Bethel AME Church receives land back from Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins made good on a very important promise to right a historic wrong.

“Larger than a football field sits right behind you,” said Dr. Dale Snyder, the pastor of Bethel AME Church.

Months ago, we told you when pastor Dale Snyder asked for his church’s land back, a 13,000 square feet lot located across from PPG Paints Arena on Wylie Avenue and Elm Street.

Last fall, Snyder told us it was taken in the 1950s through a process known as eminent domain to make way for the Civic Arena.

“The congregation moved to a facility that only held 900 [members], we had 3,000 members that couldn’t fit into the sanctuary,” Snyder said.

Not only was the congregation forced out and moved to Webster Avenue in the Upper Hill District, but the church was also given pennies on the dollar. Their lot was worth more than $700,000, and Bethel was given roughly $200,000.

On Friday, Bethel AME Church got a piece of land four times the size of their initial lot; instead of 13,000 square feet, the Pittsburgh Penguins provided 60,000 square feet.

“Pure restoration wasn’t going to create the opportunity that the Pastor was articulating,” said the Senior Vice President of Development, Craig Dunham.

Pastor Snyder said the land will be used for mixed-income housing and a childcare center.

“We want to meet the needs of the people in the community,” Snyder said.

The development is still in its beginning phases, but Pastor Snyder hopes to begin the project within the next 18 months.

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