$2 ticket surcharge at planned entertainment venue would support Hill District revitalization

A portion of all tickets sold at a planned entertainment venue on Pittsburgh’s former Civic Arena site will go toward revitalizing the Hill District.

Plans to develop the 4,600-seat entertainment venue, along with a six-story parking garage, retail space and a public safety station, on the former arena site in the Lower Hill received approval from the city’s Planning Commission on Tuesday.

The entertainment venue, to be operated by Live Nation, will be an indoor-only facility. Original plans had called for making it an indoor/outdoor venue similar to Stage AE on the North Shore, but those plans were scrapped because of noise concerns, officials said.

The project’s development team said it is endorsing a $2 surcharge on tickets sold for events at the new entertainment venue.

Proceeds from the ticket surcharges will be directed to the Greater Hill District Neighborhood Reinvestment Fund. The fund is being administered by the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority to provide grants for development projects throughout the Hill District neighborhood.

When created, officials said the fund would be supported by a program that provides tax abatements to owners of buildings on the former arena site for 10 years. Half of the tax abatements were earmarked to go to the reinvestment fund.

In September 2021, the site’s developer, the Buccini/Pollin Group, placed $7.1 million into the reinvestment fund up front. That amounted to a projected decade’s worth of city, school and county property tax abatements.

The ticket surcharge would further support the reinvestment fund.

“We made a commitment to listen to the community, and we take that seriously,” said Chris Buccini, co-president of the development company. “Community members suggested recurring revenues from a surcharge could be used to support the Greater Hill District, and we agree. We are excited to move forward with this next major investment in the city of Pittsburgh.”

The $11 million development plans approved Tuesday also call for a six-story parking garage with 900 spaces for vehicles and room for bicycles. The plans also call for retail space and a small business incubator in the entertainment venue, along with a public safety station on the site.

Commissioners approved the plans on a 4-0 vote, with Commissioner Rachel O’Neill abstaining. Four of the commission’s nine members were absent.

The Buccini/Pollin Group said the project would create about 500 construction jobs, plus 200 permanent jobs, with 30% participation from minority-owned construction firms.

Julia Felton is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Julia by email at jfelton@triblive.com or via Twitter .