City planning commission OKs tent theater

That old-time rock 'n' roll will be returning to Station Square this summer, with a curfew.

In a unanimous vote, the city planning commission cleared the way yesterday for the reopening of the outdoor amphitheater at Station Square after a three-year hiatus.

But just like the last time oldies acts, rock bands, ethnic festivals and fright shows entertained folks at the South Side complex, all performances must be completed by 11 p.m., in deference to those trying to sleep on Mount Washington.

The planning commission attached the curfew as one of the conditions in approving the amphitheater. As before, acts will perform under a big tent.

Pittsburgh Concert Group, which will operate the amphitheater, hopes to have the venue open by the end of May, attorney Irving Firman said. Shows are expected to run through the end of October, concluding with annual Halloween fright nights.

The amphitheater, to seat 3,500, will be built in the parking lot west of the Sheraton at Station Square, the site occupied by the former Chevrolet Amphitheatre, which closed in 2006.

Forest City Enterprises, the Station Square owner, did not renew the lease because land was needed for its bid for the city's slots casino, which ended up going to the North Shore.

The Station Square amphitheater could be the first of three at the confluence of the three rivers. The Steelers are planning a $12 million year-round indoor-outdoor entertainment complex on riverfront property next to Heinz Field and are seeking $4 million in state aid. The casino, west of Carnegie Science Center, is building a 1,000-seat outdoor riverfront amphitheater.

The commission also OK'd plans for two hotels to be built by Kratsa Properties. A 135-room Fairfield Inn and Suites, costing up to $15 million, will be completed by July 2010 on Federal Street near PNC Park. Kratsa also is developing a $25 million, 155-room Hilton Garden Inn at Ross Street and Fourth Avenue, Downtown.