Wednesday, October 19, 2011
First it was the Civic Arena, then it was Mellon Arena, but it was always known as the Igloo, where the Pittsburgh Penguins played hockey. At least it was until last season when Consol Energy Center was built across the street from the Igloo. Recently, I was flying out of Pittsburgh and picked up the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. There was an article on the court challenge to preserve the Igloo. A group known as Preservation Pittsburgh filed an injunction to stop the planned razing of the arena. The suit said that redevelopment of the 28-acre site would be an economic boon for the area. Let me try to understand this plan. You are going to ask for federal dollars to prop up a 50-year-old building that was severely dated, in major disrepair and loaded with asbestos. They wanted to preserve a landmark at the expense of 1200 housing units, 600,000 sq. ft. of office space and 200,000 sq. ft. of commercial space that would truly be economic development in a severely depressed area of Pittsburgh. Preservation Pittsburgh actually called the City Officials lacking innovation and integrity. Preservationists do have a place, but they need to know when to fold. They have no concept of the cost involved with preserving aging landmarks and holding onto the past. The city leaders in this case got it right. What a shot in the arm for such an economically depressed area as the Hill District in Pittsburgh.