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CoStar Brewery gaining traction from its tiny space in Highland Park

If someone was to start a brewery in a garage in Highland Park, how long would it take Pittsburgh to notice?

That’s by no means a hypothetical question. In 2010, beer enthusiasts Jeff Hanna and Dom Cincotta started kicking around the idea of starting a nanobrewery. After working their way through all of the legal and construction processes, they incorporated CoStar Brewing in November of 2011, and secured state and federal licensing last February.  

“We’ve really flown under the radar since we’ve been operation,” says Hanna, whose wife and brother are also partners in the project. “We’re all home-brewers and ex-Pittsburgh bartenders. We have a lot of good connections to the Pittsburgh bar community.”

Still, this isn’t a full-time venture for anyone involved. All four CoStar partners have full-time jobs and brew three times, one day a week.

“We brew on a 15-gallon system and have three one-barrel fermenters. We’re taking it just little by little,” Hanna says.

In addition to its flagship American pale ale Hopland Park (reviewed in Eat + Drink two weeks ago), Among its impressive menu, CoStar makes Top Down (a California common or steam beer), Brick Alley Brown Ale and a coffee stout made with beans roasted by Zeke’s Coffee in East Liberty. There’s also a doppelbock and a strawberry wheat beer, and seasonal selections include a pumpkin beer and a Christmas ale.

“We have a Belgian strong ale heading out to bars shortly,” Hanna says. “Our goal is just to make beers that we enjoy.”

CoStar only distributes in sixtels — kegs which hold 1/6th of one barrel. A normal-sized keg holds half a barrel. And since they only brew three barrels a week, supply is always limited.

The brewery has a dedicated tap at Harvard & Highland, and its beers appear regularly at Kelly’s Lounge in East Liberty, Up Modern Kitchen in Shadyside and Gus’s Café in Lawrenceville. A handful of other bars and restaurants carry CoStar Brews periodically. For a full list, check CoStar’s taps page.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jeff Hanna

New storm water garden will help reduce runoff, beautify Larimer

It rids a community of a blighted brownfield. It redistributes rainwater to help prevent flooding. And to boot, it’s a squarely beautiful sight.

Sunday afternoon saw local leaders cut the ribbon on a storm water management garden — a new addition to the Environment and Energy Community Outreach Center, at the corner of East Liberty Boulevard and Larimer Avenue in the Larimer section of Pittsburgh.

“I wanted to have a show-and-tell place — somewhere where people could see these materials,” says state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park. “You’ll see storyboards explaining why the storm water garden is important.”

The Penn State Center’s Lisa Vavro designed the park, and the Pittsburgh department of public works handled the construction. The park’s opening coincided with the second annual Larimer Green Street Fair.

The EECO Center, which opened last June on property which previously held an abandoned gas station, offers the community classes, workshops and services designed to help low-income residents in the East End not only be more energy efficient, but save money in the process.

“One of our goals is to build a greener, smarter and sustainable future, and this is a place that people can come and learn about these issues,” Ferlo says.

Storm water runoff is one of the bigger environmental problems facing Pittsburgh, as evidenced by the tragic flash flooding deaths which occurred on Washington Boulevard last year — flooding to which runoff from Larimer contributed.

“Building one garden is not going to mitigate that issue, but as we keep building with public dollars, we need to build smarter,” Ferlo says. “I want this to be a launching pad.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Sen. Jim Ferlo

Eat + Drink: TAPPED pop up beer garden, pop up dinners and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly look at seasonal deliciousness.

TAPPED pop up beer gardens return for second year
TAPPED, the pop up beer garden project from Epic Development that launched last summer, will return this year with three installments. "Each one is going to take on its own kind of persona," Epic Development's Michael McAllister says.

The first TAPPED event will take place in East Liberty on June 22, and is designed to be a celebration of that neighborhood's revitalization."All of us are passionate about the area and excited about the trajectory of East Liberty," McAllister says.

Joining last year's participants Full Pint Brewing and Bar Marco will be Table Magazine and Braddock's The Brew Gentlemen. A host of food trucks will also be on hand, including FranktuaryBRGR, the PGH Taco TruckThe Pierogi Truck and Lomito, a new venture from the owners of Fukuda.

July's TAPPED event will take place Downtown and highlight the area's arts and culture scene."We will have some fun little twists we're going to keep under wraps until a couple weeks before," McAllister says.

The August event will occur in Upper Lawrenceville and feature local bands and DJs. "It'll be a really fun cap to the summer season," McAllister says.

Pittsburgh Public Market to host monthly Around the World pop up dinners
Chef Mya Zeronis
 will prepare and host the first in a series of Around the World Pop Up Dinners on Friday, August 9 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Public Market. The evening, which will open with Zeronis teaching guests quick lessons on how to make fresh juices, vegetable summer rolls and homemade pickles, will conclude with a vegan-friendly five-course meal.

Zeronis, who sells some of her prepared foods at Lean Chef En Route in the public market, says that she’s always enjoyed pop up dinners. “Even if I were to own a restaurant, I’d want to do this monthly,” she says.

Tickets for the dinner are $35 and available through the Pittsburgh Public Market.

Former Eleven pastry chef starts anew as a chocolatier
Pastry chef Shelby Ortz, who previously spent six years in kitchens at Big Burrito establishments Soba and Eleven, has struck out on her own and started Lux Artisan Chocolates.

Her confections consist of four different bars, including a black fig and pistachio bar, and 12 kinds of bon bons, all with fillings made from scratch — her favorite contains almond, cherry, coconut and caramel.

For Ortz, it’s a career change that arose out of necessity. After she and her husband, also a chef, had a baby last year, Ortz needed to cut her schedule down from the 50-plus hours a week she’d been working.

Lux Artisan Chocolates are available at Mon Amiee Chocolat in the Strip District, Bryant Street Market in Highland Park and Feast on Brilliant in Aspinwall.

Marty's Market expands hours
Marty’s Market in the Strip District has expanded its hours and introduced breakfast service. On weekdays from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., the market’s cafe will offer breakfast sandwiches, brioche French toast and gluten-free sweet polenta among other offerings. The market itself is has extended its weekday service by two hours and will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m..

Burger 21 coming to Pittsburgh in 2014
Burger 21, a gourmet burger franchise from the owners of The Melting Pot, will expand into Pennsylvania next year with a restaurant in Cranberry. Chad Brooks, owner of eight Qdoba restaurants in the Pittsburgh area, will operate the franchise.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Michael McAllister, Mya Zeronis, Shelby Ortz

YPA to celebrate 10th anniversary at Union Project, Top Ten preservation opportunities list

The Young Preservationists Association (YPA) of Pittsburgh is celebrating its tenth anniversary on June 2nd at an event titled, "Ignite the Next Generation of Preservations Leaders," where it will release its annual report on the top ten preservation opportunities in the Pittsburgh area.

The event will be held at the Union Project in Highland Park, a building and institution that the YPA believes demonstrates one of the most successful adaptive reuses in Pittsburgh.

“It is a perfect example of preservation," says Dan Holland, YPA executive director.  "An old church has been restored, it's reused, it's constantly busy for events and activities.  It's really an ideal example of the kind of work we try to highlight with our organization.”

The former Union Baptist Church, built in 1903, was included in the YPA's Top Ten list in 2004.  The following year, it was awarded the YPA's Promise Award, which highlights persons or organizations showing potential in the field of preservation.

The recipient of this year’s Michael Eversmeyer Promise Award is Michael Stanton, director of East End-based Open Hand Ministries.

Holland says that this event, like all YPA programs, is intended to light a spark among young people for historic preservation.

"We feel that there's a lot of history to preserve," he says.  "At the same time, there’s a lot of history that's at risk.  And the next generation, it's placed at their feet."

The event's co-chairs are State Senator Jim Ferlo, and Cathy Niederberger, Senior Vice President of PNC Bank Community Development.  Special guest include WQED's Rick Sebak, and Tim Baker, President of Baker Leadership, who will be the event’s MC’s.  To register for the event by May 30th, visit the YPA’s site here.

Holland says he is proud that his organization has been at work for a decade, and points to a number of specific accomplishments in those years, where YPA’s advocacy has led to the restoration of numerous buildings and districts.  But most importantly, he says, is that his organization has successfully engaged young people in historic preservation.

"For the first time we have young people front and center in the preservation movement taking credit for and being part of the preservation of historic sites," Holland says. "I feel like we have accomplished our mission in that respect."

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Dan Holland

Pedal Pittsburgh showcases design and architecture with one-of-a-kind city bike ride

What better way to enjoy Pittsburgh's great neighborhoods and architecture than on a bike? That's the goal of Pedal Pittsburgh's 18th annual ride scheduled for Sunday, May 22.

A fundraiser for the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh (CDCP), the various bike rides will all begin and end at SouthSide Works. Attracting more than 2,000 riders each year, it's the only ride of its size within the city limits says Jennifer Fox, director of administration at CDCP.

"It's not about the first one to the finish line," she explains. "It's really about a leisurely ride that's going to take you past some fantastic views and places." With routes ranging from six to 60 miles, and many refreshment stops along the way, riders and families of all skill levels can take part.

The six routes travel through the South Side, Northside, Lawrenceville, Squirrel Hill and Mount Washington, giving cyclists--especially those who travel the entire 60 miles--a great way to experience the city and its neighborhoods, says Fox.

One group joining the ride is Team East End Brewing Company and OTB Bicycle Café (EEB/OTB). The first 50 riders to RSVP for their team will get half of their registration covered for the event and a Team EEB/OTB t-shirt.

This year, Fox explains, CDCP will have activities for riders at its rest stops to showcase what good planning and design brings to communities.

Over the past 10 years Fox has coordinated Pedal Pittsburgh, she says they have consistently seen more people get involved. "It's amazing to see that many people on bikes," she adds.

Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. at SouthSide Works, with the first group of riders taking off at 7 a.m.

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Writer: Alex Audia
Source: Jennifer Fox, CDCP

City introduces 20 year Allegheny Riverfront Vision Plan

While the neighborhoods adjacent to the Allegheny River have undergone a heavy transition from industrial zones to thriving commercial districts in the last two decades, their connection to the river itself was lost long ago following the advent of industrialism, leaving a large swath of land underutilized and ecologically impaired. On Monday, the City released its sweeping 77-page, 20-year Allegheny Riverfront Vision Plan, designed to reorient the city toward the riverfront and generate new transit systems, housing, and businesses.

Since 2009, Mayor Ravenstahl and the City of Pittsburgh, Riverlife, and the URA have been working with consultants Perkins Eastman Architects to develop the multi-phase plan that covers 6.5 miles of sustainable development along the Allegheny riverfront from Downtown through Highland Park. The plan incorporates several major redevelopment projects already on the table, such as the proposed Green River Boulevard project, which entails a new commuter rail line, riverfront commercial and residential development, and environmentally-minded landscaping. Another component includes Buncher Co.'s redevelopment of the Terminal Produce Building on Smallman Street, as well as the construction of new residential buildings. A proposed trolley and new bike lines would better connect the Strip to Lawrenceville and take the traffic burden off of Butler Street, Smallman Street, and Penn Avenue.

The plan includes a lengthy list of initiatives to be implemented in different phases, such as the creation of new tax credits to aid potential developers, improvement of the sewage overflow system to clean up the river, the reintroduction of native plant and animal species, a focus on developmental "hot spots" like Lawrenceville's Heppenstall Plant, the repurposing and maintenance of several historic structures, and the movement of Strip District and Lawrenceville industry to a new site near the 62nd Street Bridge.

The initial phases laid out in the Allegheny Riverfront Vision are predominantly public projects to be initiated by the URA and the City of Pittsburgh in collaboration with a 16-member steering committee, with the assumption that these projects will quickly draw in private investment for the later and less concrete parts of the plan.

An event is being held to celebrate the plan on March 14 at 6:30 p.m. in The Roberto Clemente Museum at 3339 Penn Avenue.

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Writer: John Farley
Sources:  Joanna Doven, press secretary for the Mayor's Office

From industry to community: Rethinking the Allegheny riverfront

The Allegheny Riverfront Vision plan hosted its final community meeting last week to address development of the 6.5-mile stretch between the Strip District and Highland Park.

Perkins Eastman has been working for more than a year on the still in-progress masterplan, under a $350,000 contract from the URA.

The plan makes suggestions for the City of Pittsburgh and Buncher Co.'s joint strategy to redevelop some 80 acres of riverfront land. The City could combine parcels of its own -- including with Produce Terminal in the Strip -- with industrial properties Buncher owns. Construction could start in the Strip in 2013, with the 40 undeveloped acres behind the Produce Terminal. The City and URA will spend some $20 million in capital funds to remediate the site and prepare it for redevelopment. A 1,000-unit development -- five buildings of 200 units each -- has been proposed.

Perkins Eastman envisions a new way of looking at riverfront parcels, says principal Steve Quick.

"In the past, the riverfront has been seen as a place for industry. We're looking at it now as a community-oriented place with a mixture of uses, including residential and business and low-impact industry, like the robotics and software coming out of the universities," says Quick.

The Perkins Eastman plan aims to maintain the character of the "neighborhoods on the rebound," as URA executive director Rob Stephany described the Strip, Lawrenceville and Morningside at Thursday's meeting.

Quick, with Senator Jim Ferlo, assuaged fears that this redevelopment project is anything like Soffer's SouthSide Works, which Quick calls a "standalone type of development." "We are looking for something that will spur development, something more inborn in the communities," Quick says.

Perkins Eastman suggests to:

- Add parking facilities.
- Restore the natural slope down to the river to get people closer to the water.
- Transform the Allegheny Valley Railroad into a pedestrian-friendly green path.
- Anchor the Produce Terminal with the in-development public market on one end and the Society for Contemporary Craft on the other, with restaurants and professional spaces in between.
- Capture all stormwater for storms of one inch or less (more than half the storms in Pittsburgh) through green roofs, pervious ground surfaces and trees.
- Increase the tree canopy coverage in the Strip District and Lawrenceville to about 40 percent. There are currently only about 200 trees total in the study area.
- Create bike/ped connections.
- Take into account the Allegheny Valley Railroad's planned commuter line between New Kensington and Arnold through Oakmont into Downtown.
- Create a new "Golden Triangle" by connecting Downtown and Lawrenceville, and eventually Oakland, via a trolley system that stretches, initially, between the Convention Center to 40th and Butler Streets, which Quick says needs to be more of a "civic center" than an "auto-oriented corner."

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Writer: Caralyn Green
Source: Steve Quick, principal, Perkins Eastman

Image courtesy Allegheny Riverfront Vision plan


Local grub and a Fresh documentary: Enrico Biscotti's E2 does more than brunch

Enrico Biscotti's Highland Park location opened just over a month ago, and has quickly become a brunch staple, serving up sugar-dusted beignets, perfectly poached eggs and delicate frisee salads to caffeine-craving weekend crowds. Table waits tend to range from 15 to 30 minutes, but no one seems to mind killing time chatting with neighbors. The cafe at 5905 Bryant Street, called E2 (and pronounced E-Squared), has given Highland Park the kind of early-day dining kick its business corridor needs -- a perfect complement to Tazza d'Oro's coffee, baked goods and veggie-friendly sandwiches.

E2 serves only weekend brunch, but is more than just a brunch place, says Jordan Kay with Enrico Biscotti. There's also a basement-level event hall with a speakeasy feel that can fit about 100 people. E2 is also in talks of launching some "guerilla-style dining" events, says Kay. Translation? A day or two before a themed dinner (e.g. Blues, Burgers and Beers), Enrico will blast details to its social media followers. First come, first served. This worked, after all, during the blizzard -- E2 opened early to neighborhood residents as a sort of soup kitchen through social media and word-of-mouth only.

E2 is also embracing local foods, as is the entire Enrico Biscotti/Flying Biscotti Catering family. About two years ago, the company developed a relationship with PASA, and since then, it's not only sourced locally, but also been a leader in local food education. Last month, Enrico Biscotti did a fundraiser with Just Harvest to donate CSA shares to two low-income families. And on Tues., April 27 at 6:30 p.m., E2 will host a benefit for Grow Pittsburgh, of which Kay serves on the board.

The event is a screening of the documentary Fresh, a Food, Inc.-type film that celebrates people across America who are re-inventing our food system. The screening will also feature local foods prepared by chef Kate Romane, sourced from Meadow Rock Farm & Gardens in Butler, Pa. and Penn's Corner Farm Alliance.

"Fresh promotes more responsible ways or purchasing and consuming food, and talks a lot about the different efforts around the country to educate people about where their food comes from, and about different sustainable ways they can consume it," says Julie Pezzino with Grow Pittsburgh.

The event is $25 per person and BYOB. Reservations can be made at www.enricobiscotti.com or 412-281-2602.

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Writer: Caralyn Green
Sources: Jordan Kay, Enrico Biscotti; Julie Pezzino, executive director, Grow Pittsburgh.

Photograph courtesy of Enrico Biscotti

Convenience to organics: New owner brings fresh vision to Highland Park market

Walnut Market, which has been at 5901 Bryant St. for about 15 years, is now under new ownership.

Robert Collins plans to convert the 2,500-square-foot Highland Park convenience store into a full neighborhood market with organic and local produce, and all-natural and organic groceries and provisions, including coffee from La Prima, and treats from Pittsburgh Snax & Nut Company.

Collins, who has been in the grocery business for almost two decades, was the produce manager at Right by Nature in the Strip District when it first opened, and more recently transformed the produce department at John McGinnis & Co. in the South Hills into a mostly organic and local destination.

Within the first few months of new ownership, Walnut Market will be renamed the Bryant Street Market, and will undergo extensive interior and exterior renovations. It will open in early April and will remain open throughout the renovation process. The shop will also transition to using biodegradable bags, and there will be a 25 cent discount if customers bring their own bags.

Collins, who lives in the North Hills, says Highland Park is the perfect neighborhood for such a shop, as it is "diverse and full of young families," and the location of so much development attention, including a commercial and housing construction and renovation project on Bryant Street that recently received funding from the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County.

The market is in the same building as the Smiling Banana Leaf, is across the street from E2 (the new Enrico Biscotti brunch spot), and is down the block from the site of Park Bruges, which is anticipated to open by late summer.

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Writer: Caralyn Green
Source: Robert Collins, Bryant Street Market

Photograph copyright Caralyn Green

Tazza D'Oro and 21st St. Coffee expand to Carnegie Mellon and 3 PNC

Both Tazza D'Oro and 21st Street Coffee and Tea are expanding by collaborating with high-profile Pittsburgh institutions.

Tazza D'Oro, which has established a deep-rooted coffee culture in Highland Park, is opening its second location at Carnegie Mellon University's new Gates/Hillman Center. The cafe is celebrated for its locally sourced and vegetarian food, and single-origin coffees prepared by highly trained baristas. The spot in CMU's $98.6 million computer science center, which was dedicated in September, will employ 10 new baristas (who were hired and trained over the summer) and seat about 80 people. It is expected to open the middle of next week.

21st Street will open its third location on the ground floor of Three PNC Plaza, Pittsburgh latest high-rise, which will house PNC and Reed Smith law offices, as well as luxury condos and the four-star Fairmont Hotel. The independent coffeehouse, which focuses on no-nonsense, high-quality beverages (direct-trade coffees, organic teas, local milk and more), maintains its flagship location at 21st and Smallman Streets in the Strip District, as well as a coffeebar in the Frick Building, Downtown. Owner Luke Shaffer says he and his wife Alexis submitted a proposal to PNC back in March 2008, and found out in May 2009 their proposal had been accepted over at least a dozen other interested parties, including national names.

The 600-square-foot PNC location will have seating for about a dozen customers. It is still under construction, and Shaffer anticipates opening in December.

Three PNC is such an ideal location for 21st Street, says Shaffer, because it is so accessible to all those who work, live and play Downtown.

"The area is really shaping up," says Shaffer. "The Fairmont Hotel is going to be the nicest hotel in the city, there are so many condos around and high-end retailers like Larrimor's are going in, too. There is a lot of competition in that area in terms of places you can go to purchase something called 'coffee,' but as we've learned in the Strip, each is unique, with its own followers and own niche."

Writer: Caralyn Green
Source: Luke Shaffer, 21st Street Coffee and Tea

Photograph of Tazza D'Oro shaping up on CMU's campus courtesy of Tazza D'Oro

Parks Conservancy breaks ground on system-wide trail and signage improvement

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy broke ground Monday on a multi-million dollar comprehensive trail and sign improvement project.

Construction will begin on trails in lower Frick Park, and other projects will begin along Butler Street on the north side of Highland Park, on the Bob Harvey and Mairdale Trails in Riverview Park, and on the Works Progress Administration-era bridges in Schenley Park. Additionally, wayfinding and educational signs will be installed throughout the four regional parks. The signs, designed by Kolano Design, will provide directions for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as information about park history, and plant and animal life.

"The trails were constructed about 100 years ago, and the nature of the urban setting is significantly different today than it was then," says Phil Gruszka, director of park management and maintenance. "As we build up communities adjacent to the parks, we have more stormwater entering the park system, so we have more soil erosion."

After the trails are reengineered, they will be able to better sustain storm events without loss of trail surface, says Gruszka. This will make the trails more usable year-round with fewer safety concerns, and lower maintenance costs for the city, which will spend less money replacing gravel that is washed away with rain.

The trail and signage project should take about 10 months to complete, Gruszka says.

Representative Mike Doyle and Senator Arlen Specter were instrumental in securing the $3.1 million federal grant that has made the project possible. Other funding came from Eden Hall Foundation, Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation, PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Ryan Memorial Foundation and UPMC. Foundations, individuals and the corporate community helped to raise more than $498,000, releasing nearly $2 million in federal funds.

Writer: Caralyn Green
Sources: Phil Gruszka, director of parks management and maintenance, and Laura Cook, marketing communications coordinator, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Photograph courtesy of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Highland Park home renovations embody green living at its most luxurious

Homeowners Nathaniel Glosser and Lissa Rosenthal want to show Pittsburgh that green living doesn't just feel good; it can also look great.

When the then-couple decided to renovate their Highland Park home--which has been in Glosser's family since 1942--they knew they wanted the renovations to be as eco-conscious as possible to reflect their personal and professional passions. Rosenthal's a PR specialist who worked as the first development director of the Pittsburgh Glass Center, and Glosser is a community activist most recently involved in the Three Rivers Climate Convergence around the G-20 summit.

"We were looking to make a healthy house for individuals living there and for the planet," says Glosser. "Homes are routinely built with materials that use toxins, which contribute to a variety of illnesses. So that's one part of it. It's also that we have one planet and we're using it up, and if we don't make some changes we're going doing to see terrible climate change and deforestation."

The renovations, designed by architect Stuart Horne of Seigle, Solow & Horne, were completed between 2006 and 2007 with the help of Lawrenceville-based Artemis Environmental Building Products.

The five-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home balances the best in green living technology with the most up-to-date in opulence. Luxury touches include a first-floor open plan; a gourmet kitchen with a 14-foot island and Italian glass tile wall treatments; a three-story glass sculpture by Pennsylvania artist Ben Cunningham; and an extra deep air-jet bathtub.

In terms of green elements, there are far too many to name, but some standouts include the use of sustainable and eco-friendly materials such as formaldehyde-free bamboo, Paperstone (a soap-stone-like material made of recycled paper and organic resins) and Isynene (an environmentally friendly closed-cell co-polymer foam used to insulate the exterior and interior walls and ceilings). All the heating and cooling is energy-efficient, of course, and all products used are formaldehyde-free with zero to low-levels of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. And the main roof is made of eco-friendly synthetic tiles from DaVinci Roofscapes, with a 50-year warranty.

The home is located at 1422 Greystone Dr., on a quiet cul-de-sac near Highland Park's Bryant Street commercial district, and is listed at $589,000 through Coldwell Banker.

Writer: Caralyn Green
Sources: Nathaniel Glosser, Lissa Rosenthal

Photograph courtesy Nathaniel Glosser and Lissa Rosenthal

Philadelphia Brewing Co. joins Pittsburgh craft beer scene

One of Philadelphia's most prized craft breweries is setting up shop in Pittsburgh.

The Philadelphia Brewing Co. established its one-man operation on this side of the state in September, in a 500-square-foot warehouse space at 2120 Jane St., in the former home of Duquesne Brewing Co. on the South Side.

The brewery launched in 2007 in the wake of a split with the Yards Brewing partners. In this short time, P.B.C.'s flagship Kenzinger ale, named after Philly's Kensington neighborhood where it's brewed, has become one of the most popular craft beers in Philadelphia, and P.B.C. can be found in at least 100 bars around the city.

Does this mean P.B.C. will be challenging East End Brewing Company and the Church Brew Works for the title of Pittsburgh's favorite local microbrew?

Not quite.

There won't be brewing happening (yet... perhaps) on this side of the state, says Matt Nienhuis, who's behind P.B.C.'s Pittsburgh division. That's still exclusive to P.B.C.'s North Philly brewery. But this expansion does mean Pittsburgh's got another option for craft beer. P.B.C. is the only brewery in Pennsylvania to self-distribute its product to retail beer distributors, restaurants, bars and delis, so before P.B.C. had a man stationed locally, the closest P.B.C. option was a one-off in Chambersburg, with almost all of the distribution limited to Philadelphia and its outliers, as well as a few spots in Jersey.

"It's pretty unorthodox for a brewery of our size, or any brewery, to self-distribute, but a good way to get to know our customers and keep our prices low," says Nienhuis, who who's single-handedly responsible for P.B.C. sales, promotion and delivery in Pittsburgh.

So what inspired P.B.C.'s growth to the Pittsburgh market? Nienhuis, a longtime employee at P.B.C. and Yards before it, moved to Pittsburgh (Highland Park, in particular) in August with his wife, who started a job teaching at the new Pittsburgh Science & Technology Academy in Oakland. Nienhuis, who grew up in Chicago, finds Pittsburgh "nice," and without the "East Coast roughness" he experienced in Philadelphia.

P.B.C. is now available on draft at Peter's Pub in Oakland and Kelly's Bar & Lounge in East Liberty, as well as about a dozen beer distributors throughout the city and suburbs.

Writer: Caralyn Green
Source: Matt Nienhuis, Philadelphia Brewing Co.

Photograph courtesy of Philadelphia Brewing Co.

Union Project moves into second phase of renovations

The Union Project--a catalyst of change in East Liberty since 2001--is moving into the second phase of its ongoing renovations with the Side Yard Improvement Project.

The project aims to transform the community center's adjoining outdoor space, which is now "basically a vacant lot," into a "unique green space" for neighbors, with seating and a performance area for the organization's tenants and programs, including wedding reception rentals, says executive director Jeffrey Dorsey.

The initiave is still in the early stages. This summer, the Union Project received an $8,000 Community Design Center of Pittsburgh grant, and hired Klavon Design Associates to come up with some ideas. The Union Project has also brought together a committee to help shape the design's direction. The committee includes the owner of the drugstore across the street, the executive director of Sojourner House (which recently carried out its on side yard renovation project) and representatives from the East Liberty Development, Inc. and Senator Jim Ferlo's office.

Additionally, the Union Project is seeking community input. The first community meeting will be held tonight, Wed., Oct. 14 from 7 to 9 p.m., and the second will be Nov. 17. Both meetings will be at the Union Project, 801 N. Negley Ave.

The Union Project hopes to unveil final design plans at its annual fundraising event, UnWrapped, in December, and to start implementing the project by the spring and complete it by summer 2010.

Dorsey emphasizes that renovation is at the heart of the Union Project's mission--to build a better, stronger community by redeveloping the deteriorated historic church into a hub for culinary and craft programming. The first phase of renovations has stretched since the Union Project' inception about nine years ago. The heating, plumbing and office projects of this phase are all complete; work on the great hall's ceiling and on the stained glass windows is all that's left. In addition to the side yard project, phase two of renovations includes improving great hall acoustics, creating a green room and possibly flattening the great hall's floor, which now slants down toward the stage.

Writer: Caralyn Green
Source: Jeffrey Dorsey, executive director, the Union Project

Image courtesy of Klavon Design

Carnegie Mellon dedicates $98.6M computer science center

Carnegie Mellon University's computer science school has a new home in the Gates Center for Computer Science and the Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies.

The $98.6 million project was dedicated Tues., Sept. 22 with a keynote address by Microsoft chairman and building namesake Bill Gates. The construction was made possible through a $20 million gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a $10 million gift from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.

The complex, which occupies 5.6 acres on the west portion of CMU's 140-acre campus, was designed by Atlanta, Ga.-based Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, and landscaped by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Cambridge, Mass. P.J. Dick, Inc. served as the construction management firm.

"This is one of the most prestigious schools of computer science in the world, filled with the most creative people," says architect Mack Scogin. "The purpose of this building is to encourage and support their activities. It's as simple and as complicated as that."

The modern glass-and-zinc complex, which is in sharp contrast to the campus' traditional yellow-brick look, comprises 217,000 square-feet of interior space, including 10 classrooms, 310 offices (all with windows), 29 project rooms/labs, 8,000 square-feet of open project space and nearly 20,000 square-feet of white board work space. It also features a state-of-the-art, open source computer lab made possible through a grant from Red Hat, Inc.; a café to be operated by Highland Park coffee shop Tazza D'Oro; and the 246-seat Rashid Auditorium, named for former CMU faculty member Rick Rashid who is now senior vice president for research at Microsoft.

The interconnected buildings, which are designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, feature five green roofs, and--when the landscaping is complete--will more than double the amount of green space that previously existed on the site.

The centers are connected to each other and the rest of campus with enclosed and outdoor walkways, including the Randy Pausch Memorial Bridge, which links the Gates Center to the Purnell Center for the Arts.

Writer: Caralyn Green
Sources: Byron Spice, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University; Mack Scogin, architect

Photograph courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University

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