Thursday, January 11, 2007

Arena Re-Imagined - News Feature - City Paper

Rob gets nominated for Pittsburgher of the Year.
Pittsburgh - Mellon Arena Re-Imagined - News - News Feature - Pittsburgh City Paper Rob Pfaffmann and other preservationists have resumed a four-year-old campaign to keep Mellon right where it is -- and put the structure to new uses.
We talked (Rob, Violet and I) for a moment at the holiday party hosted by Bike Pittsburgh and the Riverlife Task Force in December.
Participants proposed a "super kid center" with year-round ice and roller rinks, an "ethnic marketplace" and even a "biosphere" modeled after Montreal's re-used Olympic velodrome, which now serves as an environmental education showcase. Participants also envisioned new housing nearby, a crescent-shaped park around the arena, and an overlook on top. Drawings show a large slice of the city dramatically visible through the retracted arena roof.

Today, preservationists still believe the arena could have a new life, and that demolition shouldn't be the only option.
The only tweek to this -- is keep the velodrom! Perhaps we can get the parts from Montreal and stuff that into the arena, then it would be meaningful to say 'go down around the arena, @N.'

Sure. Save the Arena. Make this part of town way more attractive for local business location. Build something that home owners of downtown and Hill District -- as well as Polish Hill, South Side, Bluff and Strip District residents / new investors would want to be close to.

This next point is very important. Sala Udin, take note to what follows.

Many Hill District residents regard the structure as an obstacle to more beneficial development -- and a jarring reminder of redevelopment promises yet to be fulfilled.
First, get over it! This isn't the '60s, still. Seriously, keeping the existing arena is less jarring than a new one. And, a re-deployed civic arena is going to be better blended into the existing landscape once the rest of Mario's properties are purchased by Barden. The surface parking lots of today get hidden and blended. And, when we keep the arena, new buildings get built the hill, throughout the streets of the whole neighborhood. Otherwise, a churn of the same parcel occurs.

You know, the grass field at Heinz Field needs to stay green all season long. What if the Sports and Exibition Authority had the big idea of moving Heinz Field from its present location to a spot two blocks away, sorta where Three Rivers Stadium stood. This way the land around Heinz Field gets the long awaited development that has been promised. And, the grass might be more hardy there, on the sacred spaces once occupied by Exhibition Park.

What good does it do us to build a new arena right next the old one, implode the old one with money still owed on it, and have a net gain of one food court that sells $3 pretzels. Heck, the dipping cheese won't even be a good once they outlaw the trans-fats.

A more beneficial development can sprout out of the shell of the existing Civic Arena. We need to noodle as to what can occur there. The activities and the flow of people to and around the Hill District and Downtown could be better, way, way better than what is attracted by NHL Hockey.

The hoped for gracious near-town living won't come to the lower Hill Distict until and unless a great recreational venue is in the same neighborhood. No city rec center will seal the deal for anyone, sad to say.

The preservationists' first priority, he says, is to win broad support for saving the arena. "Getting people to believe that it is worthy of saving," he adds, "is going to save the building."
Rob and Pittsburgh -- you have broad support from me.

I pledge to save the Civic Arena with more spit and vigor than Jim Ferlo's efforts to save Oakland's Siria Mosque.

Rec Center viewed from two different locations: From the water.

From the land.

I'd love to see Mario's new venue built on the Ohio River -- downstream from Downtown. Our best highway that never needs to be re-paved is the river. And, when it is near I79, the Parkway West 376, and the river -- we'll be able to expand and attract young people as residents!

The Rec Center in the photos is much smaller than the new arena. But notice the hight and density of the near-by buildings. It would be silly to circle the new arena with townhouses. Rather, put in high-rise buildings. Make this a real Olympic Village -- our Pennsylvania Penguins Village.


Mark Rauterkus said...

Plan "E" is out:

Anonymous said...

I haven't yet made up my mind on the practicability of tweaking and maintaining the Civic Arena. But I will say that the very day I learned of its impending destruction, the old girl suddenly looked almost unbearably beautiful.

Heather Flanagan said...

Being concerned about environmental issues, I was wondering if you knew about Sound Experience where kids and adults learn about the Puget Sound as well and how our choices impact the environment. I find that hearing about such programs guves me a little shot of hope so I thought I'd give you the link, too. Please take a look. It is a wonderful program!!!