The Hill District should "be prepared to draw the line" against neighborhood development that doesn't help the neighborhood, said Hill District Consensus Group head Carl Redwood on Dec. 8.
The group was discussing how the Hill might benefit from a slots parlor that may come to Uptown next door. But since there's only one week until state gaming officials choose to place Pittsburgh's sole casino there or in the North Side or South Side, Redwood suggested that the group change its approach a bit to focus on the advent of a new hockey facility to replace Mellon Arena.
Isle of Capri, the casino developer proposing the Hill-side casino, has pledged to pay $290 million for an arena; the other two slots hopefuls have said they would work with the state on a deal to which they would contribute.
Previously, the Consensus Group has requested that the chosen casino developer contribute 10 percent of the arena's cost to a Hill development fund to be created later. But so far, no casino company has signed on to this proposal, and Redwood is suggesting a new focus: Instead of attaching the demand to the slots license, he says, the community should make it a condition of building the arena ... no matter who builds it or how the project is financed.
"We've got to stop them ... and say you're disrespecting this community," Redwood concluded. Other group members emphasized that the proposed contribution was an investment, not a handout, and suggested creating a list of specific community improvements the group desires.
As Rev. Calvin Cash, pastor of the Hill's Wesley AME Zion Church, concluded: "Those of us who are old enough to remember Davey Lawrence standing there and saying the Civic Arena will be built to benefit the Hill District -- you know how they say 'Remember the Alamo'?" We've got to remember that."