Of three proposals to renovate the vacant Hunt Armory in Shadyside, residents favor the one that would make it an ice rink and community center.
Kratsa Properties would rename the building the Hunt Armory Ice Center. The plans would not alter the facade or roof of the building but would house a single sheet ice skating rink, a pro shop and community rooms. And residents have suggested including a walking track, an idea which is under consideration. Kratsa developed the Bladerunners ice rinks in Harmar and Bethel Park and is working with Perkins Eastman architects on the Hunt Armory design.
Samantha Balbier was among a group of about 100 residents who met Thursday at the Calvary Episcopal Church to voice their support for the ice rink project. “This proposal most aptly represents the community, with the focus on families and children,” Balbier says. “So many other cities that have been on Pittsburgh’s upward trajectory have become inaccessible to families and kids. This is an example of the type of development that puts community, families, and children first.”
Developers of the plan have been responsive to community input, she adds. When you build across from a school, trust is the key and only factor.”
Walnut Capital, which was behind the Bakery Square developments, proposed an apartment complex on the site with more than 100 units, and creation of a landscaped courtyard that could be used by students at Sacred Heart Elementary School. They are working with Strada Architecture and Massaro Corp on that plan.
A team including developers Mosites Co. in partnership with McKnight Realty Partners would put a business incubator with coworking office space in the building. Their plan also includes an indoor climbing wall and it would seek to close Emerson Street to most traffic, making it a pedestrian boulevard similar to Market Square. Architects for the McKnight Mosites plan are Pfaffmann + Associates.
The armory sits in one of the wealthiest ZIP codes in the city, in a densely populated neighborhood. Bordered by Alder, Emerson and Walnut streets, and Carron Way, the Armory’s surrounding area includes two churches, Sacred Heart Elementary School, and a school for the deaf.
Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Gilman, who represents Shadyside, said he has received “a couple hundred emails” about the Hunt Armory proposals.”There has been a very diverse set of opinions shared. Each and every email is being shared with both the review committee and the URA board who will make the final decision.”
The Urban Redevelopment Authority’s next meeting is December 10.