The home for the proposed UPMC-Pittsburgh Penguins sports medicine facility and ice rink may have moved down the road in Cranberry, but plans for the complex itself remain strikingly the same.
At Tuesday’s planning commission meeting, officials got their first glimpse at plans for the development, which will be located at the intersection of Route 228 and Interstate 79.
Owned by developer Gary Sippel, the land was once slated to be a Simon Mall.
In July, UPMC and the Pens announced plans to build the 190,000 square foot complex on the property. The cost for the project has been estimated at $70 million. However, Roger Altmeyer, director of community project development for UPMC, said costs wouldn’t be finalized until work is bid for the project.
Prior to that, it appeared plans for the facility, which has since been dubbed The UPMC Lemieux Sport Complex, were moving forward at a location in the Village of Cranberry Woods.
Owned by Don Rodgers of FRA Development, the property is located along Route 228 and also is home to the Westinghouse headquarters.
Travis Williams, chief operating officer for the Penguins, said at the time the decision to build on the 90-acre Sippel property instead of Cranberry Woods was based on its visibility and accessibility to I-79 and Route 228. The Pens and UPMC in July signed a letter of intent with Sippel for the site.
“For us, it was visibility and accessibility of the site,” Williams said. “Those were really the two main drivers.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, developers unveiled details for the red brick and glass structure, which bears a resemblance Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
(Click on the photo gallery above to view renderings for the proposed UPMC-Pittsburgh Penguins facility and Cranberry Springs development)
UPMC will build and own the facility, which will be similar in nature to the UPMC sports performance complex on Pittsburgh's South Side that's used by the Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh and also includes sports medicine, practice and training facilities.
The Penguins will lease the ice rink and other facilities from the hospital.
The complex will include two rinks and be the primary training space for the Penguins, replacing the space the team currently leases at the Iceoplex at Southpointe in Washington County.
The team also will use the rink for practice during the regular season when the ice isn’t available at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
One rink will have close 500 seats. The other rink will have seating for about 900. The Penguins are expected to open the rinks for spectators at selected public practices, Altmeyer said.
The only design departure from the original plan for the Cranberry Woods property are about 100 fewer rink seats.
"Otherwise, it's exactly the same," Altmeyer said.
The rinks also will be used for high school hockey tournaments, development camps for Penguins hockey prospects, skating classes, public skating sessions and other programs.
Construction on the building could begin by March 2014, Altmeyer said. The UPMC Lemieux Sport Complex is expected to open in the summer of 2015
Restaurants, Bike Paths and More
The UPMC Lemieux Sport Complex is expected to be built in the first of a five-phase plan.
The other phases of development include plans for five restaurants, a 100-room hotel, a small retail building and 875,000 square feet of office space.
Also shown are pedestrian and biking lanes, sidewalks, a heavily landscaped traffic roundabout and two water features, including a 10-foot waterfall that will cascade from an upper pond into a pond at a lower elevation.
A seating area with benches will be located near the water feature, said Jim Venture, of the PVE Sheffler LLC engineering firm.
“We’re trying to go for more of a rustic, rocky type look with the ponds and the water features, so we intend to construct some seating areas primarily around the water features,” he said.
Traffic would enter the development via Cranberry Springs Drive. The road already serves as the entrance to the Cranberry Crossroads retail complex, home to the Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Venture said developers would add an additional lane and other improvements to Cranberry Springs Drive to accommodate the increase in traffic.
Developers also referenced plans to build an underpass under Route 228 that would connect the development to the Cranberry Woods business park on the other side of the highway.
Jason Kratsas, Cranberry’s director of engineering, said the township is still ironing out funding for the underpass, which has been in planning for the township for close to a decade.
Kratsas said the underpass would allow traffic from I-79 to access the north side of Route 228, where the UPMC-Penguins facility would the located, and the south side of Route 228, which is home to Westinghouse and MSA headquarters, without having to actually travel on the roadway.
“If you’re coming off 79, and you want to go to the north side of Route 228, you can go there after this is done without touching any of the signals or impacting any of the signals on Route 228,” Kratsas said. “Likewise, if you want to go to the MSA side, this will afford you that ability, too.”
Without the underpass, Kratsas said motorists from I-79 would have to get on Route 228, travel to a signal and then make a left turn to get to the UPMC Lemieux Sport Complex and other developments on the north side of the highway.
“For every second that we’re spending making lefts, we’re taking time away from Route 228,” Kratsas said.
He noted the UPMC-Pens facility and the other Cranberry Springs developments could not be fully built without improvements to traffic in the area.
“I won’t say any of this is concrete yet with the traffic,” he said. “We just have to verify the traffic can handle it.”
Planning officials agreed and decided to continue to learn more about plans for the facility at the next planning commission meeting in October.“This whole plan, everything you see here, is a work in progress, and there’s still plenty of work to be done,” added Ron Henshaw, Cranberry’s director of community development