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From Etsy to a storefront: Garbella's handmade goods and gear

In just a few short years Amy Garbark has turned a screen-printing hobby into a thriving storefront business.

Garbella, Garbark's hand-screen-printed apparel, accessories and home goods line, began as an Etsy store in 2006 but now boasts distribution in over 50 stores across the country, and locally in boutiques like Lawrenceville's WildCard. In May Garbark is moving production to a storefront in Lower Lawrenceville, a building she has recently bought with her husband, Stephen Cummings.

 "I've always been a maker," Garbark says, "In 2008 I set up a little studio in my basement, and started from there."

Garbark's first foray into screen-printing began with an I Bike Pittsburgh t-shirt, made just for herself and friends, at Artists Image Resource (AIR). But the shirt became popular with other cyclists in the city, and remains a top seller. Other designs include P is For Pierogi baby onesies and bibs, a line of women's and men's clothing, clocks made from reused bicycle parts, as well as kitchen items and tote bags.

With exposure at The Handmade Arcade and I Made It! Market craft shows Garbella continued to grow, and in 2008 it became her fulltime job. As the business grew and production slowly took over her living space, Garbella clearly needed a home of its own. In preparation for her first wholesale industry tradeshow last August, Garbark moved production to a small storefront in Morningside.

But when the space in Lawrenceville became available—a small, 1,000-square-foot, one-story commercial structure amidst residences—it offered Garbark an opportunity to create a custom production facility suited to Garbella’s specific needs. Garbark is working with JCI Development to raise the flat roof, create storage space, and install skylights that will add an abundance of natural lighting.

Garbark and Cummings have lived in Lawrenceville for several years. "I am excited to bring my business back here and be able to easily walk or ride my bike to work," Garbark says.
 

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Amy Garbark

Eat + Drink: Tender Bar + Kitchen; Notion now open; Redbeard's; The Pub Chip Shop

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly roundup of Pittsburgh's food scene.


- Tender Bar + Kitchen will celebrate a grand opening next Friday, April 5th. The restaurant features a “Gatsby-era atmosphere,” regional American cuisine, and a craft cocktail list.

Renovations to the restaurant’s historic building—the former Arsenal Bank—unearthed artifacts such as bank checks from the 1890’s, a pair of handmade stone dice, and a vault alarm system, whose 1930’s electronics will be on display in the restaurant.

Tender is the second concept from Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina proprietor Jeff Catalina.  The menu includes regional dishes such as lobster rolls, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits. Tender is located at 4300 Butler Street, Lawrenceville. 412-402-9522.

- Notion has reopened in East Liberty. Chef-owner David Racicot closed the original Oakmont eatery in late 2011 with plans to bring the restaurant to a more central location in Pittsburgh. The smaller, 28-seat space is located at 128 S. Highland Avenue, near the neighborhood's many popular dining destinations, including BRGR, Abay Ethiopian Cuisine, Paris 66, and more.

- Piper's Pub owner Drew Topping is opening a new United Kingdom-style fish-and-chip shop called The Pub Chip Shop. The menu will include pasties, a stuffed British pastry, and other U.K. take-out fare.  It will be located in the adjacent Victorian storefront to Piper's Pub, at 1830 E. Carson Street. 

- Redbeard's  on 6th Sports Bar and Grill is opening soon in Downtown Pittsburgh, at 144 6th Street. It is a second location of the original Redbeard’s, which has served Mount Washington for more than 20 years.

Redbeard’s replaces the former Palazzo Ristorante, and is adjacent to Six Penn Kitchen. The Roberto Clemente Bridge is just one block away, which connects pedestrians to PNC Park on Pirates game days.
 

Writer: Andrew Moore

Eat + Drink: Matteo's now open; Salud Cuban-American; raw vegan at Marty's Market

Eat + Drink is Pop City's roundup of Pittsburgh's food scene.

Matteo's has opened recently on Lawrenceville's Butler Street, serving Italian cuisine with an emphasis on seafood and steak.

Matteo's is the project of husband and wife duo Matt and Andrea Cavanaugh. Chef Matt Cavanaugh has worked for the past 15 years in the region's dining scene, including Redbull Inn in Robinson Township, and Sarafino's in Crafton. This is the Cavanaughs' first restaurant.

The restaurant’s interior was renovated for Matteo's and seats up to 38 in the dining room. A full-service bar seats an additional 12.

Cavanaugh says assistance from the Urban Redevelopment Authority—including writing a business plan and securing loans—was instrumental in the restaurant's opening.

Matteo's is located next to Pageboy Salon & Boutique at 3615 Butler Street. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. 412-586-7722.

- A new Cuban restaurant is opening soon, also in Lawrenceville.

The owners of Salud Cuban-American Restaurant and Lounge hope to be open by the beginning of next week. Chef and co-owner Radames Magro says the cuisine will feature traditional Cuban entrees, with sides like plantains and yuca, homemade empanadas and papas rellenas, as well as fusion items with classic American fare.

Magro, who was born in Cuba, previously catered events in the area. Magro and co-owner Terry Hircik have been planning Salud for the past decade, he says.

A local muralist will soon depict scenes from Cuba in the restaurant's dining room. Magro says live music and salsa dancing are planned for the lounge space, where the bar will specialize in mojitos, Daiquiris, and other Cuban drinks.

Salud is located in the former Salac's bar, at 4517 Butler Street. 412-605-0233.

- If you've ever wondered how to make great-tasting raw, vegan, and gluten-free meals, a new event at Marty's Market aims to teach you how.

"Raw food artists" Joni James and Daniel Lewis are teaching weekly classes at the organic food market, titled "Raw Possibilities." Attendees will get instruction on making simple yet creative meals from raw vegan ingredients.

Classes are held each Sunday, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., and Monday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.  For more information, and to register, visit Marty's Market's website.
 
Writer: Andrew Moore

Unifaun, Rather Ripped, new record stores in Lawrenceville

Unifaun Records opened last week in Upper Lawrenceville, the second record shop to open in the neighborhood in just two months.

Located at 5417 Butler Street, the shop is owned by recent Brooklyn-transplant Larry DeMellier.  Unifaun specializes in rock, jazz, and Americana, as well as soul, prog, psych, and other “record collecting” genres, DeMellier says.

DeMellier had worked in New York City’s music industry ever since graduating from Syracuse University in 1997.  Having spent time at Sire, London, and Warner Bros. Records—and at record shops in high school and college—DeMellier amassed a sizeable record collection, and a passion for the hobby. 

But as that industry began to downsize, DeMellier looked to Pittsburgh—where his family has migrated—for a new opportunity.  He believes Pittsburgh’s music history, live music scene, and record collecting culture make it a place where record shops can still thrive.  “I believe there’s room for all of us,” he says.

In addition to vinyl, DeMellier’s collection of 60’s and 70’s non-commercial posters—used to promote an album’s release—are on display throughout the shop.  The music inventory consists primarily of used vinyl and CD’s, but DeMellier expects to carry new vinyl releases in the near future.

Unifaun’s storefront location had been vacant for the past five years, but was most recently an auto-parts store.

And another shop, a new incarnation of Rather Ripped Records, has opened recently at 4314 Butler Street.  It’s a new life for the shop which first opened over 40 years ago in Berkeley, California, and hosted album signings for bands like the Clash, Blondie, and Sonic Youth.

Lawrenceville’s third record store, 720 Records, opened on Butler Street two years ago.  Located at 4405 Butler Street, 720 specializes in hip-hop, soul, and jazz, and also serves as a performance space, café, and clothing shop. 

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Larry DeMellier

Pittsburgh Paragliding instructor is first to speedfly from Machu Picchu

Last month Pittsburgh resident Jon Potter became the first person to speedfly from the top of Peru’s Machu Picchu.  The flight, which is like paragliding but much faster, wasn’t permitted and afterward involved hiding from authorities in the jungle for several hours.

Having conquered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Potter is back to a tamer pursuit: teaching paragliding to Pittsburghers.

Last fall, Potter launched Pittsburgh Paragliding with lifelong friend Adam Schwartz.  Since opening they’ve taught the sport to over a hundred folks in the hills of Allegheny County.  For $195 students get two hours of instruction, which Potter says is ample time to learn to fly.

“I have never had someone who wasn’t able to fly,” he says.  “It’s relatively easy to start out.”

Paragliding is free flight using a parachute that’s large enough to actually gain lift.  According to Potter, a flyer can stay in the air for hours at a time.  With speedflying, a flyer can only go down, and at very high speeds.

The business is the only of its kind in Western Pennsylvania.  Schwartz and Potter are licensed through the United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association.  All equipment for gliding or flying is provided, except for boots, which students should be comfortable running in.

Lessons typically take place in Hampton Township, but locations are subject to change based on wind conditions.

Unpredictable wind conditions are one of the main reasons speedflying from Machu Picchu, which descends from 7,970 feet above sea level into a steep canyon, is considered so dangerous.  A previous paragliding attempt from Machu Picchu was successful, but according to Potter, he was the first to speedfly from the heritage site.

“There’s something to be said about doing something first,” he says.  “It’s like the bread and butter of what paragliding is all about, being able to do something so monumental.”

Potter is also co-operator of Not Another Hostel, in Lawrenceville.  The donations-based hostel opened last summer, and is the only accommodation of its kind in Pittsburgh.  The University of California, Berkley is currently studying the hostel’s pay model.

Click here to watch a video of Potter's speedflight off Machu Picchu.
 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Jon Potter

The Row at 38 will bridge old and new with renovated and newly built homes in Lawrenceville

The Row @ 38 is bringing old and new Lawrenceville together under a single new project.  Located north of Butler Street (near Coca Café), E Properties and Development is renovating three existing homes and constructing three new houses to fill in the gaps of this neighborhood block.

The older homes, built over 100 years ago, will be updated to include modern amenities and open floor plans.  Façades will offer reference to the neighborhood’s historic character, however an added third floor, which is set back from the street, will feature modern building materials including corrugated metal and cement board siding.

“It was very important for us to create something that was contextual in the neighborhood, but unique enough to stand out,” says Emeka Onwugbenu, of E Properties. 

The new home construction will have a more complete modern look, and will include off-street parking and rooftop decks.  And both options—renovation or new—will allow buyers a high level of customization and involvement in the design process.

In 2012 the Lawrenceville Corporation issued an RFP to find a developer for two empty parcels on 38th Street.  E Properties was selected for the project, but then expanded its scope by reaching out to adjacent property owners on the block to acquire four more parcels.

Renovation of the three existing homes has begun, and is expected to be complete by the end of March.  Onwugbenu hopes to break ground on the new construction in April. 

Renovated homes—one of which is already spoken for—will be listed at $250,000, and new construction at $375,000.

E Properties is behind several other developments in the Lawrenceville area, including E @ 36, a renovation of three townhomes on 36th Street.  Croghan’s Edge, an infill development on Penn Avenue’s 3400 block, won an AIA Pittsburgh architecture award in last year’s Design Pittsburgh celebration.

Moss Architects, designers of Croghan's Edge, have joined E Properties again for The Row @ 38.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Emeka Onwugbenu

Shops at Doughboy get $250,000 grant, boosts redevelopment of important city square

It has been decades since Lawrenceville’s Doughboy Square was a vibrant urban center.  But with a $250,000 grant to the Shops at Doughboy, a planned mixed-use development, redevelopment there has been given another boost.

The Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority last week awarded the community infrastructure and tourism grant to the $7 million, 48,000-square-foot project. 

The Shops will be adjacent to the Roberto Clemente Museum at the intersection of Penn Avenue and Butler Street.  Central Real Estate Holdings, a partnership between October Development and Senko Construction, is the developer. 

The URA, which has been heavily involved in redevelopment of Doughboy Square, requested the grant from the county.  The funds will be used for site work ahead of construction, which is expected to begin next spring.

The URA’s Paul Svoboda calls the site a “100% corner” that is important not just to Lawrenceville, but to the entire city.  The intersection is a gateway between Lower Lawrenceville and the Strip District.

Though the project has been reviewed by a number of neighborhood organizations, designs and renderings are yet to be finalized. 

Because of a slope at the site, parking will be integrated below the Penn Avenue street grade, accessible from the building’s rear.  Retail will front the street, with residential units above. 

Svoboda praises the developers for taking an early financial risk in acquiring the site, and for working with local stakeholders to ensure the design is amenable to all parties.

“There’s some risk that they took, but the rewards are going to be big,” Svoboda says.  “Not only for them, but for the whole city.”

Svoboda says recent investments in the square are making good on priorities outlined years ago in blueprints such as the Allegheny Riverfront Vision Plan, which called for an intense focus on Doughboy Square.

Shops at Doughboy is building on the momentum of several other projects in the square.  In the 3400 block, the Doughboy Square Townhomes development, which was completed last year, brought five single-family infill homes to the neighborhood. 

And at 3431 Butler Street, the planned Doughboy Apartments is a four story, mixed income and mixed use building that includes 39 apartment units and 17,000 square-feet of first-floor commercial space.  

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore                                                                                            
Source:  Paul Svoboda

Eat + Drink: Wigle's aged whiskey released; Noodlehead; Franktuary; and a new speakeasy downtown

Eat + Drink is Pop City's roundup of Pittsburgh's food scene.


- BZ’s Bar and Grill is now open on the North Shore.  Open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., the restaurant features what owner/manager Brandon Herriott calls “twisted American cuisine.”  Menu items include crab and avocado mac and cheese, pizza with house-made chorizo, a “turducken” burger, and more.

BZ’s is located at 140 Federal Street, directly across from PNC Park.  And while Herriott expects his business to do well during game days, he hopes the community will embrace the establishment beyond events.  “I want to be part of the neighborhood,” he says.

The restaurant seats 200 guests, including a private dining space and meeting room.  In the spring, BZ’s expects to add 40-50 patio seats.  412-323-BZBG

- Pittsburgh’s newest Thai restaurant, Noodlehead, is now open in Shadyside.  A BYOB, the eatery specializes in noodle dishes from the street markets of Thailand.  The menu features just ten $6 and $9 noodle dishes, and a few snacks, such as Thai fried chicken ($6.50) and pork belly steamed buns ($6).

Noodlehead is located at 242 South Highland Avenue, and is cash only. 

Franktuary’s new Lawrenceville location (3810 Butler Street) is officially scheduled to open later this month, on December 21st.  The restaurant will have a bar, and will seat around 100.

Fans of the downtown location should fear not, the original shop (325 Oliver Avenue) will stay open.  Likewise,  the Franktuary Food Truck will continue with mobile service.

- Pittsburgh’s first batch of aged whiskey since prohibition will be released by Wigle Whiskey next Saturday, December 15th.  And although Wigle has been open since last year, offering its white whiskey, these are its first aged rye and wheat whiskeys, aged in small, 10 gallon oak barrels for six months.  In the spirit of craft innovation, the distillery has finished several of the oak barreled whiskey with cherry and maple honeycombed wood for a variety of flavors. 

The distillery also recently launched its Wigle Ginever, a Dutch-style gin, popular before the advent of large commercial stills.  It is one of only two produced in the nation.

-  Continuing with the theme of prohibition—today is the 79th anniversary of its repeal—the Omni William Penn Hotel has reopened a former speakeasy in the historic building’s lower level.  The new bar’s interior replicates the original décor, and a cocktail list features researched drinks from the ‘20’s.  The speakeasy is open from 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Thursdays through Saturdays.  530 William Penn Place, Downtown. 


 
Writer:  Andrew Moore

PLAY Arcade and Lounge planned for Lawrenceville, open house preview this Saturday

When PLAY Arcade and Lounge opens its doors to the public it will be unlike other nightlife destinations in Lawrenceville.  Rather than offering a menu of carefully crafted cocktails or locally sourced produce, PLAY is specializing in hand-made games of the past.

PLAY is the brainchild of sculptor Adam Shreckhise, who has personally designed and built the arcade’s many games.  The space features miniature golf, skeeball, darts, Whack-a-Mole, and more, presented in a lounge or coffeehouse-like setting.

“It’s set up as either an alternative to, or an accompaniment to, going out to restaurants, going out to bars,” Shreckhise says.  “Something a little out of the ordinary to do while you’re hanging out with your friends or meeting new people.”

Everything at PLAY was built by Shreckhise himself, including the many gears and motors which animate the games.  As an artist, Shreckhise describes his latest work as “electro-mechanical, pseudo robotic sculpture,” a style that has worked well for interpreting classic arcade games.

In the future, Shreckhise says he’d like to call on local artists to submit proposals for games that they’d like to build, or adaptations to existing ones.

Shreckhise plans to operate PLAY as a BYOB establishment.  An entrance fee will be charged, allowing guests unlimited access to games.

Due to pending requests from the city’s zoning board, Shreckhise has postponed the lounge’s opening to this spring.  However, this Saturday, November 3rd, an open house and fundraiser will be free and open to the public, from 6 to 10 p.m.  Saturday’s event will not be BYOB, but Shreckhise is hoping to pair with other local establishments to offer food and drinks.

PLAY is located at 5258 Butler Street in Upper Lawrenceville.  412-345-1367.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Adam Shreckhise

Eat + Drink: Wild Purveyors Market Stand; Benjamin's Burger Bar; soul food and mobile food

- The Wild Purveyor’s Market Stand is now open in Upper Lawrenceville.  An evolution of the wholesale wild-foods business started by brothers Cavan and Tom Patterson, the market features local Pennsylvania cheeses, meats, and produce, as well as an assortment of seasonally foraged foods.  Currently in stock: chicken of the woods and hen of the woods mushrooms.

And the Second Annual Pittsburgh Picklefest will take place at the market this Saturday.  The event is presented by Crested Duck Charcuterie and Slow Food Pittsburgh.  5308 Butler Street, Lawrenceville.  412-206-WILD.

-  Benjamin’s Western Avenue Burger Bar is scheduled to open tonight in Allegheny West.  The restaurant is operated by Paul Tebbets, co-owner of Toast! in Shadyside, and the former BRiX Wood Fired Wine Bar, which the new restaurant replaces. 

BRiX closed its doors earlier this year after difficulties with a zoning permit for its wood-fired pizza oven.  The burger bar will be similar in concept to BRiX while swapping pizza for burgers.  Benjamin’s is located at 900 Western Avenue in the Northside.

-  Fredrick’s Soul Food is now open Monday through Saturday on Smithfield Street, in Downtown Pittsburgh, serving breakfast at 6:30 a.m.  Fredrick’s specializes in chicken and waffles, ribs and wings, yams, greens, and mac & cheese. 

Fredrick’s is owned by Larry Ross.  Ross says the menu consists of family recipes, and his kitchen staff is headed by his daughters Maya and Seaera.  412-232-1900. 633 Smithfield Street.  6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

-  Sal’s City Deli is opening soon in downtown, and will feature made-to-order sandwiches, fresh salads, and homemade soups.  It will be located at 245 Seventh Street, next to the Benedum Theater in the Cultural District.

-  In addition to locations in East Liberty and Cranberry, BRGR’s gourmet burgers are now available to downtown lunch crowds via The BRGR Food Truck.  From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. it will be parked at Grant Street and Forbes Avenue, Monday through Friday.  It also makes regular appearances in the Strip District, on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 21st Street and Penn Avenue.

-  Another newcomer to Pittsburgh’s mobile food scene is Oh My Grill, a specialty grilled-cheese themed food truck.  724-996-3955.
 
 Click here for more information about food trucks in Pittsburgh.


Writer:  Andrew Moore

Digital cinema, bottle shop planned for Butler Street in Lawrenceville

A former convenience store in Lawrenceville may soon become an independent theater and craft beer shop.

Botero Development is planning a 72-seat digital theater and bottle shop, to be located in the former Star Discount building at 4115 Butler Street.  Developer Brian Mendelssohn plans to remake the building’s first floor and basement into a theater specializing in classic films.

According to Mendelssohn, although there were once three cinemas in Lawrenceville, the neighborhood has been without a theater since the 1960’s. 

Rather than showing the latest blockbuster, the theater will curate films based on what Mendelssohn is calling marathon-based programming.  He says this could mean a series of films from directors like Alfred Hitchcock or Wes Anderson, a Lord of the Rings marathon, or even a showing of classic ‘80’s comedies. 

Mendelssohn says the initial investment in digital theater equipment will be considerable, but he expects the community to support the endeavor.

“I think this movie theater and the bottle shop fit right into what Lawrenceville has become and what our identity is,” he says.

In addition to the theater Mendelssohn plans to build an accompanying bottle shop within the building, allowing theater goers to purchase beer and drink beverages during films. The bottle shop will specialize in craft and import beers, both in draft and bottle form.

Mendelssohn says the shop will not have a bar-like setting; rather its experience will be more like visiting a winery.  He plans to host tastings, brewer talks, education sessions, and paring events.

“We really want to create a whole community celebrating local beer,” he says.

Botero is seeking special zoning exceptions related to parking configurations.  The board will make a decision within the next 45 days.  Pending approval, Mendelssohn expects to begin construction in December, and to have a grand opening for the theater and bottle shop next September.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Brian Mendelssohn


The Frown Crown boutique now open in Lawrenceville, illustrator Matt Gondek

Like many independent illustrators and designers Matt Gondek spent much of his time working from home.  Too much time in fact. To change his lifestyle, Gondek has opened a new urban boutique and design studio, The Frown Crown, in Upper Lawrenceville.

“I wanted to get out of my house and talk to people throughout the day,” Gondek says.  He hopes to use the shop as a meeting place for clients, as well as a place to build connections in the community. And while the shop functions as a regular clothing boutique, Gondek is in a back studio working on various illustrations, some of which will end up in his Jock n’ Roll clothing line in the new shop.

It wasn’t until Gondek participated in a pop up shop event that he realized the potential benefits of a brick-and-mortar space. The 2 Week Street Boutique, hosted by Fe Gallery this past May, drew a very positive reception. 

Inspired by that success, he sought a new permanent space. Now, he hopes the boutique will help other local designers gain more recognition.

In addition to clothing, the shop features prints from local artists, national underground brands, as well as Gondek’s own artwork, illustrations, and vinyl figures.

Gondek, who was named Pittsburgh Magazine's Best Local Artist in 2011, says his work is geared toward younger people, and is bold, colorful, and cartoon-like. “I try to put something on a shirt that gets people’s attention quickly and is recognizable,” he says.

The Frown Crown is located at 5179 Butler Street, next to Remedy Restaurant and Lounge, and is open noon to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Matt Gondek

Hatfield + Home to bring new homes to Lawrenceville, one block from riverfront

Construction of Lawrenceville’s newest housing development, Hatfield + Home, is now underway.  A mix of detached homes and duplexes, the project will bring a total of 14 new units to  Hatfield Street, approximately one block from the Allegheny River.

The development is located within the planned Allegheny Riverfront Green Boulevard corridor.  Lauren Byrne, of Lawrenceville United, says this project builds momentum for that long-term plan, allowing residents and business owners to see goals fulfilled in the short-term.

“Right now there's a lot of planning to reconnect our community and all of the great things happening there with the riverfront, and to reestablish that connection,” Byrne says.   “This specific housing project is one of the first things we actually see happening that's able to do that.”

The development will include a mix of six different plans, with two and three-bedroom units offered from the mid-$200,000 to high-$300,000 range.

Exteriors will feature brick with metal sheathing, HardiePlank lap siding, and glass.  Developer Bob Mistik says the idea is to tie the design to the history and character of Lawrenceville but also to make a statement about the neighborhood’s future. Architects Perfido, Weiskopf, Wagstaff + Goettel designed the project.

The development site was assembled by the URA with support from Mayor Ravenstahl’s office.  The URA also provided a $200,000 grant from its Pittsburgh Housing Construction Fund.

Hatfield + Home will be built in two phases.  The first phase, which is underway, will include six units scheduled for completion early in 2013. 


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Lauren Byrne

Allegheny River Green Boulevard plan moving forward, Strip and Lawrenceville redevelopment

The Allegheny River Green Boulevard is beginning to take shape.  At last week's public meeting, project leaders unveiled specific information about the corridor's future, including a detailed six-mile bicycle/pedestrian path alignment.

The uninterrupted bicycle path is set to run along  Allegheny Valley Railroad's freight corridor between Lawrenceville and the Strip.  

But while AVR continues to pursue commuter rail service in this area, Green Boulevard leaders want to move some aspects of the project forward sooner rather than later.

"We'd love to see new transit options in there, but we also want to move some elements of the plan forward before that," says Lena Andrews, URA senior planning specialist.  "We don’t want to wait for that to happen."

At the meeting, consultants presented test scenarios for Lawrenceville's 43rd Street master plan, which included passive recreation space along the river between 43rd and 48th Streets and a mix of riverfront townhomes and multi-unit buildings.

In the Strip District, consultants recommend future developments to include a 95-foot setback from the river.

Andrews says community members in attendance were supportive of the boulevard project, particularly for the bicycle/pedestrian trail and commuter rail options, but also were eager to see improvements in storm water infrastructure.

Possible funding sources for the project were discussed, and included special assessment districts, tax increment financing, corporate sponsorship, and contributions from foundations.

Andrews says another possibility for making the project financially feasible is to reduce the development's parking requirement.

A reduced parking requirement should make sense for the Green Boulevard.  One of the project’s goals is to reduce the city’s dependence on automobiles by increasing transit options and by providing a safe and direct bicycle corridor.

"It makes a huge amount of sense, and that's the point of building all this new infrastructure…to enable people to live a little less dependently on the automobile,” Andrews says.  “To have a district where the parking requirement is a little bit lower, that not only has benefits for the environment but it makes it cheaper to build, too."

The last public forum will be held later this year in November.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Lena Andrews, URA

Abandoned pool? Create an EcoBeastie.

What's a community to do with an abandoned pool ?
 
That was the challenge for the Leslie Park Pool Collective (LLPC) in Lawrenceville looking to reconceive the space for the abandoned pool site. Seeking help, they contacted the Urban Design Build Studio at Carnegie Mellon.  In the fall of 2010, the two groups started working together on ideas and framework for a project with a design process focused on community. The ultimate request was for a lower maintenance, interactive design to be used day and night, 365 days a year, using LED lighting.
 
The result is a self-sustaining spray pool with LED lighting known as the Puriflume Splash Pad Play Space--otherwise known as EcoBeastie.
 
“Because pool infrastructure is difficult to maintain, the city of Pittsburgh and other post industrial municipalities have been looking to alternative recreational facilities that offer relief from heat but don’t require substantial resources to maintain,” says John Folan, director of UDBS.
 
After various community and stakeholder meetings,  it became clear that a spray park was the most viable option for the Leslie Park Pool. Proposals for the space focused on passive closed-loop water treatment systems.
 
What they came up with--EcoBeastie--is capable of many things, thanks to the help from 11 CMU students who were selected to work on the project under Folan’s direction. Final plans incorporated everything from a water harvesting system and slow sand filtration beds to ultra-violet sterilization so that all water from the spray park can be captured from rainfall, treated on site, and never leave the site, says Folan. 
 
That's crucial because pollution problems are often associated with structures that have excess water, over-flowing sewers and contaminating spaces. Not in EcoBeastie!
 
The venture was funded by multiple grants from the Ford Motor Company, the Alllegheny County Department of Economic Development, and AutoDesk, as well as private donors. 
 
The aesthetics of the 14-foot long mechanism, mounted on a trailer for mobility, are “open to the imagination of the individual,” Folan says of the inventive and grand blue and orange structure.  It is designed so onlookers can interpret the project as they see fit, encouraging creativity.
 
The unveiling of the creation took place last Thursday at Carnegie Mellon and it will be traveling to various spots around Pittsburgh.  The next chance to see it will be on August third and fourth at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
 
Writer: Emily Shields, Pop City intern
Source: John Folan, Urban Design Build Studio
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