subsidies for housing on old arena site

  1. It’s just one scam colliding with another. The “affordable housing” gambit usually works by forcing the market-rate buyers to subsidize the “affordable” units. In this case, someone is calling for a bit more honesty and asking the government, rather than homebuyers, to subsidize directly the low-income portion of the dwellings. Which is the way it should be – if government wants to subsidize housing, it should do so openly and transparently, without the pretense that it is the developer paying the freight for the subsidized units.

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