Positive Steps: The Lower Hill Plan / by EpicDevelopments

The problem with master/community plans is that they excited me...alot.  I get my heart set on a series of potentially amazing changes to a community or a neighborhood and then get let down when the plan fizzles.  When the construction for the North Shore began, it seemed like we were going to have a vibrant and exciting district for people to live, work, and play in the shadows of our newly minted stadiums.  Tens years later we have no residential (even though its one of the hottest markets), a commercial building poised for construction more fit for Robinson in its design/density and tenant mix than a bridge away from Downtown, and a couple hotels and office buildings.  Suffice to say, its not the stuff dreams are made of.

But there is hope yet for development around our sporting venues.  Enter the Lower Hill Preliminary Land Development Plan.  Released in May 2013, the preliminary plan details basic size/scope of parcels and planned uses.  And its good.  The project not only returns street grids to the Hill District, righting a wrong of 1960's urban design, but lays out of a course of development that is poised to bring life to the gloomy parking lots.

In total, the plan calls for 1,192 residential units, 200,101 square feet of retail space, 691,962 square feet of office space, a 150-room hotel, and 2,957 off-street and 330 on-street parking spaces throughout the project.  Ambitious, yes.  But can it happen?  Yes.  What makes this project different from a place like the North Shore is a diversified development team to spread investment and encourage building (especially building pace!).

Unlike the North Shore which relies on one developer (Continental Real Estate), the Penguins/URA are pursuing a diverse development approach bringing on residential developers for the residential components and commercial developers for the commercial developments.  Rocket science? No. More time/cost effective to get the project done and become a catalyst for future development? Yes.  

So here's for hoping.  The Penguins are poised to pick a residential developer soon so fingers crossed that we will see some action (potentially big/dense/awesome) sprouting up soon in the Lower Hill.