Although challenges remain, Cranberry Manager Jerry Andree said he is confident plans for the Pittsburgh Penguins to partner with UPMC on a proposed cutting-edge performance center and practice rink will move forward.
“They understand our vision,” Andree said of working with the hockey team and UPMC. “They’ve been very professional and upfront people to work with.”
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review recently quoted Penguins CEO Travis Williams as saying the team would keep its eyes open for other locations until it completes a deal for the center. Andree, however, said there have been no threats from the team to abandon plans for the complex in Cranberry.
“That’s not their style,” he said. “They understand we have a plan. They want to be here. They want to be in Cranberry.”
The proposed 150,000-square-foot complex would be located in the Cranberry Woods business park off Route 228 and would offer hockey-related training and injury treatment and prevention. UPMC would own and operate it.
Penguins spokesman Tom McMillan has said the facility would be similar to the UPMC sports performance complex on Pittsburgh's South Side, which is used by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh. That complex includes sports medicine, practice and training facilities
Andree said difficulties have arisen in trying to ensure the proposed complex, including two sheets of ice and an office building, meets the mixed-use zoning already approved for the site. The complex also could take up a large chunk of the 55-acre property, Andree said.
“It’s hard to take that big building and put it right in the middle of that,” Andree said. “We’re working through those issues.”
Owned by developer Don Rodger, of Creative Real Estate Development in Cranberry, the property—dubbed The Village of Cranberry Woods—originally was approved by Cranberry officials to be a combination of retail, office, entertainment and residential development.
Andree said plans for the sports complex deviate significantly from those originally approved for the property.
“It removes from that approved plan significant office, residential, retail and entertainment uses, a requirement of that zoning district,” he said. “The challenge is fitting that proposed facility into that plan, as well as the ice facility building meeting architectural standards, as a steel pre-fabricated building does not meet the zoning requirements.”
Andree said developers could ask for the site to be rezoned, but he added that township supervisors have spent two years working on the Cranberry Plan, a long-term map of the township’s growth that includes zoning requirements.
Andree said that plan aims to continue to attract businesses and residents to Cranberry through 2030. He noted it also helped entice Westinghouse Electric Company to move its headquarters to the Cranberry Woods business park in 2009.
“The board made very clear its long-term vision,” he said. “We know that we need a certain density and a certain mix of uses so we don’t become fiscally distressed.”
The Penguins and UPMC are willing to work within the specifications set for the site, he said.
UPMC currently has a sales agreement in place to buy the property from Rodgers but hasn’t purchased the land yet, Andree said.
The manager said the original plans approved for the property—which include a movie theater, a fitness center, parking garage, retail space and townhomes—highlight the challenges township officials have had in making the sports complex fit the site.
To check out the original master plan for The Summit of Cranberry Woods, click on the PDF at the top of this article.