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Highmark introduces first-of-its-kind sleep store in Homestead

It's something everyone needs, but far too few get enough of. And the inability to get it is, quite literally, keeping people up at night. That's why Highmark Inc. is opening a first-of-its-kind store that could help people finally find what may be eluding them: a good night's sleep.  
 
Construction is underway on REMWorks Sleep Store, a new retail location at The Waterfront in Homestead. With a planned December opening, the shop will feature a wide range of solutions and products for people dealing with sleeplessness, sleep apnea, snoring and insomnia.
 
"Having trouble sleeping is something that, unfortunately, most people will face at some point in their lives," said Amy Phillips, director of REMWorks. "But, fortunately, with this new store, we have the opportunity to provide guidance to assist people in getting a good night's sleep. Our highly trained licensed sleep coaches will work with people to understand why they're having trouble sleeping and develop a plan so they can get better sleep.”
 
REMWorks is named for the restorative REM -- or rapid eye movement -- cycle of sleep. A certified Durable Medical Equipment Center, the REMWorks retail store will carry about 75 percent retail products and 25 percent prescription items, said Phillips. Not only is REMWorks the first retail and prescription sleep emporium in the region, Phillips said, but possibly the country.
 
"REMWorks Sleep Store is not a mattress store and it is not a sleep lab," Phillips said. "Rather, it is a sleep store unlike anything that's currently in the market. In a relaxing, comfortable retail environment, REMWorks will offer products to address various sleep problems and provide education about treatment options to help people get the sleep they need."
 
For those who've been tested and determined by their doctor to be suffering from sleep apnea, the sleep coaches at REMWorks will be able to provide CPAP machines as well as fit them for accessories used to treat sleep apnea, including CPAP masks from many different manufacturers.
 
Phillips said the store will feature 40 to 50 different masks, so customers can get the best fit and best comfort to suit their needs. One CPAP is so small, Phillips said, that it can fit in the palm of your hand and can recharge with a car charger – the perfect device for someone traveling or even camping. Phillips also discussed a new CPAP alternative the shop will carry, the Apniciure; which is not a mask, but suctions to the tongue.
 
Phillips said REMWorks will offer such a wide array of masks and CPAP devices because, from a storage perspective, this DME focuses solely on sleep.
 
And, by focusing on sleep, she said she hopes to facilitate care for those who need prescription sleep products. She said many people who suffer from sleep apnea or other sleep issues don’t see themselves as sick, so they don’t care to shop at DME centers that offer walkers or other medical items. REMWorks is the first DME of its kind to only offer prescription sleep products with relaxing retail merchandise.
 
People who already have equipment will be able to visit the store to ensure it is properly fitted for maximum effectiveness. REMWorks will accept most health insurance, including regional and national insurance carriers.
 
In addition to leading brand-name CPAP devices, the store will also carry an assortment of treatment options ranging from sleep masks to music and lighting solutions, soothing bedding and pillows, teas and aromatherapy sleep aids as well as white noise machines and even sleep solutions for children.
 
Sleep coaches will also offer education, individualized sleep plans and over-the-counter treatments for the non-medical causes for a variety of sleep issues like insomnia, restless leg syndrome, teeth grinding, sleep terrors, sleep walking and circadian rhythm problems.
 
REMWorks is the first brick-and-mortar retail location conceived out of Highmark's Business Innovation and Development department, and is a for-profit subsidiary of Highmark. The Business Innovation and Development group focuses on creating growth opportunities for Highmark by developing new and innovative products, services and business models.
 
"We saw a market demand that was not being met, and that's what led to the development of the sleep store concept," said Paul Puopolo, Highmark vice president of Business Innovation and Development. "Through collaboration and relationship-building, we are able to develop unique concepts that bring value to Highmark and, most importantly, our customers. The lack of a good night's sleep does not just affect your mood and productivity. It also can contribute to serious health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and depression. That's why having a store like this is so important – and why the opening of REMWorks Sleep Store is a proud milestone for our department and the entire company." 
 
 
Source: Doug Braunsdorf, Senior Public Relations Analyst Highmark Inc., Amy Phillips, Highmark Inc.
 
 

Local chocolatier plans $2.5 million expansion in Lawrenceville, creating 51 jobs

Continuing to advance his JOBS1st PA initiative, Gov. Tom Corbett announced last week that Edward Marc Brands, Inc., a manufacturer of gourmet chocolates, will expand operations in Allegheny County and create 51 jobs in the City of Pittsburgh.
 
Edward Marc Brands, operator of The Milk Shake Factory in South Side, has entered into a lease of a 50,000-square-foot space in Lawrenceville on 38th Street at the former Geyer printing site near the Allegheny River and 40th Street Bridge. The company plans to invest more than $2.5 million at the new facility, and has also committed to creating at least 51 new jobs and retaining 36 positions during the next three years.
 
“Pennsylvania is the keystone of American manufacturing, and by partnering with companies like Edward Marc Brands, we are promoting the growth of this job-sustaining industry,” Gov. Corbett said. “I am pleased that we are helping fourth-generation chocolate manufacturers grow where the family tradition started: right here in Pennsylvania.”
 
The Lawrenceville expansion will support the newly launched line of confections called Snappers, a gourmet sweet snack made with pretzels, caramel and chocolate. Edward Marc Brands, Inc. is a boutique-style chocolatier founded by the Edwards family in 1914. The Snappers line has received nationwide media attention on programs like The Today Show, Good Morning America and Fox Business TV.
 
Edward Marc received a funding proposal from the Department of Community and Economic Development, including a $100,000 Pennsylvania First Program grant that facilitates investment and job creation, $51,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits and $22,950 grant for WEDnetPA that will be used to train the expanding workforce. The company was approved to receive a $500,000 loan from the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund.
 
“Our family business is built upon innovation and the dedication of hardworking Americans. We are honored to be recognized as a leader in job creation and food manufacturing in the state of Pennsylvania,” said Chris Edwards, Edward Marc Brands, Inc. CEO.
 
The project was coordinated by the Governor’s Action Team, an experienced group of economic development professionals who report directly to the Governor and work with businesses that are considering locating or expanding in Pennsylvania.
 
Source: Office of Governor Tom Corbett

Sheraton Pittsburgh at Station Square completes $15 million renovation

In an attempt to make Pittsburgh's only waterfront hotel as beautiful as the views it offers of the city's skyline, the Sheraton Pittsburgh at Station Square recently finished an extensive $15 million renovation. 

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts and Pyramid Hotel Group announced the redesign of the hotel's lobby, meeting space, Trackside Restaurant and 399 transformed guest rooms, including 21 suites.
 
“The transformation of Sheraton Pittsburgh at Station Square combined with the exemplary service of our associates will help to propel it to new heights and reinforce its status as a landmark hotel in the city,” said Roger Life, Sheraton Pittsburgh at Station Square general manager. 
 
Guest rooms and suites have been modernized to include new furniture, wall coverings, carpeting and in-room guest safes. The guest rooms feature stunning views of Pittsburgh’s skyline, the Monongahela River or historic Mount Washington.
 
“There isn’t a hotel that has the ability to look onto the city like ours does,” Life said of the scenic views.
 
Trackside Restaurant, the hotel’s dining venue, has received a new look offering casual dining in a comfortable setting. Life said Trackside offers highboy tables with individual televisions for business or weekend travelers.
 
The hotel at 300 W. Station Square Drive has also refreshed more than 30,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space featuring new wall and ceiling upgrades, carpet and lighting. The centerpiece of the meeting space renovation is the 9,750-square-foot ballroom venue for meetings, workshops and seminars. The full lobby redesign includes new carpet, wall covering, lighting and furniture upgrades. In the transformed lobby, guests can enjoy complimentary wireless connections -- and all rooms offer high-speed Internet.
 
“It’s a lovely transformation for the property,” Life said. “And the city of Pittsburgh.”
 
Guests who book before December 30, 2014, are invited to experience the newly renovated hotel with a special offer for stays through March 31, 2015. For more information, visit www.sheratonpittsburghstationsquare.com/renovation or call 888-325-3535.
 
Source: Roger Life, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts

Colcom Foundation continues support for Paris to Pittsburgh program with $350,000 award

Paris-style sidewalk cafes and facelifts for Downtown buildings have just gotten more affordable, thanks to a recent gift from the Colcom Foundation. 

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership announced a $350,000 award last week from the Colcom Foundation designated to continue the success of the façade renovations and outdoor dining activations through the Paris to Pittsburgh program. The program provides a 50 percent matching grant, of up to $30,000, to Downtown building and business owners interested in completing exterior façade renovations.
 
"Through their investment in the Paris to Pittsburgh program, Colcom Foundation has demonstrated a commitment to restoring and revitalizing properties throughout Downtown, ensuring that Downtown Pittsburgh remains vibrant and beautiful," said Jeremy Waldrup, PDP President and CEO. "Many buildings and businesses have had the opportunity to benefit from this program and we look forward to working with many more as a result of this gift."
 
Colcom Foundation has supported the Paris to Pittsburgh program since its inception in 2007. Initially, the program was designed to encourage the activation of outdoor sidewalk dining at local restaurants, evoking a Parisian atmosphere.
 
In 2011, the program was expanded to allow for full building façade renovations. To date, the program has funded 73 projects in Downtown Pittsburgh, resulting in $4.7 million in private investment, of which $1.7 million has been funded through the grant program.
 
Waldrup said about 90 percent of outdoor dining in Downtown was supported by Paris to Pittsburgh, with Market Square’s outdoor dining being an especially visible example of the program coming to life. Waldrup said all of Market Square’s al fresco dining options have participated in Paris to Pittsburgh.
 
"By restoring historic facades and opening restaurants to outdoor dining, Paris to Pittsburgh draws on the charm of European cities," said Colcom Foundation Vice President of Philanthropy John Rohe. "It builds community. With eyes on the street, it promotes security."
 
The Specialty Luggage Company building, located Downtown at 915 Liberty Ave., recently finished a complete exterior façade renovation. With design work undertaken by Peter Margittai Architects, LLC, upgrades included the removal of aluminum panels and the security gate and the replacement of the entire first floor storefront system and the second floor window system. Additionally, the stone façade was cleaned, windows were restored and painted, and new signage and lighting were installed.
 
Source: Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

Koolkat Designs to take over big red barn as The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh

Since its inception eight years ago, Mt. Lebanon art boutique Koolkat Designs has nurtured local artists and fostered a supportive creative community throughout Pittsburgh. Now, the artist collective is going big, with a re-branding, an expansion into a roomy red barn, and a partnership with one of the neighborhood's most recognizable family businesses.
 
In spring 2015, Koolkat Designs will relocate to the iconic big red barn where Banksville Road becomes McFarland Road in Mt. Lebanon. Koolkat owner Kate McGrady, creative director Kate Wagle Hitmar and Bob, Chuck and Doug Satterfield are working together to create this 10,000-square-foot art and cultural center in the South Hills. The Satterfield brothers are the third-generation owners of Rollier's Hardware; the business occupied the barn space from 1953 to 1994 before moving to its current location on Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon.
 
The new art space will continue in the Koolkat tradition, fully dedicated to showcasing the talents and creations of greater Pittsburgh artists, though the business will be renamed The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh.
 
The building's barn facade appealed to McGrady. 

"There are many art barns throughout the United States. The arts and barns are a natural fit,” she said. “Artists and farmers share a history of producing, crafting by hand, creating something new from the ground up and valuing their communities.”  
 
This expansion was born from Koolkat’s success in the community as the go-to spot for handcrafted jewelry, accessories and art made locally. In its eight years in business on Washington Road, Koolkat grew from 22 local artists to more than 200.
 
"We have truly amazing and loyal customers," McGrady said. "We have ideas and talent that far exceed our existing store's capacity. The Pittsburgh region is overflowing with creative energy, and we want to serve that need in the South Hills.”
 
Wagle Hitmar said she attributes some of this support to the “Buy Local” and “Support Small Business” movements. 
 
"People want to support the arts and their community, and feel connected to the businesses with which they interact. The Satterfields, [McGrady] and I are all Pittsburgh-born and raised; our love for the city is innate. When people shop with us, they're not only supporting our small business, but the creative enterprises of hundreds of fellow Pittsburghers," said Wagle Hitmar.
 
The Satterfields still own the art barn, situated at a well-traveled location not far from where Mt. Lebanon and Dormont meet the City of Pittsburgh. Doug Satterfield, who creates ceramics, explained the need for the Satterfields and McGrady to join forces.

"We decided to put our best qualities together, combine our strengths and to bring something unique to Pittsburgh at a scale not usually seen," Doug Satterfield said. "We share the vision and want to see this develop."  
 
The barn will undergo substantial interior and exterior renovations in the coming months. Berryman Associates Architects of Shadyside are consulting on the design. Tedco Construction Corp. of Carnegie will manage the construction.  
 
The first floor will include a significantly expanded showroom and a café with a performance space for live events, such as musical performances, lectures and life drawing. Larry Lagattuta of Enrico Biscotti will supply artisan foods to the cafe. The downstairs, affectionately dubbed "The Underground," will have additional showroom space, a revolving exhibition gallery and a dedicated teaching space.  
 
In addition to a fresh coat of paint and a new color scheme, 1635 McFarland Road will see other improvements including a re-graded parking lot, a new main entrance, outdoor seating, landscaping, lighting and space for art installations. McGrady said she plans to take full advantage of the outdoor space, using it to host food trucks, farm stands and outdoor eating.  
 
"The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh will be a destination, and help bridge the South Hills to the Greater Pittsburgh arts community. We look forward to collaborating with this community to enhance everyone's exposure and experience with local art, music and food," McGrady said.  
 

Source: Koolkat Designs
 

Haunted History: Senator John Heinz History Center

Before it was the Senator John Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman St. in the Strip District had a much more chilling legacy.
 
No, we’re not talking ghost stories. Well, not yet.
 
In the late 1800s, the building hosted The Chautauqua Lake Ice Company, which stockpiled ice harvested from New York lakes and shipped to Pittsburgh via railcar. 
 
This ice company, which delivered ice to residents in the days before refrigeration, burned down in 1893 and continued operation as The Chautauqua Lake Ice Company. 
 
Unfortunately, the worst was not behind the ice company. The second reconstructed building caught fire in 1898-- and this time it was more serious.
 
Museum Project Manager Lauren Uhl called it a “spectacular fire.” However, the building was reconstructed a third time and stood for good in the same year, 1898.
 
“People have refrigerators and they don’t need ice so much anymore,” Uhl said about the 1950s as she walked me through the site’s history.
 
The ice warehouse closed in 1952 and was sold to Adelman Lumber Company. Uhl said the building served as warehouse space until it was acquired by the Heinz History Center, which opened in 1996.
 
“We wanted something that reflected Pittsburgh’s industrial history,” Uhl said about what made the old ice warehouse an attractive museum space.
 
The building’s history is not lost in the modern museum. Uhl noted intact exposed brick, open space, metal doors, windows and beams from its original warehouse use.

“I’ve always felt in some ways that our building is our best artifact,” she said. 
 
The 1898 fire is also remembered at the History Center through office urban legends and ghost stories.
 
"Our security guards here are definitely prone to spreading tall tales,” said Brady Smith, senior communications manager at the history center. “Whether they’re true or not is up to whoever is listening!"
 
Staff, nighttime security guards and visitors have claimed that supernatural activity happens on the fifth floor, reporting strange sounds and apparitions interacting with exhibits.
 
"I’ve personally never heard [or] seen any ghosts in my four years here, for whatever that’s worth," Smith said.
 
Uhl agreed that she had never experienced anything supernatural at work.
 
“It’s a terrific building and I love working here,” she said, noting the site and the Strip District's significant role in Pittsburgh’s history.

"Ghosts or not, it’s a great place to work,” Uhl added with a laugh.
 
 
Source:  Lauren Uhl, www.heinzhistorycenter.org, Brady Smith

Meet Kristin Saunders, the city's new bicycle and pedestrian coordinator

The City of Pittsburgh’s planning department named Kristin Saunders as its new bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. 
 
A St. Louis native, Saunders comes to Pittsburgh by way of studying architecture at the University of Kansas, followed by working in San Francisco with Gehl Architects.
 
“[Pittsburgh has a] continuous urban fabric that I think is really beautiful,” she says of her new town.
 
Saunders says she was attracted to Pittsburgh because of the work the city is currently doing in public spaces, pedestrian support from Mayor Bill Peduto and how quickly city projects have been completed. Saunders called Pittsburgh’s public spaces high quality and noted the accessible waterfront as something that drew her to the city.
 
“It’s sort of nice being brand-new to the city and the position,” Saunders says, adding that she's making it her job outside of work to learn Pittsburgh. She says she's been having fun getting lost in her new back yard, taking bike rides and walks.
 
She says she's interested in working with pedestrian plazas and spaces where cars, bikes and pedestrians have to interact. Saunders will be doing this type of work with the three new separated bike lanes, locations TBD, coming next year. Saunders said one challenge she'll work on is connecting the new protected Penn Avenue bike lane to Point State Park.
 
Saunders explains that the city’s goals of connecting and extending trail and lanes will help citizens choose non-car transportation.
 
“I think biking and walking should be an easy choice,” she says.
 
Source: Bike PGH, Kristin Saunders

U.S. Steel keeps headquarters in Pennsylvania, invests in Mon Valley

As part of Manufacturing Day, Gov. Tom Corbett and officials from the United States Steel Corporation announced that the company will remain headquartered in Pennsylvania. 
 
The state is committing $30.7 million in grants to U.S. Steel as part of the $187 million initiative to support 4,300 Pennsylvania employees and expand Mon Valley Works operations. The company will re-line one of its Mon Valley Works blast furnaces at its Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock and make improvements to its railroad transportation infrastructure. 
 
“Pennsylvania is the keystone of American manufacturing,” said Corbett. “By addressing all 15 recommendations of the Governor’s Manufacturing Advisory Council, we’ve worked with the private sector to leverage more than $4.9 billion in total investment to create more than 22,000 manufacturing and related jobs, and retained more than 58,000 manufacturing and related jobs. The backbone of U. S. Steel is its workers, and, today, we're investing in the proud Pennsylvania men and women who forge this iron and who can compete and win against any global competitor. When we ‘Make it In PA,’ you know it's done right."   
 
The project was coordinated by the Governor’s Action Team, a group of economic development professionals who report directly to the governor and work with businesses that are considering locating or expanding in Pennsylvania.
 
“Today, steelmaking is one of the most highly advanced types of manufacturing, and our industry creates real and substantial economic value,” said Mario Longhi, President and CEO of U.S. Steel. “We’re proud to make a material that is vital to building and maintaining a modern society. And we’re proud that so much of that work happens right here in Pennsylvania.”
 
Gov. Corbett’s visit to U. S. Steel was part of a statewide effort to promote Pennsylvania manufacturing and address all of the 15 recommendations of the Governor’s Manufacturing Advisory Council. In 2012, the 24-member Council outlined 15 key recommendations to help Pennsylvania remain competitive in today’s global economy.
 
Administration efforts to address all 15 recommendations include strategic investments in workforce development and education, creating a state energy policy, investing in infrastructure improvements via Act 89, opening new domestic and international markets, implementing tax and regulatory reform, improving access to capital, and making government work better by encouraging innovation.
 
Projects supported by the Corbett administration are expected to leverage more than $4.9 billion in private investment and create more than 22,000 manufacturing and related jobs and retain more than 58,000 manufacturing and related jobs.

Lawrenceville's mini-milestone: Wildcard turns five

When owner Rebecca Morris opened Wildcard at 4209 Butler St. in October 2009, Lawrenceville was a different place. Since then, the neighborhood has transformed into one of the city’s most active communities. And Wildcard has been a key player in the neighborhood's retail revitalization.
 
Morris moved to Lawrenceville from Shaler Township in 2003 and said she wanted to open the shop in her own back yard. When she first opened the stationery, craft and gift shop, she said she had to invest in word of mouth and getting people to come to Lawrenceville. While there was some foot traffic, it was nothing like the bustling weekend shoppers the neighborhood sees today.
 
“So many businesses have opened, even in the last five years,” she said. “I really like that a lot of them are not chains … [they are] a lot of small businesses.”
 
On Saturday, Oct. 18, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wildcard will host its Fifth Anniversary Fantastic Festival of Fun, which will include free tote bags to the first 200 customers who spend $10 or more. The event will feature coffee from Espresso a Mano in the morning and an in-store scavenger hunt to win a Wildcard gift card or giant prize basket. And the store will also host an Artist & Small Business Owner Happy Hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
 
The happy hour will feature several of Wildcard’s artists and vendors, including Nick Caruso (MakeBelieveIt.com), Allison Glancey (strawberryluna.com), Becki Hollen & Chris Bencivenga (EverydayBalloonsShop.com), Amy Garbark (GarbellaDesign.com) and Matthew Buchholz (AlternateHistories.com).
 
The Fifth Anniversary Fantastic Festival of Fun will also celebrate the grand opening of Wildcard’s online store, set to launch on the same day. Morris said the online shop was created for customers wanting to send gifts outside of Pittsburgh. She noted that it may take some time for Wildcard’s entire collection to be featured online, but Pittsburgh-inspired items will be some of the first to premiere on the website.
 
Wildcard’s fifth anniversary is also part of Full Time Pittsburgh, a city-wide, open-source festival with events that center around art, design, small business, music and creativity. The festival will run at various locations throughout the city from Thursday, Oct. 16, to Sunday, Oct. 19. Learn more at fulltimepgh.com.
 
Morris thanked Lawrenceville and Pittsburgh for the past five years and invites Pittsburghers to come out and enjoy the free event on Saturday.


Source: Wildcard, Rebecca Morris 

Bloomfield welcomes 4121 Main, a mixed-use arts space and espresso bar

4121 Main, a mixed-use space featuring quality handmade items, curated vintage wares, art and an espresso bar, is coming to Bloomfield. The 4121 Main venture is a partnership among Thommy Conroy and Quelcy Kogel, the stylists behind Harvest & Gather, and local coffee expert Kira Hoeg.
 
The 4121 Main brand premiered at the curated Trade Union trunk show, where it provided pour-over coffees, whole-grain baked goods, prints and artisan products. While the shop is not yet open for regular business hours, 4121 Main’s will join with Unblurred for its first public event on Nov. 7. The partners behind 4121 Main invite Pittsburghers to enjoy an evening of art and Conroy’s new series of alphabet prints with a dark, fairy-tale theme, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 4121 Main St.
 
The space is a creative collaboration that will feature curated products with a common theme or style while providing quality coffee and espresso and whole-grain baked goods. 4121 Main will also host events, workshops and local happenings.
 
When 4121 Main does open with daily hours, the partners envision an evolving space influenced by their personal passions, experiences and seasonal baking and coffee products. Sometimes the shop may offer handmade ceramics, on other visits patrons may peruse a selection of vintage finds. The group promises quality products for the customer who shops with intention.
 
The varied influences come from Conroy, Kogel and Hoeg’s backgrounds, travels and interests. Conroy described the partnership as taking their available skills and creating a larger picture.  
 
Hoeg has an anthropology background and sees coffee as a cultural pastime. In addition to her experience with Pittsburgh coffee and espresso bars, she has traveled from Scandinavia to Turkey to California to explore how people are communicating with coffee and what other coffee and espresso retailers are doing in the United States.
 
“Exchanging time and moments has always been my interest in coffee,” Hoeg said about the type of atmosphere she envisions at 4121 Main, adding the she wants to create a coffee culture inviting ideas, dialogue and curiosity. Also important to Hoeg is the transparency of where the coffee was grown and the craft of roasting it. She will be sourcing from Heart Coffee in Portland and will be working on an espresso machine hand-built in Holland.
 
Kogel will provide the baked goods to accompany the espresso bar. She currently chronicles her passion for baking with whole grains and natural ingredients on her blog With the Grains. She said she hopes to offer cakes and breads that are “a wholesome way to satisfy your sweet tooth.”
 
Harvest & Gather’s Conroy and Kogel will rebrand under the 4121 Main moniker and will offer event-design services. Conroy described the group as “natural hosts and entertainers” and said this aspect will be part of 4121’s model.
 
The collaborative setting will also feature workshops and have a DIY-inspired element. The partners said they hope to offer how-to sessions from floral arrangements to entertaining and decorating tips.
 
The first event will be held on Friday, Nov. 7, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 4121 Main St. in Bloomfield between Liberty and Penn avenues.
 

 

Urban gardening shop opens in Lawrenceville

Lawrenceville welcomed an urban gardening store last week with the opening of City Grows, a new gardening and gift shop with an urban twist.

Located at 5208 Butler St. in Upper Lawrenceville, the organic garden shop specializes in container and vertical gardens for the city dweller. City Grows carries fresh herbs and vegetables, dry herbs, composters, rain barrels and educational gardening books. The store also offers an array of green gifts, from organic skincare products to candles. 
 
"Everything is made from recycled or reclaimed wood," said City Grows owner Patty Logan of her shop’s unique container materials. She described merchandise from vertical container gardens made from re-used mason jars to sustainable hangers for indoor herb gardens.
 
Logan said the opening was catered by neighboring Upper Lawrenceville shop 52nd Street Market and offered acoustic music and raffles. She said the opening was well-received in the neighborhood.
 
“Lawrenceville, on its own, is growing as a young urban population,” she said, noting residents have an interest in gardens but lack the space. “People here get it …  I knew when I had the concept to do this shop this is exactly where I needed to be."
 
In the future, Logan hopes to offer chicken coops and beekeeping equipment. City Grows will also provide classes in organic gardening, beekeeping and backyard chickens.

The Urban Gardener on Brighton Road in the North Side sowed the seeds of the urban gardening trend when it opened in 1997 at the site of an abandoned gas station. The shop has been supplying city dwellers with gardening essentials ever since.

Source: City Grows, Patty Logan 
 

Landmarks Community Capital Corporation awards $99,000 loan to Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation

Landmarks Community Capital Corporation, a nonprofit lending subsidiary of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, closed on a $99,000 construction loan to the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation in September to renovate its storied community center.
 
The loan will provide rehabilitation funds for BGC's community center, located on North Pacific Avenue in Garfield. This building, a former Methodist church constructed in 1898, serves as a primary meeting place for public events in the Garfield community.
 
Rick Swartz, BGC executive director, explained that the Landmarks Community Capital Corporation was interested in the community center as an important part of the neighborhood. Although the 19th-century church is not a certified historic landmark, the building has a lot of history, Swartz said.
 
“It is something of a historical asset in the neighborhood,” Swartz said. 
 
The first phase of building improvements include: new flooring in the main hall, window replacements, heating and cooling upgrades, new entry doors, painting and enhanced lighting. Exterior brickwork, window replacements and outdoor painting are also planned to enhance the building as a visible part of the neighborhood.
 
The BGC serves Bloomfield, Garfield and Friendship; the center provides programming for those communities, including a BGC children’s summer camp. Swartz says these improvements will benefit events and programming.
 
He said renovations will make the space more attractive for neighbors seeking a family-friendly venue. He said he hopes the upgrades to lighting and lower-volume heating and cooling can attract more professional and job orientation sessions. The improved temperature systems will also help with costs to the nonprofit.
 
Swartz said it is difficult to find grants and gifts for building improvements of this kind. But the loan from the Landmarks Community Capital Corporation is helping the BGC get started.  Swartz noted that the Urban Redevelopment Authority did assist the BGC with a $5,000 grant for community center renovations. And, he said, Garfield resident and architect Gary Cirrincione is lending a hand by assisting in plans and overseeing construction.
 
“We’re just trying to make it … a space you feel very comfortable in,” Swartz said, adding that he hopes neighbors see it as a place for meetings, baby showers and anniversary parties in the future.
 
Construction on the BGC community center should be completed December 2014.
 
Source: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, Rick Swartz

Governor Corbett highlights $28.5 million Birmingham Bridge repair project as example of Act 89

Last week, Gov. Tom Corbett stood before the Birmingham Bridge and declared that its $28.5 million repair project underscores the benefits coming to Pennsylvania because of Act 89, a transportation plan.
 
Act 89, which the governor signed in November, increases transportation investment by $2.3 billion by 2018.
 
"My administration is working hard to deliver the hundreds of additional projects for this year from Act 89 proceeds, and the Birmingham Bridge is a very visible example of what we are delivering," Gov. Corbett said at the news conference near the bridge.
 
The 2,747-foot-long, 19-span bridge opened in 1976 and carries 23,000 vehicles a day. With resources from Act 89, PennDOT was able to accelerate the timetable so work on the bridge could begin this year.
 
Act 89 also supports jobs for local workers, the governor added, noting that the transportation plan saved an estimated 12,000 jobs and will create 18,000 additional jobs this year and 50,000 jobs in the next five years.
 
PennDOT's latest projections show that more than $2.3 billion will be invested into the state's highway and bridge network this year, more than $800 million above what would have been available without Act 89.
 
In Pittsburgh, Act 89 spared the Port Authority of Allegheny County from a trend of cutting service and alienating riders, according to the Governor’s Office. Act 89 funding allows the Port Authority to target improvements, such as overcrowding on routes and on-time performance issues.
 
Joseph B. Fay Co. of Tarentum was awarded the $28.5 million contract for the work on the Birmingham Bridge. It will involve steel repairs, bearing replacements, substructure repairs, light pole replacements, a concrete overlay and a complete repainting. The work is now underway and will be finished in 2017.
 
PennDOT has started work on more than 200 Act 89-funded projects covering more than 1,600 miles of roads and 83 bridges. Overall, more than 900 projects are expected to get underway this year, both from Act 89 and prior funding streams.
 
Source: Pennsylvania Office of the Governor
 

Frick Art & Historical Center receives $3 million redevelopment grant

The Frick Art & Historical Center in Point Breeze has secured a $3 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant from Harrisburg. The funding will go toward building a new education and community center, which is the second phase of the museum's current $15 million expansion project.
 
"This remarkable gift propels the campaign toward its $15 million goal and affirms the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's support of this important project, which will greatly enhance [the] Frick's ability to provide the public with essential educational and cultural experiences," said Frick Trustee and Campaign Chair Charles R. Burke, Jr.
 
Before learning of the RACP funding, the Frick had raised just over $10.5 million toward its campaign goal. The $3 million RACP grant, part of an economic growth initiative program, puts the total raised at more than $13.5 million.
 
Funding for the Frick Education and Community Center project will serve East End neighborhoods and enhance the museum. The project will broaden the Frick's educational outreach to children and allow the museum to better accommodate bus tours and seniors. The project is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2016.
 
"We are grateful for the generous support of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and believe that the Education and Community Center project will strengthen the Frick as a cultural and educational anchor in the East End," said Carolyn Reed, Chair of the Frick's Board of Trustees.
 
This summer, the Frick opened a new orientation center, marking the completion of Phase I of the expansion project that began in May 2013. The new facility serves as a focal point for arriving visitors and includes a range of educational interactive activities. The orientation center also houses a new museum store.
 
“[Phase II] will include new learning spaces,” said Greg Langel, media and marketing manager at the Frick.
 
The second phase of the expansion project calls for a new education center in the current Carriage Gallery of the Car and Carriage Museum, a renovated facility onsite. Renovating the Carriage Gallery will also help the Frick to enhance collection storage, Langel said.

The project will allow for construction of a new community center that will provide additional education and program space and create a venue for events. The center will have a prep kitchen to better accommodate bus tours and field trips.
 
“[The community center will] increase our ability to serve greater numbers of individuals,” Langel said. “We’re really excited about the grant and it pushes so close to our total goal. It’s a statement that the Commonwealth supports arts and culture in western Pennsylvania.”
 
 

Trade Union hosts trunk show at Mon Wharf

Trade Union Trunk Show is back for its Autumn/Winter fashion and style event. On Saturday, Oct. 4, the biannual trunk show will bring locally minted goods from clothing to furniture to the Mon Wharf, Downtown— showcasing an urban, uniquely Pittsburgh setting.  
 
Launched this past spring, the Trade Union Trunk Show seeks to bring together the city's established and emerging brands and depict the Made in Pittsburgh moniker as one rooted in creativity and quality.  
 
With each event, Trade Union presents a one-of-a-kind space and local partners to host the day’s activities. For their A/W 2014 Trunk Show, Trade Union worked with lead sponsor, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, to bring the free event to the Mon Wharf. Vendors, food and local DJ sets handpicked by VIA as part of their 2014 festival will enliven the event.
 
“We are always eager to partner on creative re-inventions of space in Downtown,” said Jeremy Waldrup, President and CEO of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “The Trade Union Trunk Show again extends our mission to support creative uses of unique urban spaces in our Downtown neighborhood.”
 
Michael McAllister, Trade Union co-producer, said the event is more than the average craft fair. While vendors and goods are local, Trade Union strives to ensure a cohesive, stylized event. From flyers to displays, Harvest & Gather is styling the trunk show.  McAllister explained that he and event co-producer Emily Slagel of Mid-Atlantic Mercantile see design and creativity as “an integral part of Pittsburgh’s future growth and development.”
 
He said they were inspired by stylized trunk shows in other cities and wanted to bring the model to Pittsburgh for products minted and made in the city. About 15 vendors will sell products including stationery, letterpress, furniture and vintage clothing.
 
Vendors include: Mid-Atlantic Mercantile Found Home Collection (handpicked and found homewares); Royal Establishment; Merissa Lombardo/Pete Johnson Studios; Homestead Supply Co. (leather goods); Perry & Co.; Kicky Feet Vintage; Tugboat Printshop; Bones & All; Studebaker Metals (a local designer whose jewelry is available at Urban Outfitters); Sapling Press; Red Pop Shop; Modesto Studios; UpTo; and Spaces Corners (photography books).
 
McAllister said two restaurants are also premiering: TAKÖ, globally inspired tacos from the newest Downtown venture from the Meat & Potatoes team; and 4121 Main, a mixed-use space featuring handmade goods, art and an espresso bar coming soon to Lawrenceville.
 
Trade Union will be held at the Mon Wharf, 1 Ft Pitt Blvd., Saturday, Oct. 4, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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