Status of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Urban Development Action Grant for the Parkway Center Shopping Mall in Pittsburgh, PA

CED-80-110: Published: Jun 26, 1980. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1980.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, a review was made of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) preliminary approval of an urban development action grant (UDAG) supporting the proposed Parkway Center Shopping Mall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. UDAG's are made to support commercial, industrial, and neighborhood projects. The Parkway Center Shopping Mall is classified as a commercial project. Of the 17 projects identified during the funding cycle in which this grant received preliminary approval, three involved new retail shopping centers. Thus, this project is similar to several other UDAG's in other locations of the country.

GAO found that, although the HUD Pittsburgh area office recommended against approval, the HUD central office gave its preliminary approval of the grant. The reversal was not improper, because additional information and assurances on the application were received between the time of the area office's review and preliminary grant approval, and the HUD UDAG central office staff is responsible for making funding recommendations to the HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development. The formal grant agreement between HUD and the city, not yet executed, will be sent to the city for signatures in June 1980. Funds will not be released for the project until the agreement is executed and the following studies are completed: the environmental assessment, including an analysis of traffic mitigation measures; and an economic study of the project's effect on area businesses. The HUD environmental review regulations provide that pending completion of the appropriate environmental clearances, grant funds cannot be used. The regulations also provide for a 15-day period for public comments after the environmental assessment is published but before funds can be released. A Pittsburgh firm is currently studying the economic impact of the proposed mall on other area businesses. HUD does not plan to release funds for the project until this study is completed.

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