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Name that suite! A new hotel downtown invites 'Burghers to do just that

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is opening its first boutique hotel downtown in October, Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh. But before the Steel City’s guests arrive, prospective patrons have the opportunity to name the luxurious one-bedroom spa suites. 
 
From Mon., July 21 to Wed., July 30, the virtual community will be able to submit recommendations for the suite name. The hotel will offer 13 suites. One suite will be titled the Majestic suite, the Monaco’s take on a presidential stay. The other 12 suites will be referred to with the online competition’s winning moniker.
 
The Facebook contest is open to Pennsylvania and Ohio residents. To enter, one must “like” the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh Facebook page and then post their locally-inspired name on the page’s wall with the hashtag #SoundsSoSuite.
 
Three finalists will be selected and another round of voting will run from Aug. 4 through Aug. 11.  The grand prize winner — with the most likes for his or her suggestion — will be the first to stay in the suite on the hotel’s opening night in October and be awarded dinner for two at the hotel’s restaurant.
 
Six random contestants or fans of the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh page will also have the opportunity to win a prize.
 
“Aside from the grand prize, three people who submit names will win an overnight stay with us and three people who vote on the finalists will also win overnight stays,” confirmed Rob Mallinger, Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh general manager.

This 248-room hotel will mark the 11th Monaco site for Kimpton nationally — other cities to boast a Kimpton Hotel Monaco include Philadelphia, Washington DC and San Francisco.                                       

Mallinger says the suites are double the size of a regular hotel bedroom, have flat screen TVs and luxurious bathrooms, including a deep-soaking tub. Kimpton hotels also incorporate local themes in their design. The Pittsburgh hotel’s meeting rooms are named after notable Pittsburghers and the rooms have a black and gold, with hint of turquoise or emerald, color scheme.
 
“One of the great things about Kimpton is the way hotels take on a local identity,” Mallinger says. “As a native of this great city, I could not be more proud to be opening this unique luxury hotel in my hometown.”
 
Mallinger says he is also excited about some of the hotel’s other features debuting this fall. In addition to the warm and courteous staff, Mallinger says the hotel offers complimentary daily wine, there will be a couple of bikes available for guests to cruise through downtown and an “excellent” chef driven restaurant.  The Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh will also accommodate pets, offer a 24-hour fitness center and the front desk will be equipped with everything from hair straighteners to heating pads to computer chargers, available for little or no charge through Kimpton’s signature “Forgot It? We’ve Got It” program.
 
“Generally speaking, I thinking the Kimpton is bringing something new to the city,” he says. “We want guests to experience everything we offer.”
 
The Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh will open downtown in the Reed Building at 620 William Penn Place in October. For more information and updates, please visit the hotel’s website at www.monaco-pittsburgh.com.
 
 
Source: Jacklin Rhoads of Cashman & Associates,  Rob Mallinger

The Neighborhood Flea debuts Saturday in the Strip

A new artisan marketplace is coming to the Strip District. The Neighborhood Flea will feature vintage clothes, repurposed furniture, crafts, food trucks and more at its inaugural market Sat., July 27.
 
Carrie Nardini, organizer of The Neighborhood Flea, started the I Made It Market seven years ago. She and Stephanie Sheldon, who she met through I Made It Market, were inspired by urban flea markets such as the Brooklyn Flea, and started The Cleveland Flea last year with Ohio community development organization St. Clair Superior.
 
Nardini says she and Sheldon worked together in Cleveland to bring farm fresh produce, mid-century collectibles from furniture to housewares, clothing and handmade goods to The Cleveland Flea.  
 
“[It was] a cool experience to be able to bring all of these small businesses together into one space,” she says. Nardini added that this experience helped her branch out of the homemade circuit she usually works with in Pittsburgh.
 
She says she sees a lot of potential in Pittsburgh for this kind of bazaar because of the pride the city has in its neighborhoods.
 
“The act of shopping at the flea encourages dialogue and neighborly exchanges," she says. "Meet the vintage aficionado whose plates remind you of Sunday dinner at your grandmother’s. Learn about the woodworker who forages the fallen trees of your favorite park. Sip the city’s finest coffees and eat the best mobile food [the] community has to offer.
 
The flea will start as a monthly event in the Strip, but Nardini says she hopes to see it expand to other Pittsburgh communities. The market will be hosted monthly in the parking lot across from Marty’s Market until winter.
 
Nardini says this is not the sort of dusty, overstock “flea” many associate with the word. Instead, The Neighborhood Flea is a curated arts event.
 
“The Neighborhood Flea is a vibrant, pop up urban marketplace offering an inspired shopping experience in Pittsburgh's historic Strip District,” she says.  “[It] is a celebration of the craft and time of vendors who make and curate fine collections. In bringing together top-quality vendors and discerning customers in an urban setting, a new neighborhood magically emerges.”
 
Nardini explains that visitors to Neighborhood Flea can expect a wide range of vendors specializing in vintage clothing, home goods, locally made bath and body products, handcrafted items, foods and “strong brews.”
 
Some vendors that have already signed on for July 27 kickoff include Red Pop Shop, Natrona Bottling Company, PGH Taco Truck, A-Boss Opticians (specializing in vintage frames) and Royal Establishment. Wigle Whiskey and Marty’s Market are also participating in the event.
 
Nardini describes these businesses as “hidden treasures [from] all around the city” that Neighborhood Flea is bringing together in one place.
 
The Neighborhood Flea is located at 2300 Penn Avenue in the parking lot across from Marty's Market. Pop up dates are currently set for July 27, August 24  and September 28 from 11 AM - 4 PM. For more information, follow The Neighborhood Flea on Facebook at facebook.com/neighborhoodflea.
 
Source: Carrie Nardini

Goats at work in Polish Hill

Tree Pittsburgh got a little help from a special breed of volunteers Tues., July 8 when 30 goats lent their efforts to a hillside restoration project in Polish Hill.
 
Tree Pittsburgh worked with Eco-Goats of Annapolis, Maryland to clear a hillside at West Penn Park of invasive species like knotweed and poison ivy.
 
Goats were provided by a farm in Butler County and began work at 8AM, snacking to prepare the hillside for planting 110 trees grown by Tree Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze nursery. The project was organized by Tree Pittsburgh and funded by the Alcoa Foundation and American Forests’ Global ReLeaf Partnership for Trees.
 
The goats were secured by fence in the tenth of an acre parcel procured by Tree Pittsburgh and worked until 3PM. The event served not only as a restoration project but eco-workshop.
 
Danielle Crumrine, Tree Pittsburgh executive director, called Tuesday’s efforts a teaching opportunity and demonstration, noting that eco-groups across the country use goats for outdoor restoration and that this was an educational experience for local environmental groups. Those who attended the event were able to witness Brian Knox, supervising forester of Eco-Goats, handle the goats.
 
Tree Pittsburgh says goats are attractive in vertical clearing efforts because, “unlike human volunteers, goats can navigate the steep hillside terrain without issue or safety concern. They also eat many invasive species, including some that may be dangerous to humans. Goats are light on their feet, so the trampling from their hooves will prepare the soil for planting later in the year.”
 
The goats in Polish Hill were visible from West Penn Park and Brereton Street.
 
“Cars were pulling over all day, taking pictures,” Crumrine says. She added that children in the adjacent park came over to see the goats, several of them doing their best goat impressions with bleets and bahs.
 
Crumrine says they will be working at the site for about a year and half and noted that in addition to their lot, the entire hillside is fighting invasive species.
 
“You have to shade it out, you have to be diligent,” she says about the uphill battle. The 110 trees will be planted to help reduce sun exposure to the non-pioneer plants.
 
The goats produced a noticeable difference and cleared much of the invasive species Tuesday, but there is work left to be done. Had they been able to stay for 24 hours, Crumrine says, the goats may have been able to clear the small plot.
 
Crumrine says she hopes to see more goats in Tree Pittsburgh’s future.
 
“This is something that Tree Pittsburgh and other local environmental groups would like to continue,“ she says. “[But] goats aren’t free.”

Source: Tree Pittsburgh, Danielle Crumrine

Mayor announces first phases of protected bike lane program

Last week, Mayor William Peduto announced the first phases of the city’s new protected bike lane program to be built in Schenley Park, Greenfield and Downtown. More lanes will follow around the city in partnership with People for Bikes and the Green Lane Project.
 
The city’s first protected two-way lanes will be built from Schenley Plaza to Anderson Playground in Schenley Park; along Saline Street between Greenfield Avenue and Swinburne Street (Panther Hollow Trail) in Greenfield; and on Penn Avenue from 11th Street to Stanwix Avenue, Downtown.
 
These segments account for just more than one mile out of five that are being partially underwritten through $250,000 in support from the Green Lane Project. The Green Lane project chose Pittsburgh as one of six cities that will receive such support. The budget for this first phase, paid out of city capital funds, is $188,000. Bike PGH advocacy director Eric Boerer added that the Mayor has a goal of five miles of protected trail in two years. 
 
"We’re in the top 30 best cities in the country for cycling but that’s not good enough," Mayor Peduto said at a July 3 press conference in Schenley Park. "We have the ability to be a top 10 city in this country and even do better, and that is going to be the commitment our administration is going to make. We will make sure cycling is not only safe, but a viable part of our economic development strategy and a critical part of our transportation needs."
 
Boerer elaborates that this is the type of infrastructure Bike PGH has been advocating. He explains that these protected lanes physically separate cyclists from cars, which creates a multi-use framework that motivates Pittsburgh to get on their bikes.
 
“[The protected lanes create an] infrastructure that is safe for all types of users from eight to 80 years old,” he says, calling the Green Lane Project’s initiative the “next level bike infrastructure on the street.” 
 
Penn Avenue traffic Downtown will be changed to inbound-only to accommodate the protected lanes, which will be on the southern side of the street. Later phases of the Downtown protected lanes are planned to connect to the city’s existing trail systems and the Strip District. Construction on the Greenfield and Schenley Park lanes will begin first later this month and construction Downtown will follow.
 
“There’s a really big symbolic element,” Boerer says.  “[The protected lane initiative] shows that Pittsburgh is thinking differently than ever before … It’s pretty huge step forward for our city.”
 
Boerer also notes that these bike lanes help Pittsburgh keep up with the rest of the country in a national bike movement.  Other cities with protected bike lanes have seen them strengthen neighborhood and business development.
 
“Protected bike lanes have proven to be economic generators from San Francisco to Chicago, and they will be too in Downtown Pittsburgh and other neighborhoods citywide,” Mayor Peduto said. “These lanes are in keeping with the decades-long revitalization of the Cultural District and will add human-scale improvements to the Downtown streetscape as it turns into a unique residential neighborhood.”
 
Source: Eric Boerer, Office of Mayor William Peduto

NOLA's grand reopening promises to make this summer even hotter

From the summer weather, to hot jazz, to spicy sauce, NOLA on the Square’s grand reopening promises to bring the heat.
 
NOLA, Pittsburgh’s downtown destination for New Orleans, La. — NOLA — cuisine and live jazz music, announced the entertainment line-up for its reopening celebration, kicking off July 15.
 
Opening in 2011, NOLA was a Market Square staple until a fire forced it to close its doors on Feb. 24, 2014. Just less than six months later, NOLA is ready to start serving Cajun and Creole favorites again.
 
“Luckily, we were very organized about it,” says John Ajay, corporate beverage director for The Big Y Restaurant Group, general manager of Perlé and assistant general manager of NOLA, about the renovation. “We were able to move pretty quickly on this.”
 
The reopening will feature several events, including a weeklong JazzFest — a nod to New Orleans’ popular spring music festival. NOLA’s JazzFest will run from July 15 to July 19 and feature a different artist every night. The Fri., July 18 and Sat., July 19 events will host multiple performances.
 
“Friday and Saturday are sort of a jazz marathon,” says Karen Poirier, president of KeboWorks and NOLA media preview.  She explains that the Friday performances will run from 4PM to midnight and Saturday’s acts are all day from noon to midnight.
 
After JazzFest, NOLA will return to its regular live music schedule with performances Wednesday, Friday and Saturday beginning at 8PM.
 
On July 30, NOLA Chefs Andrew Hebson and Leonard Pisano will go head-to-head in a Chef vs. Chef battle of the hot sauces contest to be decided by a panel of Pittsburgh celebrity judges. The panel includes WQED’s Director of Programming and host of QED Cooks Chris Fennimore; popular food and drinks writer Hal B. Klein; and comedian and WDVE morning show personality Bill Crawford.
 
The chefs will use dueling Louisiana hot sauces Crystal and Tabasco creatively in their recipes. Patrons have the option to join in on the fun and order from the hot sauce battle menu or stick to NOLA’s traditional menu.
 
NOLA will also debut Speakeasy as part of its reopening. Dedicated to craft whiskeys and beers, Speakeasy is a companion bar to Perlé, NOLA’s upstairs neighbor, also reopening July 15.
 
Poirier calls Speakeasy “a new destination” and private event venue for NOLA. She added that “Speakeasy is the mancave complement to Perlé,” which Poirier describes as a romantic, late-night tapas lounge. Decorated in a dark, masculine style with club chairs, Speakeasy will operate Friday and Saturday nights from 8PM to 2AM.
 
In addition to the launch of Speakeasy and Perlé’s comeback, the bars will also introduce a Vintage Champagne Room — located between Speakeasy and Perlé. The Champagne Room will host upwards of 500 bottles from Dom Pérignon to Moët & Chandon to Ace of Spades.
 
While the paint is fresh and the art is new, NOLA is still the Market Square restaurant Pittsburgh knows and loves — complete with its popular open-air kitchen.
 
“We’re just really looking forward to opening back up," Ajay says, noting that both customers and neighboring businesses have shown encouragement during the renovation process. "We’ve had a lot of support over the past few months. It’s a nice little neighborhood we have in the Square.”
 
 
Source:  Karen Poirier, KeboWorks, John Ajay

PNC Financial tops off its new global headquarters Downtown

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. celebrated the topping off of its new global headquarters, The Tower at PNC Plaza, Tuesday. Officials, labor dignitaries, construction workers, PNC’s employees and project partners gathered to sign the final steel beam before it was placed atop the building structure.  

The 33-story, 800,000-square foot tower—located on the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Wood Street—will house approximately 2,200 employees upon its opening in fall 2015. The building will help accommodate PNC’s growth and support further business development in Downtown Pittsburgh. PNC says they expect 2,500 people to be hired during construction of The Tower at PNC Plaza.   

“The tower’s construction is a reflection of PNC’s commitment to Pittsburgh and a testament to our tremendous growth over the past decade,” says PNC Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Demchak. “The new headquarters will serve as a statement about the importance that we place on sustainability and innovation and on providing the best-possible environment for our employees.” 
 
With a double-skin facade and a solar chimney, the tower is anticipated to ventilate naturally at least 42 percent of the year and consume 50 percent less energy than a typical office building. The building’s floor-to-ceiling windows and narrow floor plates will allow daylight to illuminate 90 percent of all open workspaces, and a water recycling system is expected to decrease the tower’s annual water consumption by 77 percent.  PNC says they believe that the building will exceed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum certification and set the new standard for green building. 

“In 2000, the 650,000-square-foot PNC Firstside Center opened as the first U.S. LEED-certified financial services building and the largest LEED-certified building in the country,” a statement from PNC explains. “Since then, PNC has certified 225 projects to LEED standards, including more newly constructed LEED-certified buildings than any other company."
 
Source: PNC

Summer dining goes to the dogs

It’s patio season in Pittsburgh and many residents want to enjoy the weather with the entire family—including Fido.
 
Many Pittsburgh eateries allow four-legged patrons in their outdoor seating areas. Some even provide services for your dog from drinks to dessert. In fact, Double Wide Grill is hosting the second annual Lucky’s South Side Dog Festival on Sun., June 29 from 12PM to 5PM.
 
The free South Side event (open to pups and the public) will feature a dog talent show, contests (from howling to owner/pet look alike), games and pet adoption. The Double Wide Mars location will host the first annual Lucky’s Mars Area Dog Festival on Sun., July 20.
 
Here is a list of Pittsburgh’s dog-friendly dining options.
 
Big Dog Coffee
South Side
Just as the name would suggest, dogs are invited to join their humans on the patio.
 
Bistro 19
Mt. Lebanon
Dogs are permitted on sidewalk seating.
 
Bites and Brews
Shadyside
Dogs are permitted on sidewalk seating.
 
Bruster’s Real Ice Cream
Bruster’s provides free doggy sundaes to canine patrons!
 
Cappy's Café
Shadyside
Dogs are welcome to join their humans for an al fresco meal.
 
Coca Café  
Lawrenceville
Dogs are permitted on sidewalk seating.
 
Cupka’s II
South Side
Cupka’s II provides an outdoor, pet-friendly patio.
 
Del’s Restaurant
Bloomfield              
Del’s provides an outdoor, pet-friendly patio.
 
Diamond Market Bar and Grill
Downtown
Dogs are welcome to join their humans for an al fresco meal.
 
Double Wide Grill
South Side
Double Wide’s South Side location was the first business in Allegheny County to legally provide a designated dog section. Dogs are welcome to join the family for an al fresco meal on the patio at the South Side location. The dog patio is not available at Double Wide’s Mars location.

Il Pizzaiolo
Downtown and Mt. Lebanon
Dogs are welcome to join their humans for an al fresco meal.
 
Marty’s Market
The Strip
Dogs are allowed at outdoor seating and the restaurant will provide a bowl of water for your dog.
 
Mercurio's
Shadyside
Dogs are welcome to join their humans for an al fresco meal.
 
Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle Irish Pub
The Strip
Harp & Fiddle provides an outdoor, pet-friendly patio.
 
Nine on Nine
Downtown
Dogs are allowed at outdoor seating and the restaurant will provide a bowl of water for your dog.
 
Osteria
The Strip
Not only are dogs allowed to join their humans on the patio, but dog treats are available for 50 cents!
 
Redfin Blues
Washington’s Landing
Dogs are permitted on the restaurant’s side patio.
                     
S. Aiken Bar & Grille
Shadyside
S. Aiken provides an outdoor, pet-friendly patio.
 
Shady Grove
Shadyside                      
Dogs are permitted on the restaurant’s patio.
 
Silky’s Pub
Bloomfield
Dogs are permitted at outdoor seating.
 
Social
Bakery Square
Dogs are allowed at outdoor seating and the restaurant will provide a bowl of water for your dog.
 
Square Café
Regent Square
Dogs are allowed at outdoor seating and the restaurant will provide a bowl of water for your dog.  
 

Please share your favorite dog-friendly spots in the comments!
 
Source: Double Wide Grill, BringFido.com, petfriendlyrestaurants.com, dogfriendly.com

Allegheny County granted tax credits for three affordable housing projects

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority recently approved nearly $2.7 million in federal tax credits for the construction of three affordable housing projects within Allegheny County. 
 
“The need for affordable housing has grown throughout our region, even as units have disappeared,” says County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “Working cooperatively with partners throughout the County, we have been able to provide additional housing in areas that need it. These developments, though, also are thoughtful in that services and needs residents may have are taken into consideration in the planning.”
 
The three projects include the Heidelberg Apartments, Falconhurst Neighborhood Restoration and the Serenity Ridge development in Plum.
 
ACTION Housing, Inc. and the Autism Housing Development Corporation of Pittsburgh are producing The Heidelberg Apartments development as a unique rental community of 42 units in the Borough of Heidelberg. Half of the units will be reserved for people with autism spectrum.
 
The project is also won an “Innovation in Design” award for its creative approach to affordable housing solutions. Residents will receive  transportation, employment and social services opportunities. The needs of residents with autism spectrum will be met with specialized design features.
 
The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation is restoring Falconhurst in Wilkinsburg and 33 new units restricted to low-to-moderate-income tenants will result from the project. The development will include 10 one-bedroom apartments, 16 two-bedroom apartments and seven three-bedroom apartments along with a community room, computer facility, laundry room, storage areas and supportive services
 
The development of Serenity Ridge by S & A Homes will provide 62 townhouse units for seniors on a 15-acre site. Serenity Ridge will include 38 one-bedroom apartments and 24 two-bedroom apartments as well as a community room, computer facility, laundry room and tenant storage areas.
 
PHFA awarded $20.4 million in federal tax credits and $8.5 million in federal PennHOMES funding for 24 different developments in the Commonwealth. Those credits will be used to attract more than $185 million of private investments, will create 1,248 rental-housing units for low-to-moderate-income families and will result in 1,002 construction jobs and 745 non-construction jobs.
 
“We were happy to support and partner with the developers on these three projects and are thrilled that each was successful in receiving tax credits,” says Dennis Davin, Allegheny County Economic Development Director. “These projects not only advance the community’s plans, but also provide much needed affordable housing within our county.”

Source: County of Allegheny 

Local architect's home featured in Dwell magazine

The Lawrenceville home of Andrew Moss, president of mossArchitects, and Michelle Yanefski, an electrical engineer, is featured in the July/August issue of Dwell magazine.
 
Moss says he and his wife Yanefski sent Dwell images of the home some time ago. They are being featured in the magazine for their “budget driven,” “modern” home.
 
Moss and Yanefski designed the space together.

“We worked to have a modern home,” Moss says. He adds that it is a unique experience to design a house based on one’s own lifestyle. “It’s a great opportunity to design your own home.”
 
He explains that the materials used to build the home were distinct and reminiscent of Pittsburgh’s industrial past — for example, the house’s metal siding. Another noteworthy aspect of the Lawrenceville abode is how it’s sited, according to Moss. The house is not part of a series of row houses, like much of the neighborhood.
 
“It’s an honor,” Moss says about being featured in Dwell. “I also think it’s a great thing for Pittsburgh.”
 
In conjunction with Moss’s mention, Dwell is running a Pittsburgh City Guide online with tips from Moss. Butler Street businesses Cure and Who New? in Lawrenceville are on the list alongside Pittsburgh institutions such as the Andy Warhol Museum.  
 
 
Source: mossArchitects, Andrew Moss 

Forza Group plans multiple hotels and ice rinks in Marshall Township

Last week, the Regional Industrial Development Corporation sold 21.1 acres for $1.2 to the Forza Group of Carnegie.
 
The Marshall Township Brush Creek Road parcel will be developed into a Staybridge Suites by the InterContinental Hotels Group — which also owns Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Candlewood Suites. The hotel will offer business and recreational amenities from lodging to meeting space to access to an ice rink.
 
An article from the Pittsburgh Business Times states that Forza plans to build multiple hotels and potentially more than one ice rink on the property. Nicole Zimsky, the planning director and zoning officer for Marshall, confirms in the piece that there's an early stage plan for two or three hotels and an ice rink or two. Zimsky also notes that the rinks could accommodate youth hockey tournaments and has potential for other uses.
 
“This project offers additional business class amenities to the Thorn Hill Industrial Park companies,” says Tim White, RIDC vice president of development.
 
To accommodate development in the industrial park, RIDC has constructed about 3.6 acres of wetland and 1,300 linear of new stream channel over the past year. RIDC also supported Marshall Township in their construction of a recreational trail along the wetlands, providing trail-goers to view the wetlands and wildlife.
 
 
Source: RIDC, Pittsburgh Business Times 

Throwback Thursday: Penn Brewery

“The history of this brewery actually goes back [about] 150 years,” Linda Nyman, co-owner and marketing director at Penn Brewery, begins.       
 
The Northside brewery has seen many transformations since its founding in Deutschtown in 1848. Deutschtown was the neighborhood in Allegheny City named for its large population of German immigrants.
 
And where there were mid-19th century German immigrants, there was beer.
 
The block where Penn Brewery is located once hosted eight or nine breweries, with Ober Brothers and Eberhardt and Ober breweries calling the site of modern Penn Brewery home. Eberhardt and Ober were connected through marriage, according to Nyman.
 
In 1899, Eberhardt and Ober merged with about 20 other regional breweries. The group became known as the Pittsburgh Brewing Company — Iron City Beer’s predecessor. Beer production continued until 1952 (save a hiatus during prohibition), under such labels as E&O Pilsner and Dutch Club.
 
After 1952 the brewery was vacant, hosted a grocery for a short period of time and then fell into disrepair, Nyman says.
 
In 1989, Tom Pastorius brought Penn Brewery to its modern glory, though Nyman notes the brew house was not yet called by its modern moniker. The restaurant was known as Allegheny Brewery & Pub until 1994. 
 
“We were the first tied house [in Pennsylvania] …  since prohibition,” Nyman says of the building being a restaurant coupled with a brewery.
 
Today, several historic holdovers can still be found at Penn Brewery. Eberhardt and Ober opened three breweries on the site where Penn exists today, and three of the original E&O brewery buildings remain. These buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and boast many fascinating architectural features, according to www.pennbrew.com
 
The cobblestone beer garden was once an entrance way for horse drawn beer deliveries, the old administrative building disconnected from Penn Brewery hosts original architecture in its tiling and stairs, and perhaps the most notable historic feature is the “labyrinth” of stone caves and tunnels that was constructed to chill, or ‘lager,’ barrels of beer in the days before refrigeration.
 
Nyman says these “lagering caves” are built into the hillside and are not open to the public, though they hope to have a few inspected for modern use in the future. She adds that the caves were discovered during masonry renovation, complete with old, rotting beer barrels.
 
Aches and pains associated with Penn Brewery’s age most recently made news when a beehive was discovered in the beerhouse’s second floor offices.
 
When a final layer of walling came down during renovation last month, the brewery was abuzz. A five-foot beehive hosting 50,000 to 60,000 bees was uncovered. Luckily, the master beekeeper who removed the bees was only stung twice when evacuating them to a new home.
 
Penn Brewery has been a part of the community — brewing local beer for 166 years. This is reflected in their offerings.
 
Their website states: “Our varied menu pays tribute to the many European nationalities whose immigrants built Pittsburgh and its colorful cultural heritage.”
 
This post is part of a “Throwback Thursday” series highlighting Pittsburgh’s revitalized historic buildings. 

Source: Linda Nyman, Penn Brewery 
 

New bake shop in the Strip offers custom cakes and bacon cinnamon rolls

Dulcinea Bakeshop will open its doors Sat., June 14 in the Strip district. The bakery located at 2627 Penn Ave is next door to Savoy restaurant and one of several shops to recently find a home in the Strip on Penn Avenue toward Lawrenceville. 
 
“I think the Strip and Lawrenceville are just going to connect at some point,” Tabrina Avery, Dulcinea owner, says with a grin about the expanding neighborhood.
 
Avery, a Le Cordon Bleu Pittsburgh graduate, says she is excited to start a business in the Strip and is trying to support neighborhood shops. The bakery will offer La Prima coffee and Opening Night Catering’s Harry Ross and Jean Ross
have been helping Avery navigate opening a new business — she has a history of baking wedding cakes for the catering company.
 
Avery has worked as a baker for a couple of other Pittsburgh restaurants since she moved to the city in 2007. Dulcinea is her first independent venture.
 
 “I was a huge fan of Don Quixote as a kid, Dulcinea was the woman he fell in love with and it kind of always stuck with me,” Avery says about choosing a name for her shop.
 
Wedding cakes and cakes to order will be a part of Dulcinea’s menu.  Avery says she will have specials that change weekly and will focus on breakfast style baked goods for the menu. She says the bakery will offer savory quiches, danishes (including a cardamom flavor), pound cake, cake by the slice and even bacon cinnamon buns.
 
“My cinnamon buns are out of this world,” she says with a laugh. Avery adds that she likes to focus on pure flavors when baking. She says, “I like to take simple classics and elevate them.”
 
The grand opening will be from 10AM to 5PM Saturday.  Avery will feature her house dulce de leche cake for the occasion.
 
Source: Tabrina Avery

Giant Chess, Jenga and Connect Four are coming downtown this summer

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is introducing Project Pop Up: Play through its Pop Up program on Fri., June 13 in Market Square.
 
In 2012, more than 90 artists, entrepreneurs and nonprofits submitted proposals to activate downtown storefronts. Finalists were invited to “pop” into downtown for limited engagements. After the pilot year, three of the Pop Ups signed long-term leases.
 
Project Pop Up was envisioned to be replicated and its reach includes one-time events and programs to create strong public places in Downtown Pittsburgh. Previous Pop Ups have included fashion, night markets, food and nature events.
 
“As an organization we enjoy doing unique, fun things,” says Leigh White, PDP vice president of marketing and communications. “We do them to activate downtown.”
 
Project Pop Up: Play is an initiative to help relieve workday stress with a game break. On June 13 in Market Square, during lunchtime, stop by to play some cornhole, super-sized chess, life-sized Connect Four and mega Jenga.
 
“Every adult wants to play,” White says. “It doesn’t matter if you are in a suit or … work clothes.”
 
All games are free to anyone who wants to participate. The PDP is planning to pop up the games several times a week all over downtown. White calls the games “great stress relief“ and a “great way to meet people.”
 
In addition to Pop Up: Play, the PDP is also currently hosting Project Pop Up: Patio and Project Pop Up: Fashion will be back again this year on Fri., July 18 in Market Square. Last year, Pop Up: Patio was located in Strawberry Way. This year, the Patio and Play initiatives are rotating.
 
“The biggest thing for us is that we want this to be a public participation event,” says White about how Pittsburghers have the power to request where they want the games and patio in downtown.
 
The PDP wants input about where to pop up with the fun. You can suggest a location on twitter or facebook by reaching the PDP with the hashtag #PopUpPlay for the games and the hashtag #PopUpPatio for the patio — the patio is currently located at the Gateway PAT station parklet during the Three Rivers Arts Festival — you can also email the PDP with a location request at pdp@downtownpittsburgh.com.
 
Social media will also be used to announce where you can find the games next.
 
 
Source: The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Leigh White

Pittsburgh to host 25th annual meeting of the Intelligent Transportation Society

Last week, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America selected Pittsburgh as the host city for the 25th Annual ITS America Meeting and Exposition next year.
 
The Intelligent Transportation Society of America is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to advancing the research, development and deployment of Intelligent Transportation Systems to improve the nation’s surface transportation system. Founded in 1991, ITS America’s membership includes more than 450 public agencies, private sector companies and academic and research institutions.
 
Taking place June 1 - 3, 2015, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh, the event is expected to draw more than 2,000 of the nation’s top transportation and technology policymakers, innovators and engineers, investors, researchers and business leaders to Pittsburgh to address the critical role of technology in the nation’s and region’s transportation future.
 
“ITS America is thrilled to host our 25th Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa. — a city that is at the forefront of researching and developing high-tech transportation solutions,” says Scott Belcher, president and CEO of ITS America. “Pittsburgh is leading the way in advancing technologies such as smart sensors for parking, real-time traffic and transit information, advanced vehicle and robotics technologies and smart mobility applications that are revolutionizing transportation as we know it.”
 
Nashville, Tenn. and Washington, DC have both recently hosted the annual meeting and exposition.
 
Co-hosted with ITS Pennsylvania, the 2015 Annual Meeting will feature keynote speeches and panel discussions with the intelligent transportation industry’s premier thought leaders and rising stars, and provide attendees the opportunity to experience the latest transportation innovations through interactive technology demonstrations, a bustling exhibit hall, technical tours and networking events.
 
“ITS Pennsylvania is excited to have the City of Pittsburgh selected as the Annual Meeting location," says ITS Pennsylvania President Dan Corey. "With a surge of activity in recent years in university research, technology transfer and robotics, Pittsburgh is transforming itself into a center of intelligent transportation activity. There has also been a tremendous ITS focus on transportation, safety, operations and mobility issues throughout the state that we look to share with our colleagues. ITS Pennsylvania thanks ITS America for the selection and is ready to help make this meeting a success for both our organizations as well as the region.”
 
 
Source: Intelligent Transportation Society of America 

Buy a blighted lot or side yard at a discount through Allegheny County

The Allegheny County Department of Economic Development recently launched its 2014 Side Yard and Blighted Structure Program through its Vacant Property Recovery Program. The initiative provides an opportunity for individuals, businesses, nonprofits or government entities to apply for vacant and uncared for lots at a discounted price to the applicant.
 
“Over the past five years, the Vacant Property Recovery Program has played an integral part in revitalizing and redeveloping our neighborhoods by working with applicants to convey vacant, blighted properties for use as side yards, to develop affordable housing and for other uses such as parks, green space and commercial and residential property,” says Allegheny County executive Rich Fitzgerald. “We are proud that the program was recognized this year as a recipient of the 2014 Governor’s Award for Excellence and are thrilled to be able to provide the Side Yard program for a second year.”
 
Cassandra Collinge, manager of housing development for the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, says the Vacant Property Recovery Program has been around since the ‘90s but has gained popularity in the past five years.
 
Collinge explains that the Vacant Property Recovery Program is an applicant driven process to reuse the county’s blighted buildings and properties. A property is generally deemed blighted when it is tax delinquent for three years. She says the venture helps to create clean titles for the deserted plots.
 
The abandoned land may be attractive to individuals and organizations for various reasons. Collinge says people may want to absorb a side yard, or delinquent structure adjacent to their home or business, to expand their yard, create additional parking or simply have something nicer next door. 
 
Properties have also been used as the site of a new structure, park or memorial. Collinge notes that there’s a veterans’ memorial park in Heidelberg on land granted through the project.
 
Allegheny County will accept applications to acquire vacant properties in 28 of the county’s 44 municipalities at a reduced cost to the applicant through the special 2014 Side Yard and Blighted Structure Program. 
 
This program is available in Braddock Hills, Carnegie, Collier, Coraopolis, Dravosburg, Etna, Forward, Glassport, Green Tree, Harrison, Heidelberg, Liberty, McCandless, Moon, Munhall, North Fayette, North Versailles, O’Hara, Oakdale, Penn Hills, Plum, Ross, Scott, Turtle Creek, West Homestead, West Mifflin, Whitaker and Wilkins.
 
Applications must be submitted no later than Aug. 30, 2014. Up to 60 applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis; only five applications will be accepted per municipality to ensure that all municipalities and residents have an opportunity to apply. Applicants must be current on taxes, water, sewage and refuse bills on all properties owned in Allegheny County and cannot have any outstanding code violations or municipal liens on any properties.
 
“We’ve been fortunate to see this program grow over the past year with 10 municipalities joining in 2013, and another three joining since the beginning of the year," says Dennis Davin, director of economic development. "From 2012 through 2013, we received over 240 applications, accepted 135 properties and conveyed 119 parcels. In addition to eliminating visual blight, the program improves the safety of neighborhoods, returns properties to the tax rolls, eliminates maintenance costs to municipalities and encourages community reinvestment.”
 
Discounts similar to the 2014 Side Yard and Blighted Structure Program are available through the Vacant Property Recovery Program on an ongoing basis in the other 16 municipalities — where it is standard on a rolling basis to underwrite or assist in costs. These municipalities are Braddock, East Pittsburgh, Homestead, McKees Rocks, Millvale, Mount Oliver, North Braddock, Pitcairn, Rankin, Sharpsburg, Stowe, Swissvale, Tarentum, Verona, Versailles and Wilkinsburg. Funding for the program is provided through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, County general funds and applicant payments towards acquisition costs.
 
“[The project] ends up having a very positive impact on the community from a tax stand point and improving visual blight,” Collinge said.
 
For additional information, or to request an application, please contact 412-350-1090.

Source: Allegheny County, Cassandra Collinge                                                      

Try Vinyasa flow or the Grape Vine this summer in Market Square

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and Lululemon recently launched Yoga in the Square, a free yoga practice which will be held every Sunday in Market Square throughout the summer. The series kicked off Sun., June 1.
 
“Yoga in the Square is a unique, new and healthy way to experience downtown,” says Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the PDP. “We look forward to many yoga practitioners from around the city enjoying the urban oasis that is Market Square. We hope following practice, visitors will stick around and enjoy brunch and a great Bloody Mary at one of downtown’s delicious brunch venues.”
 
Each week, a different yoga instructor will lead the class geared toward yogis of all levels — from beginner to expert. Teachers from studios throughout the city will offer people the opportunity to sample a variety of yoga experiences.
 
Leigh White, PDP vice president of marketing and communications says Market Square offers myriad events, including those like Yoga in the Square that promote health. She says the yoga series is intended to get people active and downtown.

“We are really encouraging people [of all yoga levels] to come down and give it a try,” she says, calling herself a “yoga novice” who herself will be trying something new.
 
The inaugural practice was led by Wendy Foster Elliot of Salt Power Yoga last Sunday and Dezza Pastor of the Yoga Hive will teach the session this Sun., June 7.
 
The hour-long yoga session begins at 10AM and will occur every Sunday through August 24. Yoga will be dependent upon weather. Lululemon and the PDP will provide notification by 8AM on Sundays with weather cancellations listed on the event Facebook page and on the PDP social media outlets, www.facebook.com/DowntownPittsburgh and Twitter @downtownpitt.
 
White says the PDP is also excited about the program because it gives residents the opportunity to start their Sundays downtown. She adds that she hopes Yoga in the Square can become part of a Sunday morning ritual.
 
However, if you're more into cutting a rug than hitting the yoga mat, Market Square is also hosting Dancing in the Square every Friday afternoon throughout June from 5PM to 7PM
 
The PDP and the Pittsburgh Chapter of USA Dance have partnered to bring ballroom dancing to Market Square. Dancing in the Square will feature free ballroom dancing instruction, as well as performances by students and professionals from local dance studios.
 
Similar to Yoga in the Square, Dancing in the Square will rotate instructors and feature various styles of dance. In addition to traditional ballroom dances, favorite group dances such as the Electric Slide, Cha Cha Slide and the Cupid Shuffle will be taught and danced each week.
 
This Fri., June 6, instructor Chris Drum with DJ Brian Lee, will kick off the series. Performances by the Chris Drum Dance Team and USA Dance Pittsburgh Youth from the Woodland Hills High School Youth Program will follow the class.
 
“USA Dance is happy to share the excitement of dance in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. There will be dance lessons in Market Square, along with performances by Yes, You Can Dance!, Woodland Hills School Youth Program and Embrace Dance [Project] — designed for amputees with prosthetics,” says Ramona Corey, of USA Dance Pittsburgh.
 

Source: The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Leigh White

Rustbuilt and Citiparks team up to bring Squirrel Hill its first farmers market

The new Squirrel Hill Farmers’ Market debuted in the parking lot that runs from Bartlett Street to Beacon Street — directly behind the old Gulliftys — last weekend on Sun., June 1.
 
City Councilman Corey O’Connor cut the ribbon Sunday, marking the official opening of Squirrel Hill’s first farmers market and Citiparks’ first weekend farmers market.
 
The Squirrel Hill Farmers’ Market is a unique partnership between Citiparks and RustBuilt, a nonprofit working to nurture next-generation entrepreneurship and innovation in Pittsburgh and throughout the Rust Belt.
 
Nearly a thousand people wandered through, according to Alec Rieger, executive director at RustBuilt. He said vendors were almost completely sold out by noon — and the market runs from 9AM to 1PM
 
“I would say it was a really big success,” Rieger says. 
 
Featuring more than 20 vendors, Rieger says produce and food products “run the gamut.” He says the market offers high end organic food, mixed organics, prepared food, cheese, meat, baked goods, Italian ice, artisan vinegar and, he joked, no market would be complete without kettle corn.
 
“Meaningful public health and environmental arguments aside, this market is both a community development and economic development initiative, with the overarching goal of leveraging the neighborhood’s human capital, in order to create greater communal connection, cohesiveness, and commerce in Squirrel Hill and beyond,” says Rieger about the event.
 
He adds that the market fosters public health, environmental consciousness and, most importantly, community. Rieger says he hopes the market is a space where one does “not just grab your broccoli and go.” He says he wants people and families to sit and stay awhile. 
 
To create a neighborhood atmosphere, the market will begin hosting music as early as this weekend and hopes to have crafts and activities for children in the future.
 
The Squirrel Hill Farmers’ Market is also partnering with local social service agencies to provide market access to nearby homebound elderly and will accept EBT and FMNP vouchers.
 
The market will be open from 9AM to 1PM every Sunday through the end of November.
 
Source: Alec Rieger, RustBuilt

Mayor Peduto launches initiative to bolster immigration

Last week, Mayor William Peduto launched Welcoming Pittsburgh, an effort to improve quality of life and economic prosperity for immigrants and native-born residents alike.
 
Peduto announced the program Wed., May 28, with more than 100 community leaders in attendance at the Kingsley Association in Larimer. The initiative is part of Welcoming America, a national and grassroots-driven collaborative that promotes mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and U.S.-born Americans.

The ceremony included community leaders who spoke to their own immigrant stories and performances by Balafon West African Dance Ensemble and local, Latin American music group Bésame.

Through Welcoming Pittsburgh, the city will support efforts such as resettling refugees eager to build new homes in the city; working with organizations including the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Global Pittsburgh and Vibrant Pittsburgh to support efforts that keep international students in the city; reviving its Sister Cities program with the help of the World Affairs Council; and supporting job growth of all kinds, from small businesses to manufacturing to high-tech.

“Pittsburgh has long been home to generations of immigrants — it drew my family here and so many others — but there is much more we can do, especially in supporting business opportunities and innovation among all our residents, old and new. While we celebrate our immigrant past, we need to build on a welcoming future,” Peduto says.

Studies show Pittsburgh lags behind most peer cities in net immigration, yet the immigrants it does host are among the highest-educated in the nation. As of early 2013, the city had more than 1,300 Bhutanese, nearly 500 Burmese, almost 200 Iraqi and more than 260 Somali citizens who resettled in Pittsburgh. The landscape is also changing for the region’s Latinos — across the county, there are 24,000 Hispanics, most of which live in the city.

June is Immigrant Heritage Month, and speakers at the Welcoming Pittsburgh event talked about the Global Great Lakes conference coming to the city June 12, and a regional Puerto Rico outreach strategy that includes a concert by El Gran Combo on June 22. Both are free events and open to the public.

“It was our great honor to host Mayor Peduto’s kickoff of Welcoming Pittsburgh,” says CEED Executive Director Rufus Idris. “As an immigrant from Nigeria and someone who works directly with this population, I see firsthand every day the numerous contributions the immigrant community is making in Pittsburgh through innovative startups and new business ventures.”

The city is currently taking applications for those seeking to join a Welcoming Pittsburgh Advisory Council to contribute to the rollout the effort’s implementation plan and set key initiatives. Policies will be shaped with the guidance of this core team. The Council will also be tapped to lead a listening tour to engage community members every step of the way. 

Those interested in joining the Welcoming Pittsburgh Advisory Council may apply at: http://pittsburghpa.gov/personnel/jobs/pittsburgh_advisory_council.  The application will remain open until June 20.
 

Source: Office of Mayor William Peduto
 

4th Annual Community Development Summit held downtown

“In Detroit and across the country, we look to Pittsburgh for hope,” Detroit native and Local Initiatives Support Corporation Vice President, Anika Goss-Foster, remarked at the reception of Pittsburgh's 4th Annual Community Development Summit.

About 600 community leaders from Pennsylvania and surrounding states convened in the grandeur of the Omni William Penn Hotel to learn about and discuss community development this week. The two day event centered on the theme of “Reaching Across Boundaries” and aimed to break down jurisdictional, sectoral and interpersonal barriers for the betterment of the community.

The Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG) partnered with the Urban Land Institute to host the summit. PNC Bank has been the title sponsor of the summit for the past three years.

Participants were able to engage with different concepts of community development through mobile workshops, breakout sessions, keynote speakers and networking events.

For instance, one breakout session featured a panel of entrepreneurs and community planners who focused on the relationship between creativity and community development.

Janera Solomon, the Executive Director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, emphasized the importance of making culture and creativity an integral part of everyday life and taking a more thoughtful approach at utilizing creativity.

In another workshop, developers and engineers exhibited the value of integrating industrial land use into community development and addressed the challenges that accompany ventures such as zoning, physical development and feasibility issues.

Katie Hale, the Neighborhood Policy Manager of PCRG, says that the summit is about celebration and optimism. The event aims to inspire and motivate participants to make positive changes themselves.

“We want participants to leave with a tenacity to go into their communities or neighborhoods and think outside of the box and collaborate,” Hale says.

According to her, the mobile workshops mix fun with hands on experience and allow leaders to learn about their neighbors while witnessing young people making things happen in Pittsburgh.

During the event, PCRG hosted an award ceremony that recognized community leaders. The Ballfield Farm, a community farm in Perry Hilltop, was among the award recipients in the “homegrown” category. The farm has brought fresh produce to Perry Hilltop and also runs an ecology program to educate children on the process of growing food.

Joanna Deming, a member of the summit planning committee and a board member of PCRG, volunteers at Ballfield Farm with her husband.

“I submitted Ballfield Farm because I feel like it’s a little known gem on the North Side where people are working hard and benefiting from their experience in many different ways,” Deming says.

Deming says that the Community Development Summit gives Pittsburgh positive exposure.

“It’s meant to attract people from different cities and different states so one of the things it does is raise the profile of Pittsburgh,” she says.

In addition, the PCRG annually gives a Neighborhood Leader Award in memory of Bob O’Connor. This year, Reverend Tim Smith, the executive director of Center of Life, received the award for his devotion to the community of Hazelwood.

On Thursday, participants enjoyed both a breakfast and lunch keynote. During breakfast, Shelley Poticha, the director of the Natural Resources Defence Council's Urban Solutions Program, emphasized the need for environmental and community goals to converge.

"People are aware that we can actually intervene. We can make a change," Poticha says.

David Rusk, the former mayor of Albuquerque, presented the lunch keynote. He spoke of the benefits of less fragmented or “big box” states in comparison to Pennsylvania’s current “little box” make up and proposed a plan for more communal action.

Mayor Bill Peduto presented a speech before the breakfast keynote on Thursday morning and moderated a panel of experts entitled “Shaping the Cities of Tomorrow” later in the day.

Hale says that though the Community Development Summit has received gracious remarks from public officials in the past, this is the first time this caliber of public official was so actively engaged in the event.

Aggie Brose, the chair of the PCRG board, praised Mayor Peduto before his speech.

"We are very fortunate to have a leader with so much vision and optimism in our mayor," Brose says.

Mayor Peduto spoke of the importance of advancing all of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods through the revitalization of housing and business districts.

"Every community and every community group has the ability to get it done," Peduto says.

New brewery opens in Braddock

A new brewery is opening in Braddock, Wednesday. Two Carnegie Mellon grads are the brain children behind The Brew Gentlemen, opening in the former Halco Electric Supply store at 512 Braddock Ave. Matt Katase and Asa Foster created their first beer in the garage of their fraternity house and have been working toward this day ever since.

"We were both kinda unsure about pursuing careers on the tracts we were on," says Katase, originally of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. "Beer seemed like a happy medium that allowed us to wear multiple hats. So far, no two days have been the same."

Since 2010, Katase and Foster have poured all of their time and resources into creating both a brewery and a tap room to brew and sell their beer. They both changed their majors, Katase from math to operations research and entrepreneurship and Foster from art to digital media and fabrication. Katase took an independent study and worked with a mentor to build The Brew Gentlemen business plan.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, which raised $32,118, they were off to the races, building their brewery and perfecting their recipes with their own four hands.

They chose to open their brewery in Braddock because they loved the energy of the small city and could see its potential.

"Intially when we were writing the business plan and working on all of that our entrepreneurship professor made us choose three potential locations," Katase says. "Braddock was kind of an afterthought. Asa mentioned it because he had taken a class called Mapping Braddock and spent a lot of time down here and was drawn to the energy. In senior year we spent a morning walking around and after that, it had to be in Braddock."

That first beer, brewed back in 2010 is called White Sky, a wheat beer brewed with chai tea spices. They jokingly call it their "year round seasonal," because it evokes a different seasonal sense memory for everyone who tastes it. They've gone on to produce several beers with clever, regional names such as General Braddock.

In Feb. of this year they hired master brewer Brandon Capps who has chops from working as an Anheuser Busch/InBev
systems and processes engineer.

And what about the name?

"It started as kind of a joke," Katase says. "Both Asa and I were in the same frat, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and the frat motto is 'The true gentlemen.' After trying our beer one of our other friends joked and called us 'the brew gentleman.'"

Tomorrow beginning at 4PM The Brew Gentlemen are holding their grand opening, where they'll sell growlers and pints and the mac n' cheese food truck, Mac and Gold, as well as Street Foods will be on hand for grub.

Source: The Brew Gentlemen, Matt Katase.

Throwback Thursday: Dome sweet dome

Have family or friends coming to visit Pittsburgh? Don’t have the space to put them up? Recommend a stay in Pittsburgh’s “Igloo,” available on airbnb.com.
 
“Is it a spaceship? A yurt? A tent? No, it's a Yaca-Dome! And it's not just any old Yaca-Dome. It's the original Yaca-Dome! But we just call it ‘The Igloo,’” the airbnb profile for the states.
 
But, what is a Yaca-Dome?
 
According to the lodging website, the home was built in 1969 by Pittsburgh native Joseph Yacoboni, who received a US Patent in 1975 for the construction method. Yacoboni had a vision that the design would be the way of the future. 
 
This original Olivant Place dome in the Lincoln–Lemington–Belmar neighborhood was Yacoboni’s private home, according to a 2010 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The article also claims that a tree once grew in the center of the circular dome. 
 
The airbnb page explains that the house was designed to withstand earthquakes and hurricanes. “Not something we here in the 'Burgh normally have to worry about,” the listing reassures. This innovative design was featured in the January 1975 issue of Popular Science.
 
Yacoboni and his wife Carmel moved to Florida and built more Yaca-Domes. His personal website discusses his vision of utilizing the design for emergency buildings, panels on space stations, pop-up shelter for the homeless and a community of domes.
 
Yacoboni passed away in 2011 at the age of 89; and though his designs may not have made it to the moon, Pittsburgh still boasts first Yaca-Dome.
 
The igloo has had many visitors. The airbnb profile has more than a dozen positive reviews from those pleased with their stay in the three bedroom, 1,250 square foot home.  One reviewer called it “a gem.”
 
Another review praised, “We love our dome away from home.”
 
Source: airbnb.com, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, josephyacoboni.com
 

Market Square Farmers Market opens Thursday with flower bulb giveaway

The Market Square Farmers Market returns on Thurs., May 15, for its 10th season. Presented by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, the market features more than 30 vendors selling locally grown produce, plants and small batch foods.
 
To kick off the season, The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy will give away thousands of tulip and daffodil bulbs at the reopening of the market. The bulbs will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis with a limit of two-dozen bulbs — they are anticipated to run out fast, according to the PDP.
 
“We have been so pleased with the success and growth of the Farmers Market, making it one of the best attended and most diverse markets in the region,” says Jeremy Waldrup, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “The market ushers in spring for so many people, bringing excellent produce, fantastic entertainment and sunny days.”
 
In addition to vendors, the market features free, weekly entertainment, including performances from a variety of local festivals and groups such as the Pittsburgh Blues Festival and the Pittsburgh Opera. Singer-songwriter Joel Lindsey, will kick-off this performance series Thursday, with a set from 11:30AM to 1:30PM.
 
The market will occur each Thursday from 10AM to 2PM. and will run through Oct. 30. New this year, the streets surrounding Market Square will be closed to through traffic during the market, starting at 8AM each Thursday.
 
To keep up with the schedule and other details, please follow Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership @DowntownPitt or visit www.downtownpittsburgh.com/.
 
Source: the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

Pittsburgh Public Market to open shared commercial kitchen this summer

The Market Kitchen at the Pittsburgh Public Market, a shared-use commercial kitchen, is set to open this summer.  Located on the campus of the Public Market in the Strip District, The Market Kitchen will be available to both market vendors and local chefs.
 
Kelly James recently came on as the kitchen manager for The Market Kitchen and addressed a group last week at a Farm to Table lunch and learn focusing on small business development. Many attending the event were interested in learning about the shared, commercial kitchen.
 
“I come here, to this project, as a chef,” James said to the group.
 
She shared her own experience of opening and running the Sugar Café in Dormont. Though the business closed, James says she learned how to help other entrepreneurs navigate the competitive food industry and consider other business models — instead of the traditional, and costly, brick-and-mortar store.
 
“I get to help other people in small businesses avoid the pitfalls,” she says.
 
The Market Kitchen is an economical way for startups to begin their business. James says that by having a space that provides a state-of-the-art kitchen — and is up to code ­­­­— entrepreneurs have the opportunity to start small, get noticed and grow into a shop. 
 
“We’re a nonprofit, so we are here to help people start,” James says.
 
She says a yearly membership of $100 and a $17.50 hourly rate for use of the kitchen — a nominal price compared to most new business costs — will provide Market Kitchen members with the opportunity to utilize the space and have access to Public Market customers. Members can schedule to access the kitchen 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
 
This access to the Public Market is flexible. For extra costs, one could become a vendor; or, it could be as simple as providing samples to market patrons for product exposure.
 
James says she began accepting applications for the kitchen last week. Applicants must be businesses with proper food safety certifications. Fledgling and seasoned chefs are both welcome to apply, and those getting in on the ground floor will have priority, first-come, first-serve kitchen scheduling.
 
“Whether you are just starting out on the path or looking to expand and grow your food business, our goal is to provide you a service that is economically superior to building or leasing your own commercial facility. We offer a unique direct line to success with access to a retail space to sell and market your product within Pittsburgh Public Market. Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District is a perfect place to spread your wings,” the Public Market’s website states.

In addition to entrepreneurs, James says caterers, food truck owners, cart vendors, established restaurants seeking more space, bakers and personal chefs may find the kitchen attractive for its professional appliances and secured storage.
After this kitchen is completed, the market may build a second kitchen. James calls this demo-kitchen “phase two.” She says this installation will provide opportunities for cooking classes and events.
 
The Market Kitchen is expected to be open July 1, 2014, or a few weeks earlier in June. She invites those interested to follow construction progress on the Public Market’s website.

Source: Kelly James, the Pittsburgh Public Market

Creamery now offering locally made ice cream in the Public Market

Last month, Family Farms Creamery in the Pittsburgh Public Market used their local dairy products and other ingredients from the market, or the Strip District, to whip up something new — locally crafted ice cream.
 
Larry Neskey, Family Farms manager and ice cream maker, and Family Farms owner Nathan Holmes explain that their creamery is sourced by a family of local farms that process their own yogurt, cheese and milk.
 
Their ice cream is made with these ingredients and the products from a veritable Strip District scavenger hunt. Neskey says the creamery strives to “source as locally as possible.”
 
The fig balsamic flavor is made with balsamic from The Olive Tap, which sells gourmet olive oils in the Public Market. Blackberry swirl is the fruit of Clarion River Organics. Mon Aimee Chocolat in the Strip’s product is present in the chocolate ice cream and other flavors with chocolate chips and chunks. Penzeys Spices’ peppermint was used to create the peppermint chip.
 
These flavors aren’t your usual ice cream options. Even the vanilla isn’t plain.
 
Staple flavor, Landlocked Vanilla Bean, was crafted by creating a vanilla extract with Wigle Whiskey’s Landlocked spirit — the distillery’s interpretation of rum. Family Farms has also carried a whiskey peach flavor using Wigle’s product.
 
“I like to look at it like a microbrewery,” Neskey says about playing with flavors. He added that there will be certain flavors like the Landlocked Vanilla always on tap, but other experimental flavors will cycle through.
 
Speaking of beer, East End Brewing Co., also a vendor in the Public Market, can be found in the creamery’s Black Strap Stout ice cream.
 
Neskey and Holmes say they focus on using local ingredients and trying to be creative. They are currently playing with goat cheese and bleu cheese ice cream recipes and other flavors requested by customers — they took suggestions from patrons when they launched the ice cream.
 
If you aren’t into ice cream, that’s OK. The Public Market location has a dairy-free sorbet available.
 
The ice cream is currently available $6.00 a pint, or by the scoop at the Public Market and Sewickley Farmer’s Market. Neskey and Holmes say their ice cream will be available this summer at other markets where Family Farms is a vendor, Market Square Farmers Market, the market at Phipps Conservatory and Southside Farmers Market.
 
Source: Family Farms Creamery, Larry Neskey, Nathan Holmes

UPMC East to become newest site for UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

Construction began last week on a new, 20-bed UPMC Rehabilitation Institute at UPMC East in Monroeville. It will mark the first Rehabilitation Institute location in Pittsburgh’s east-northeast corridor, complementing the current east-southeast location at UPMC McKeesport and several western locations in the region. 
 
The facility will mark the ninth UPMC Rehabilitation Institute location as part of the system’s in-hospital network that provides specialized inpatient care for people needing physical, occupational and speech therapy after strokes or brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, hip and knee replacements, various surgeries and other conditions. 
 
Peter Hurh, M.D., specialist in inpatient rehabilitation and assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, will serve as the medical director of the new UPMC East location.
 
He explains that those utilizing the rehabilitation center require three or more hours of therapy daily — in addition to nursing care.
 
“Geographically speaking, this [location] fills a void,” Hurh says.
 
He added that the new location creates convenient care for residents of the region’s eastern neighborhoods like Monroeville and Plum.
 
“We are meeting a community need, in the area where our patients live,” says Mark Sevco, president of UPMC East. “It’s very exciting for us to open this in the eastern suburbs under the inpatient care of the Rehabilitation Institute. Utilizing existing space in a hospital that is very much in growth mode, just short of celebrating its second birthday, is a positive step for us.“
 
Not only is it convenient for patients, but for the friends and family visiting and assisting them.
 
“We encourage family and friends … to become involved with the care,” Hurh says.
 
UPMC East recently was accredited by the independent joint commission as a primary stroke center. Stroke patients are expected to be among those receiving care at its new Rehabilitation Institute. 
 
With UPMC East as the emergency hospital for stroke, the new rehabilitation wing will allow the center to offer medical services and therapy for stroke victims all in one place.
 
This Rehabilitation Institute will bring at least 15 new hires to the community, among them full-time nurses, therapists, care managers, liaisons and more, according to UPMC. 

Construction is considered to be relatively simple, and the renovated wing is scheduled to open July 1, 2014 on UPMC East’s sixth floor, East Wing. The primary focus of the work will entail the transformation of the waiting room, known as The Wedge, into a therapy gym. A multi-purpose room also will become the Activities for Daily Living unit. Also, patients will have private rooms.

Source: UPMC, Peter Hurh, Mark Sevco

PGH and CLE face off in the National Bike Challenge

Last year, Pittsburgh rallied 1,515 riders to pedal 738,000 miles to victory against Cleveland in the Rust Belt Battle of the Bikes, as part of the National Bike Challenge.  
 
“The National Bike Challenge is a nationwide event uniting thousands of current bicyclists,” according to nationalbikechallenge.org.  “It is a free and easy way to challenge yourself, colleagues and the greater community to ride more. Users compete on a local, state and national level. The Challenge aims to unite 50,000 riders to pedal 30 million miles from May 1, 2014 until September 30, 2014.” 
 
So, as of last week, the competition was on.
 
“This year, we’re going to register 1,750 riders, pedal 800,000 miles and keep the Rust Belt Champion Trophy on our turf,” Bike PGH’s website boasts.
 
According to Bike PGH’s profile on nationalbikechallenge.org, Pittsburgh already has more than 650 riders, clocking in at more than 13,000 miles in defense of the Rust Belt victory. 
 
In addition to riders and mileage, the page also tracks Pittsburgh’s total calories burned, dollars saved and pounds of CO2 conserved.
 
Bike PGH calls the National Bike Challenge a fun, friendly, free challenge that encourages Pittsburghers to get out and ride bikes — whether it’s for fun, to commute, stay healthy or save money and emissions. They invite more Pittsburghers to register as bikers in the competition against CLE.
 
Riders who participate in the National Bike Challenge also have the opportunity to partake in the Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe’s Pedal for Pints n’ Pop Program. For each medal you earn — personal mileage milestones are marked on the card and designated as medals — you can present your Pedal for Pints Card for a free pint of soda or suds.
 
Bike PGH advises Pittsburghers to make the competition local in the race against CLE. The site suggests riding solo, with a team, or your workplace in a match against another office.
 
The PGH vs. CLE race, along with the national campaign, will go throughout the summer and close September 30.

Locals create Indiegogo campaign to save Bloomfield sandwich shop

Mama Ros’ Sandwich Shop customers have taken to Indiegogo.com, a crowdfunding website, to help the local business known for helping others.
 
When Jonathan Tai and Jon Potter grabbed lunch at Mama Ros’ (also known as The Bloomfield Sandwich Shop), the two men ended up making new friends and leaving with a mission.
 
While eating at Mama Ros,’ Tai and Potter met the Mama and the Papa themselves, Rosalyn Dukes and her partner Mike Miller. In a video on the Indiegogo page, Tai states, “Just as in Game of Thrones, the winter has been long and hard, and now they need our help.”
 
Tai added in a phone call that the winter business was slow and the shop is in need of a boost to help with operating costs.
 
He said the restaurant has a reputation for wanting to feed everyone, even those who can’t always afford it. And, this campaign can help Dukes and Miller continue to do just that.
 
In the video, Tai introduces the shop’s famous Thanksgiving meals.
 
“We try every year, as best we can, to serve as many people as we can a free Thanksgiving dinner,” Dukes says.
 
She added that patrons are welcome to eat in the diner or they can take the traditional turkey dinner home with them. Last November, Mama Ros’ served more than 200 Thanksgiving meals — using 15, 20-pound turkeys.
 
“It’s for everybody,” Miller adds. “College kids that can’t come home. People that have families who just can’t, right now, afford to have a good turkey dinner.”
 
This spirit is what led Tai and Potter to volunteer to create the online fundraiser and lend their professional services as prizes for donating to the campaign.  
 
Tai is a magician and Potter is a paraglider. Ten $100 donors can receive a 20-minute magic performance from Tai. Potter is giving away paragliding lessons to ten $150 donors. Yes, Potter is the Pittsburgh paraglider who made news for his goal to paraglide off the Seven Wonders of the World — including Machu Picchu.
 
Tai said local response has been great so far and he noted that Pittsburgh rallied behind the restaurant after a fire a couple of years ago. He said people know the shop and have continued to support it.
 
“It’s about so much more than just food. It’s about community,” he says.
 
 
Source: Jonathan Tai, Indiegogo “Saving Mama Ros' Sandwich Shop”

Burgatory continues ravenous growth with third location in West Homestead, more to follow.

Burgatory, a hometown burger joint, opened a new location at The Waterfront on Sat., April 26 in West Homestead. This is the local chain's third full service restaurant — Burgatory also hosts a burger and shake stand in the Consol Energy Center.
 
Burgatory opened its doors in Waterworks in January 2011 and their second restaurant opened about a year and a half later in Robinson in fall 2012. Burgatory marketing director Meredith Hanley said the chain is already vying for the next location, or two.
 
“We have a couple of other locations in the works now,” she said.  “We’re definitely growing.”
 
A big part of the chain's growth has been the involvement of commercial real estate guru Herky Pollock, a vice president at CBRE.

"We are in a position to go national," Pollock told the Post-Gazette in a Nov. 2013 article. "The restaurant has legs to grow a broader distance than we dreamed."

Part of the restaurant's allure is the ability to build your own burger, picking everything from the meat to the rub to the bun. Burgatory also won the national A1 Burger Bracket for the second year in a row earlier this month.

The Burgatory website currently notes that a Murrysville joint in the Blue Spruce Shoppes is “coming soon.” Hanley said this fourth location is set to open in the fall.
 
The West Homestead site was selected like Burgatory’s other spots for being a high traffic area. Hanley noted the new eatery at 299 West Bridge St. is near a movie theater in The Waterfront open-air shopping center.
 
To celebrate The Waterfront grand opening, Burgatory partnered with another West Homestead business, Nancy B’s Bakery, to create a shake with the bake shop’s award winning chocolate chip cookies.  The special shake was available at all Burgatory locations over the weekend.
 
Source: Burgatory, Meredith Hanley

Mellon Square is reopening after a $10 million spring cleaning

More than 3,500 daffodils are emerging from planters in Mellon Square, heralding the imminent completion of a three-year, $10 million construction project to restore a historic landscape site to its original, 1950s elegance.
 
The project to rejuvenate Mellon Square in downtown was born from the efforts of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the City of Pittsburgh with funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and BNY Mellon. Heritage Landscapes lead the design team.
 
Restoration of the space has remained true to the mid-century design of its principal creators, John Ormsbee Simonds of Simonds & Simonds and James A. Mitchell of Mitchell & Ritchey. In 1955, they completed a revolutionary concept put forth by Richard King Mellon and Mayor David Lawrence.
 
The space was developed to anchor the city’s business hub and spur economic development during Pittsburgh’s post-World War II renaissance. The project also provided a memorial to Richard King Mellon’s father, Richard B. Mellon, and his uncle, Andrew Mellon.
 
Despite efforts by the city to maintain the space, “lack of resources, time, weather, use, pigeons and vandalism took their toll on Mellon Square,” and the park began to deteriorate, according to the Parks Conservancy.
 
The damage was not just cosmetic, explains Susan Rademacher, parks curator for the Parks Conservancy. By 2007, when plans to renovate the park were initiated, the original, cold war technology was beginning to fail. Corrosion corrupted the fountain, mechanical, electric and plumbing systems were broken and some terrazzo paving had deteriorated.
 
“By the end of the 20th Century, much of the original elegance had been lost,” she says. “Our overarching goal is to bring back Mellon Square as an urban oasis.”
 
New features from the restoration include the Interpretive Wall — telling the story of Mellon Square and its relationship to the Mellon family — and the construction of an elevated terrace overlooking Smithfield Street based on an original concept by Simonds and Mitchell. New lighting has also been installed for nighttime viewing and to set off plantings and architectural features.
 
“Mellon Square was created to be a refreshing oasis in the heart of the city, and throughout our restoration process we have carefully honored the legacy and intent of its visionaries,” says Parks Conservancy President and Chief Executive Officer Meg Cheever. “Visitors will see the grand Central Fountain once again animating the square with choreographed water displays pouring into its nine, 3,500-pound bronze basins, each of which has been repatinated. The signature terrazzo paving has been repaired, and people at street level will see the Cascade Fountain spilling its way through basins along Oliver and Smithfield.”
 
A $4 million permanent investment fund has been established as part of the $10 million project for long-term maintenance of the Square. This, together with an agreement with the city giving the Parks Conservancy a significant role in the ongoing management and maintenance of the space, will help to ensure that the restored Mellon Square will endure.
 
Rademacher said the park is meant to serve those living and working in downtown. She noted that the space was intended to be enjoyed two ways, looking below from a towering office or “looking up.” She said the panorama from the Square creates a view of Pittsburgh’s iconic architectural drama.

The rededication and grand reopening of Mellon Square will be Wed., May 28 and Thurs., May 29.  A cocktail reception is planned for the evening of May 28. The public celebration on May 29 will also kickoff the Thursdays at noon summer jazz series in the square.
 
Source: Pittsburgh Parks Conservatory, Susan Rademacher, Ellis Communications

Throwback Thursday: The Church Brew Works

For more than 17 years, The Church Brew Works has been a Lawrenceville watering hole that attracts Pittsburghers from near and far. It’s obvious that the building was not always a brewery — in fact, that is a part of the Brew Works’ namesake and its charm and appeal.
 
St. John the Baptist Church on Liberty Avenue was built in 1902 by twin brothers Louis and Michael Beezer with John Comes as lead architect, according to Sean Casey, The Church Brew Works owner.  Beezer, Beezer and Comes were employed to design the church, rectory, school and convent.
 
“Catholics would build [the] church first,” Casey said. “Pay [the] debt, and raise funds and build a school and convent next.”
 
He added that the rectory would be built last, St. John’s was constructed in 1923.

This team of architects were known as some of the period’s best craftsmen. They produced the church’s most loved details like the hand-painted cypress beams on the high vaulted ceiling, the intricate glass windows and the campanile.
 
St. John the Baptist survived a fire in 1915, both World Wars and the Depression. When the Diocese of Pittsburgh underwent a major reorganization in 1993, after years of declining congregations and financial constraints, the Lawrenceville church had to close its doors.
 
In 1996, The Church Brew Works revitalized the site after three years of dormancy. Casey said he was inspired to open a brewery in the space out of appreciation for its architecture and “experience having been in some legacy brewpubs in Germany that have been around for two hundred years.”
 
The legacy of St. John was considered during its transition into The Church Brew Works. Their website details the “painstaking effort” that was taken to preserve the church’s glory.
 
Mini pews were constructed from the church’s original benches for guest seating, and the excess oak from shortening the pews was used to build the bar. The original Douglas Fir floors were uncovered and restored after being hidden under plywood for decades. And, the blue apse is perhaps The Church Brew Work’s most iconic detail.  This classic altar is now the heart of the Brew Works as it houses its steel and copper tanks.

This post is part of a “Throwback Thursday” series highlighting Pittsburgh’s revitalized historic buildings.

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source:  Sean Casey, Patty Goyke, The Church Brew Works

The Penguins and the City announce a dek hockey rink in bloomfield

Mayor William Peduto announced plans last week for a new outdoor dek hockey rink in Bloomfield Park. The arena will be built in partnership with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation’s Project Power Play program.
 
Project Power Play is a three-year plan that began in 2012. The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and Highmark teamed up on a $2.1 million project to build 12 dek hockey rinks in the Pittsburgh area. The Bloomfield rink will be the fourth facility built by the Penguins and the city, following others in Banksville, Brookline and Hazelwood.

Dek hockey is essentially street hockey, played without skates or ice and often using a ball in place of a puck.
 
“Part of the reason for the Penguins Foundation is to get kids off the couch and exercising, and to value sports and competitiveness and the lessons they learn through sports,” says Penguins President David Morehouse, who played street hockey growing up in Beechview. “Physical activity and education is what we’re focused on.”
 
The project is designed to give young hockey players access to newly constructed, outdoor, multi-use athletic facilities. These structures provide safe areas to play games under the supervision of established organizations, according to the mayor’s office.
 
“We do everything we can as an organization to fulfill the needs of the community as far as helping kids see if they really want to pursue ice hockey," says Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation President David Soltesz. "That’s why we do the deks, the equipment in the schools, why we have the YMCA programs — trying to nurture our sport and trying to help these kids.”

The dek location will be adjacent to Officer Paul J. Sciullo II Memorial Field. The Sciullo family was in attendance when Mayor Peduto announced the rink.
 
“This facility will be built as a legacy to a community that has invested heavily into the sport, and it will be in the shadow of Paul Sciullo Field, recognizing a great life, a great person and a great athlete,” Peduto says. “We want to give to other kids the same opportunities that Paul had to help guide his life and follow in his footsteps.”
 
Construction is expected to start in June and be completed in October. Existing bocce courts and a playground will be moved slightly and a new parking lot will be built under the Bloomfield Bridge. The project cost is roughly $800,000.
 
A map of the site is available here.

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Office of Mayor William Peduto

Neighborhood Allies names inaugural president

Presley L. Gillespie has been hired as the first president of Neighborhood Allies, a community development organization that focuses on incorporating people-based and place-based strategies into its work.
 
Neighborhood Allies, whose predecessor organization was the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development, launched in 2013 with the purpose of including 21st century community development approaches.
 
The organization is known as an intermediary funder to help neighborhoods in distress and addresses local issues like blighted buildings and homelessness. Innovative, resident-driven development strategies have worked extremely well in other Great Lakes cities such as Detroit, Cleveland and Youngstown, and Gillespie has been at the forefront of this work for the last five years.
 
Gillespie was most recently the founding executive director of the Youngstown Community Development Corporation, the first city-wide community development corporation in Youngstown, Ohio.
 
In addition to Gillespie’s nonprofit work, he has experience in private sector banking. Prior to his work with YNDC, he had a successful 18-year banking career, primarily focused on community development lending and revitalization.
 
“Throughout my 23-year career, I have been deeply engaged in mobilizing capital and engaging residents to transform under-served neighborhoods," Gillespie says. "My experience as a community development leader in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors has led to a life-long commitment and passion to improving the quality of life of people affected by blight and disinvestment."
 
Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto was enthusiastic about the selection of Gillespie and the experience he brings to his new position.
 
“He has a proven track record of scaling up community development work and bringing millions in federal resources to local communities," Peduto says. "I am so pleased that Neighborhood Allies was able to attract a leader of his caliber to Pittsburgh to help us work collaboratively to rebuild our communities most in need.”
 
Gillespie added that he is excited to take the helm at Neighborhood Allies as its objectives go hand-in-hand with his personal and professional goals of local development. “First and foremost, I deeply believe in their mission,” he says.
 
In addition to his enthusiasm for the organization, Gillespie says he has “long admired Pittsburgh” as a post-industrial city that continues to flourish.
 
“Pittsburgh is a great city,” he says. “With a strong urban core and diverse and historic neighborhoods, it is poised for significant, continued growth.”
 
While Gillespie has plans to re-imagine, re-invent and re-tool the system with new cross-sector, strategic partnerships meant to foster the transformation of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods, he says he knows that the beginning of his term will be met with a lot of listening and learning.
 
Gillespie will begin his term as president mid-May. With his wife Nora and two children, he will be relocating to Pittsburgh this spring. He said the family is excited to call Pittsburgh home and take advantage of what the city has to offer.
 
“I look forward to visiting its world-class theaters, botanical gardens, green trails and sports venues,” he says. “The quality of life amenities in Pittsburgh are second to none.”

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Neighborhood Allies, Presley L. Gillespie

Pittsburgh is one of the best cities in the world for property investment

Pittsburgh was rated the fifth best city in the world for long-term real estate investment in a report last week by Grosvenor Research. The 300-year-old, London based development firm rates cities based on resiliency and sustainable growth opportunities.
 
The Grosvenor “Resilient Cities” report named Pittsburgh the fifth most resilient city in the world — following Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Chicago.  The report studies the stability and prosperity of cities in guiding long-term property investment. Cities are ranked on climate, environment, resources, infrastructure and community affairs.

“The rest of the world is responding to the great things happening in Pittsburgh and my administration's promotion of sustainable growth policies to make our city a global leader,” said Mayor William Peduto. “Sustainable development projects we are investing in across the city will cement this reputation for decades.”

A press release from the mayor’s office stated that the study underscores why Pittsburgh is a good bet for real estate, particularly given its growth, good governance and the actions the Peduto administration is taking to mitigate climate risks and invest in infrastructure.

In a statement from the international firm, Grosvenor’s Group Research Director Dr. Richard Barkham said, “This research provides us with a powerful tool to use when looking at the risks and opportunities of long-term real estate investment in cities around the world.”
 
Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Office of Mayor William Peduto

Carnegie Mellon architecture professor and students recognized for Garfield cityLAB efforts

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture recognized cityLABUrban Design Build Studio and Carnegie Mellon University architecture professor John Folan with the 2014 ACSA Collaborative Practice Award for cityLAB's 6% Place project in Garfield.
 
CityLAB is a small nonprofit that produces local economic development projects, its website describes “6 percent” as the magic number for a tipping point.  
 
“If a neighborhood can get that many creative workers, it becomes an attraction in its own right,” the site states. “CityLAB has been testing out this hypothesis in Garfield, an overlooked neighborhood in Pittsburgh’s East End, since 2011. Our goal is to fill in the neighborhood’s vacancies with creative workers who will be good neighbors, invest in the community and help the neighborhood grow sustainably.”
 
Sara Blumenstein, cityLAB program manager, explains that the initial idea to draw creative neighbors stemmed from  data that showed that after creative types move into a region, development follows. She said the initiative had multiple goals: to improve the community and to put Garfield on the map for prospective residents.
 
During the fall of 2011, Folan’s students worked with Garfield community members to come up with proposals for 16 ideas for Garfield cityLAB, detailed in the 6% Place book.
 
“[It was an] opportunity to get experience that they wouldn’t get in school,” Blumenstein says about Folan’s CMU architecture students. She explains that students worked with neighbors while applying classroom skills to budget costs and develop plans.
 
Two projects have taken flight from the 16 fledgling ideas: the Tiny Houses project and the Garfield Night Market.
 
The Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation’s Garfield Night Market is returning Friday May 2, with assistance from cityLAB. Blumenstein says visitors to the market can expect a street fair setting with paper lanterns, food and crafts. She notes that the market does more than draw families and patrons to Garfield for a good time — it is also a business incubator. 
 
Garfield community members who have the goal of running a small business can get the training and skills they need by starting at the Garfield market. About a dozen of the market’s current vendors are Garfield residents, but Blumenstein says it is a goal to eventually have Garfield entrepreneurs host at least half of the market.
 
 
Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: cityLAB, Sara Blumenstein

Milkman Brewing Company to open brick-and-mortar spot in the Strip

Pittsburgh’s Milkman Brewing Company will open a brick-and-mortar location next month at 2517 Penn Avenue in the Strip District.  The brewery is an addition to the revitalized 2500 block that also hosts the newly opened Kindred Cycles full service bike shop — near the new Pittsburgh Public Market location.
 
Milkman Brewing co-owners Justin Waters, Jamie Rice and Kyle Branigan met at a home brew event in 2010 and have been brewing beer together ever since. Rice and Waters say Milkman Brewing has “bounced around,” making appearances at events and festivals, but that they are excited to have found a home in the Strip. 

Their May opening will bring a spot to fill up your growler. Patrons can choose old favorites such as the Dahntahn Brahn Ale (brown ale), Peppercorn Rye (made with a variety of peppercorns and rye grain bale) and The Mean Ass Hank (an Irish Whiskey-oaked DIPA) or try one of the new brews they are planning.

Eventually, Waters and Rice say they hope to host events at the new brewery.
 
While there is no grand opening date yet, the milkmen invite locals to stay apprised on opening news by following them on Facebook and Twitter.
 
In the mean time, Waters and Rice noted Milkman has three upcoming events: a tasting at Bocktown in Robinson on April 25, a tasting at Bocktown in Monaca on April 29 and a beer dinner at Tender in Lawrenceville on April 30.
 
 
Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Milkman Brewing Company, Justin Waters, Jamie Rice

Attack Theatre spotlights underutilized buildings at The Dirty Ball

The Attack Theatre is hosting their annual fundraiser performance event The Dirty Ball, Saturday April 12 in South Side’s Jane Street Warehouse — keeping in their tradition of using underutilized buildings for the event.
 
“Attack Theatre has a long history of going into new and interesting spaces,” said Tom Hughes, Attack Theatre marketing and special events associate, about the dance company’s ability to draw inspiration from unlikely places. He noted performances from street corners to theater stages.
                                                                                                                                 
Attack also has a record of hosting The Dirty Ball in vacant or developing spaces and showcasing the location’s potential.
 
The first Dirty Ball in 2006 was held in an underutilized 9th Street spot, the event was also held there in 2007. Today, this building is in use as the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School. And, this isn’t the only site that has been renovated post- Dirty Ball.
 
In 2008, Attack spotlighted the Pennsylvania Macaroni Warehouse, which has since become the Pitt Ohio Express. Before it was Goodwill of Southwest Pennsylvania, the 2009 Dirty Ball was hosted in the building then known as the 51st Street Business and Tech Center. The recently opened Pittsburgh Public Market — near Attack’s Strip District office — was home to the 2012 Dirty Ball when it was still an underused space.
 
Hughes explained that within a year or two of a Dirty Ball, the site becomes permanently occupied. Making it a rarity for the ball to be held in the same place twice.
 
“Every year it becomes a little more difficult,” Hughes said about the search for an up and coming locale.  “That might be bad for Attack Theatre, but it is good for Pittsburgh.”
 
Hughes joked that this search is a rewarding one and even called it a “game.”
 
“We really show the potential of every space,” Hughes said about efforts to attract attention to a venue.
 
He added that the company also draws inspiration from the changing location, incorporating different architecture into the night’s performances. Last year, he noted that a dancer was able to climb in the South Side’s Mary Street Clock Building — incorporating another level to the performance.
 
This year, Hughes noted they will be utilizing the “big, beautiful” Jane Street Warehouse to create a one-night only nightclub with installations, games, dance performances and music by TITLE TOWN Soul & Funk.
 
“We always say to expect the unexpected,” Hughes said.
 
Tickets to The Dirty Ball can be purchased online at www.attacktheatre.com/tdb14

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Tom Hughes, Attack Theatre

Food & Wine magazine spotlights Pittsburgh twice

Last week, Food & Wine magazine named Justin Severino, chef and owner at Cure in Lawrenceville, the People’s 2014 Best New Chef, Mid-Atlantic region.
 
“We're obviously thrilled,” Severino said. “It's always great to be recognized for your hard work, and it feels really good to win as a Pittsburgh chef going up against some of the big names from Philly and DC.”
 
Severino and Cure have won a myriad of honors. Severino was a 2014 James Beard Foundation award nominee for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic and he was awarded Pittsburgh Magazine Star Chef 2013. In 2012, Cure was named one of the Top 50 Best New Restaurants by Bon Appétit magazine. The restaurant was also selected as one of Pittsburgh Magazine's 25 Best Restaurants in 2012.  
 
This time, patrons were the judge. Foodies were invited to vote for their favorite chefs on Food & Wine’s website. Severino was selected by popular vote.
 
“The Pittsburgh community has been wonderful, and this win would have been impossible without them,” he said. “It's very gratifying to see Pittsburgh start to get some national recognition as a real food city. It's deserved it for a while — we couldn't do what we do at Cure, or any of the city's other great restaurants, without a strong community of sophisticated diners.”
 
Food & Wine also recently recognized Café Phipps at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens as one of the top museum resta urants in the country. Food & Wine noted the café’s green mission.The article states, “Chef Stephanie Gelberd often sources ingredients from the conservatory's edible garden.”
 
Richard Piacentini, Phipps Executive Director, said the café tries to stay as “green as possible” while also “serving great food.”
 
He said the restaurant composts, does not sell bottled water, uses real or compostable silverware and serves local (sometimes fresh from the garden) and organic food. The Café Phipps is a three star green certified restaurant — one of two certified green restaurants in Pittsburgh, according to Piacentini.  

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Justin Severino, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership celebrates 20 years by planning for the future

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership hosted their 20th Anniversary Annual Meeting April 1, touting the development of Downtown and their ongoing neighborhood projects.
 
Governor Tom Corbett provided opening remarks at the event, held downtown at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, about the investments the state has made in Downtown and how these ventures have positioned Downtown Pittsburgh to be a competitive central business district.
 
“Pittsburgh continues to see renaissances; evolving, growing and becoming a model for other cities,” Corbett said.  
 
Mayor William Peduto provided the keynote presentation, speaking about his vision for the future of Downtown Pittsburgh. His remarks focused on several areas: the revitalization of the Smithfield Street Corridor, his commitment to attract 20,000 new residents to Pittsburgh and the importance of a multi-modal transit system serving the city. The mayor announced plans to create the city’s first protected bike lane later this year and news of Bike Share coming soon to Downtown.
 
In celebration of the PDP’s 20th anniversary, a weeklong series of events are being planned for the week of July 15 through July 21. This celebration will include special editions of some of the PDP’s most popular summer activities, like Christmas in July at the Market Square Farmers Market. There will also be outdoor activities including a member’s day at PNC Park, a Project Pop Up Fashion Market highlighting the local retail scene and a partnership with national fitness-wear retailer Lululemon Athletica offering free outdoor yoga classes for 13 weeks in Market Square on Sundays throughout the summer. The PDP will also produce a series of public film screenings in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Filmmakers.
 
The annual report also highlighted many PDP programs and services. The PDP Clean Team provided 32,816 labor hours, including the removal of 1.291 million pounds of trash and 3,080 instances of graffiti; the PDP Street Team addressed 320 panhandling incidents, nearly doubling the number of homeless outreach contacts over the previous year with 1,286 occurrences; and, the PDP Volunteer Program welcomed 1,842 volunteers who performed 6,005 volunteer hours.  

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership
 

Throwback Thursday: Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

Though its Northside campus has since expanded, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s original building has a storied past. 
 
When the museum opened in 1983, it was located in the lower level of the historic Allegheny Post Office Building, constructed in 1897. The Children’s Museum shared the building with the organization that saved the site from demolition, the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, according to the museum’s deputy director Chris Siefert.
 
“The area has a lot of history because it used to be the center of Allegheny City,” Siefert said. Allegheny was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1907.
 
Siefert explained that young preservationists, who later created the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, saved the Allegheny Post Office Building in the ‘60s — after 500 Allegheny City buildings were demolished. In 1987, the conservation group expanded and deeded the building to the Children’s Museum, which has continued to grow.
 
The Post Office Building was located across the street from Buhl Planetarium, constructed in the 1930s. When the planetarium was vacated by the Carnegie Science Center in 1991, the Children’s Museum worked with the city to expand their campus and connect the two historic buildings. This expansion opened in 2004, Siefert said.
 
The 115 plus year-old building has some historic holdovers. Siefert pointed out the museum’s post office architecture, with Greek columns, dentils and a rotunda.
 
Siefert said while the building was in use as a post office, the dome was restricted — the public had to stay on its perimeter. This rotunda still has an original safe door, though today it does not function as a safe and is permanently sealed.
 
This post is the first in a “Throwback Thursday” series highlighting Pittsburgh’s revitalized historic buildings. 

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Chris Siefert, Children's Museum of Pittsburgh 

Bloomfield Saturday Market will launch next month with local product and handmade crafts

The Bloomfield Development Corporation will launch The Bloomfield Saturday market next month. The fresh event will boast local produce, handcrafted products and entertainment geared towards a regional audience.

The market, set to launch May 31, will be held every Saturday until November from 8AM to 1PM at 5050 Liberty Avenue, which is a parking lot owned by West Penn Hospital. 

"The Bloomfield Saturday Market will be a great event, while also providing residents with the opportunity to purchase good, healthy food," said BDC board chairperson Joey Vallarian. "Community health, both the health of the brick and mortar neighborhood as well as the health of its residents, is very important to the BDC, and we think the Bloomfield Saturday Market will help accomplish these goals."
 
Christina Howell, BDC program manager, called the market “eclectic and lively” with vendors who create and package their own food — teas, olive oils, baked goods — in addition to standard farmers market fare. There will also be jewelers and artists selling handmade goods.
 
The market will also feature music and dance performances, health screenings, nutrition information, cooking demonstrations and healthy recipes that can be made from the week’s featured food items. Howell noted that she is also working on a program where teens can harvest urban farms and then sell their fruits at the market.
 
Howell said she hopes to foster a community atmosphere where market-goers can sit and stay awhile. She added that the focus on health, nutrition and access to local produce aid in a healthier Bloomfield.
 
The BDC is currently accepting applications from farmers and vendors for the Saturday Market. Interested vendors should visit www.bloomfieldsaturdaymarket.org or contact Howell at christina@bloomfieldnow.com or 412-708-1277. 

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Bloomfield Development Corporation, Christina Howell
 

Mergers result in the closure of three churches

Dwindling congregants and financial concerns have led to the closure of three Catholic churches, effective April 28.
 
According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, Holy Cross Parish in East Pittsburgh will merge into Good Shepherd Parish in Braddock. At that time, the two church buildings now in use by Holy Cross Parish, Saint Helen and Saint William, will close.
 
Good Shepherd parish will retain its name and its current pastor, Father Albert Semler. Father Miroslaus Wojcicki, the current pastor of Holy Cross, will be reassigned.
 
Only six months after Bishop David Zubik assessed the need for a Catholic Parish in Monongahela, he announced that there will be one parish with one church building on Main Street. This merger will result in the permanent closure of Saint Anthony Church.
 
In 2012, the Holy Cross Parish had one baptism and 19 funerals, and that trend was unlikely to reverse according to the Diocese. The general population of the territories of Holy Cross and Good Shepherd has declined 21 percent since the 2000 census.
 
The merged parish will have 1,744 registered parishioners. Holy Cross currently has 346 registered members and Good Shepherd has 1,398. The Diocese of Pittsburgh currently has one parish priest for every 2,800 parishioners, which was one of several reasons for the merger.

With a total of three new closures, Pittsburgh is no stranger to vacant church buildings. According to the Diocese's website, more than 130 church properties have been sold since 2003. 

Some of these sites, with approval from the Diocese, have gone on to be transformed into residential properties, breweries and more.

"Different buildings have different feels and configurations and some may lend to  dining venues, some may lend themselves to art galleries, some may be good for a banquet facility, some may work for music studios and some may work for housing," said Sean Casey, owner of The Church Brew Works, a repurposed church on Penn Avenue. Casey also  purchased St. Kieran's in Lawrenceville last year, which will be converted into residential property. 

A closed church building remains the property of the parish and it is up to the parish to determine the fate of the building, explained John Flaherty, Secretary for Parish Life at the Diocese of Pittsburgh. 

"They can mothball the building against some future use, demolish the building, lease it, sell it or re-use it for some other parish need," he said. "The Diocesan bishop would have to approve any lease, sale or demolition of the former church building."
 
Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, Sean Casey, John Flaherty

Wins Day highlights successful business attraction

The Pittsburgh Re gional Alliance hosted Wins Day on Wednesday, presenting a performance scorecard capturing 302 economic development deals during 2013 — a 12 percent increase in activity over the previous year.
 
This was the PRA’s, an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community, seventh Wins Day. The group describes their economic record of Pittsburgh as a “great American comeback story.” The event highlights what makes Pittsburgh an attractive place for business and expansion.
 
Growth was presented across five key sectors: manufacturing, information and communications technology, financial and business services, natural resources and healthcare and life sciences.Though the lines dividing various sectors are sometimes blurred.
 
“A lot of these sectors are intersecting together, that’s really the strength of Pittsburgh,” said Dewitt Peart, PRA president.
 
Manufacturing boasted the most “wins” at 65, which is a rise from the previous year’s scorecard of 59.
 
“Yes, manufacturing is growing,” announced Peart at the downtown event. Elaborating in a Wins Day press release, “The Pittsburgh region still makes things: specialty metals, medical devices, robots and turbines — to name a few. We’re a manufacturer to the world, capitalizing on technology to make processes precise, sophisticated and efficient.”
 
Pittsburgh has historically been a manufacturing hub, but has recently become known for its growth in technology, an emphasis on which crossed all sectors.

“Tech is ubiquitous,” said Wins Day speaker Audrey Russo, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council.
 
Peart said there are more than 20,000 current job openings in the Pittsburgh region — and more than half of these openings require technology skills and experience. These jobs are not just with tech agencies, but across several industries.
 
This movement was represented with the Wins Day speakers from “winning” area companies whose businesses spanned various disciplines. Development leaders John Thornton (CEO of Astrobotic Technology, Inc.), Jarrod Siket (senior vice president and general manager of marketing at Netronome), Tony Dodds (Ness Technologies vice president finance and controller) and Patrick Colletti (president of Net Health) spoke about the evolution of their organizations.
 
These testimonials gave insight to the ideas and products coming out of Pittsburgh from medical software to communications technology to the moon — Astrobotic is in a race to the moon with the Google Lunar X Prize.
 
Companies like the ones featured at Wins Day may have international reach —Astrobotic is working with multiple other countries and Ness is an Israeli-headquartered global corporation — but homegrown talent was a theme all speakers addressed, describing the rich pool of candidates graduating from Pittsburgh universities.
 
Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Audrey Russo, Dewitt Peart, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance

New branch of Three Rivers Heritage Trail to connect three municipalities

The Pittsburgh City Council recently approved plans for a mile-long river trail connecting three municipalities. The plan is a result of collaboration between the Aspinwall Riverfront Park, Friends of the Riverfront and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.
 
The one-mile leg will run along the river from Aspinwall through the PWSA property, then it will cross UPMC’s Lighthouse Pointe retirement community and continue through O’Hara’s Chapel Harbor development. 
 
 “A mile is a good win for the public and for the Three Rivers Heritage Trail,” said Thomas Baxter, executive director of Friends of the Riverfront, about how the group has been eyeing this site since 2010.
 
Friends of the Riverfront, which has led the creation of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail throughout the region since its inception in 1991, currently boasts 25 miles of trail — with more under development.  Baxter said the organization’s main program is the development of the riverfronts for public use and access. He explained that the trail is multi-use for walkers and bikers, transportation and recreation.
 
“We are actually looking at both banks of all three rivers throughout the county,” he said.  Baxter added that the new corridor created an opportunity for “great” partnerships with Aspinwall Riverfront Park and PWSA.
 
The new corridor on PWSA property was seen as an ideal location for the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, though planning and design for the addition needed time to ensure that the integrity of the water supply would not be jeopardized by allowing limited public access. Baxter said appropriate fencing and safety precautions are being implemented so as not to impede PWSA operation.
 
Construction is expected to start sometime this summer; and, if work goes as planned, Baxter said the new corridor could be completed in two months. He welcomed Pittsburgh residents to track trail status at friendsoftheriverfront.org.

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Thomas Baxter, Aspinwall Riverfront Park

New bike shop in the Strip aims to make pedaling around PGH more accessible

Kindred Cycles, the new full service bicycle shop in the Strip District, will open next week. The closest bicycle shop to the center of Downtown Pittsburgh and three blocks from the Strip District Trail, Kindred Cycles specializes in commuter and folding bikes as well as repair and maintenance.

Owners Katharine Jordan and Aaron Stein have a mission of love and support for people using pedal power. With more than a decade of combined professional experience wrenching, they see an opportunity to include average Pittsburghers in the growing bike-riding community.

“More and more people are realizing that biking puts a smile on your face. The best trip is one that I would have used my car for,” gushes Aaron. “When you bike you see the neighborhood differently.”

Kindred Cycles hopes to grow with the riding community by promoting accessibility for new riders through programs like Positive Spin, partnering with local businesses, and eventually organizing classes and group rides.

“We want to encourage the average Pittsburgher to bike by giving everyone access to a friendly and inclusive community-driven bike shop,” Katharine summarizes.

Kindred Cycles fits like a true spoke in Pittsburgh’s continuing transportation evolution. Last month, Mayor Bill Peduto gave the opening address at the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. and announced that the PeopleForBikes Green Lane Project selected Pittsburgh to develop protected bike lanes. The Pittsburgh Bike Share Partnership will start this summer. The David L. Lawrence Convention Center will host the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place National Conference in the autumn.
 
Writer: Adam Schøtt Hovne
Sources: Katharine Jordan and Aaron Stein

Eat + Drink: Wigle's 92 Neighborhoods series, a beer dinner at the Frick and vegan food in Aspinwall

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly roundup of epic local nommz.

Wigle launching neighborhoods series
It’s a busy time for the folks at Wigle Whiskey. Later this month, their aged rye will become the first Wigle product to hit shelves in Pennsylvania’s state stores. Though Wigle may be expanding their reach, the family-owned distillery hasn’t forgotten its mission to bring whiskey to Pittsburgh.

On Friday, March 21, Wigle will host the first installment of its 92 Neighborhoods Series with an evening focused on the history, food, art and culture of East Liberty.

“We have so many great partners in East Liberty. It’s a neighborhood ripe for celebration,” says Wigle co-owner Meredith Grelli. “Our goal is to have one of these every month with a different neighborhood with the goal of celebrating each neighborhood in the city.”

Kevin Sousa will be on-hand with food from his East Liberty restaurants, Station Street Food and Union Pig & Chicken, and will talk about his approach to starting fresh businesses in East Liberty.

“I’m going to give a short presentation and then it’ll be an open discussion,” he says.

Local merchants Olive & Marlowe, which recently moved from the old Pittsburgh Public Market into a new retail space in Indigo Square, will also attend, along with a plethora of East-Liberty-related organizations.

As for the fare he’ll be serving up, Sousa is holding off on planning a menu until he has a better idea of what the weather will be like.

“If it’s chillier, it will lean more toward the barbecue end,” he says.

Tickets to the East Liberty celebration at Wigle cost $20 and are available through the distillery’s website.

Café at the Frick holding craft beer dinner
The Café at the Frick, the on-site restaurant at the Frick Art & Historical Center and one of Pittsburgh’s hidden gems, will hold a craft beer dinner on Thursday, March 20.

The Café will stage one seating, at 7PM, and pair beers from Fat Head’s in North Olmstead, Ohio with a five-course tasting menu prepared by the Frick’s Executive Chef Seth Bailey.

“We will be pairing each course with a different Fat Head’s beer selection,” Bailey says, adding that among the courses, diners can expect a shrimp crème brûlée with a sweet onion sugar.

Tickets for the dinner are $70, which includes both tax and gratuity. You can purchase them by calling 412-371-0600.

Randita’s expanding to Aspinwall
Randita’s Grill, the Saxonburg-based vegan restaurant and catering service which has become immensely popular since its humble food-truck beginnings in May of 2012, will open a second location in Aspinwall this year.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Meredith Grelli, Kevin Sousa, Seth Bailey

Green Lane Project bringing five miles of bike lanes to Pittsburgh

After getting its first real green lanes in Bloomfield last summer, Pittsburgh is one of six American cities that will receive funding and assistance toward establishing safer, dedicated bicycle lanes under the cycling advocacy group PeopleForBikesGreen Lane Project.

Over the next two years, the project will help Pittsburgh establish five miles of protected bicycle lanes on city streets.

“It means we’re one step closer to making our vision a reality,” says Bike PGH Executive Director Scott Bricker, whose organization last year launched its Better Bikeways vision for improving Pittsburgh’s cycling infrastructure. “It’s our vision to provide more safe and comfortable bikeways with 21st century design standards to Pittsburgh.”

Pittsburgh’s participation in the Green Lane Project will net the city a grant of $25,000 for bike lane improvement, which includes tools such as paint, signage, curbs, planters and landscaping. Pittsburgh will also receive $250,000 in engineering, training, outreach and support, which will help give city planners and elected officials the help they need to implement best practices.

“There are some technical things we have to figure out,” Bricker says. “It’s not just protected bikeways but other innovative design.”

The announcement comes on the heels of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto addressing the opening plenary of the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C., last week, during which he nominated Bricker for a seat on the board of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.

“Our goal is to become a top-10 bike-friendly city,” Peduto said during his address.

Other cities selected for the Green Lanes Project include Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Indianapolis and Seattle. Previous participants have included Memphis, Portland, Austin and San Francisco — all cities which Bricker has cited as aspirational models for increasing Pittsburgh’s bike-friendliness.

“Without a doubt, it’s a huge boost,” Bricker says. “Green lanes and bike share really go hand-in-hand. With the bike share we’re launching toward the end of summer, we’re going to see many more people riding bikes in Pittsburgh.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Scott Bricker

Walnut Capital bringing Homewood Suites to the Strip District

Walnut Capital has had a hard time finding the right use for the retail/restaurant space at 1400 Smallman Street in the Strip District so they’ve opted to tear it down and start over. The local developer is currently demolishing the on-site structure and will build a Homewood Suites in the space next to Lidia’s Pittsburgh.

“This is a really great new use for the space. The market could use a hotel and it’s going to complement Lidia’s,” says Walnut Capital’s Greg Perelman, adding that demolition should take about another two weeks. “We’re over the toughest part right now.”

The 150-room hotel to the Strip, right on the edge of Downtown, is a new model from Hilton, designed to cater mainly to business travelers. It will be the first Homewood Suites within the city. A second location is slated to open in Robinson this summer.

Pittsburgh-based builder PJ Dick will handle the construction, and Walnut Capital will partner with Concord Hospitality, which will manage the hotel.

“The market in Pittsburgh for limited-service hotels is pretty tight,” Perelman says. “It’s a very strong market right now. I think we’re close enough to downtown and the convention center, and it gives people an alternative.”

Once demolition is complete, Perelman says, the construction on the hotel should take about 18 months.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Greg Perelman

Eat + Drink: A barleywine festival, a writer in the kitchen, mac & cheese fallout and more

‘Hell with the Lid Off’ celebrates 10 years at Kelly’s
Kelly’s Bar and Lounge will host its 10th annual Hell with the Lid Off Barleywine Festival on Saturday, March 8, with sessions running from 1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 pm.

Hell with the Lid Off offers participants the chance to taste more than 100 different barleywines, about 35 of which will be available on draft.

“From what we understand, it’s the only festival of its kind in the country and it’s here in Pittsburgh,” says Kelly’s General Manager Deirdre Kane. “We have barleywines dating back to 2004 and some from breweries which are no longer in production. It’s some really rare stuff.”

Tickets for Hell with the Lid Off are $75 and available both at Kelly’s (located at 6012 Penn Circle South) and through Showclix.

Hal Klein: Journalist, Cook, Renaissance man
“I kind of came of age in California and I miss eating really good Mexican food,” says local food writer Hal Klein. “A lot of people think that Mexican food is really just tacos and burritos, but it goes way beyond that.”

Klein will trade his pen for an apron next week when he hosts Bar Marco’s March 10 edition of No Menu Monday. Though he’s done it twice before, Klein says he expects this go to be something of a departure from his prior outings.

“The first one was a challenge because I’d never cooked in a restaurant kitchen and I’d never cooked for that many people before. The second time, I felt like I was really in the zone and knew what I was doing. This time, I’m cooking things on a much bigger scale,” Klein says. “It’ll be a challenge, but it will be pretty cool.”

Among his offerings, the self-taught cook is planning two soups, carnitas, refried beans, pickled vegetable and stuffed poblano peppers.

“I think culinary school is a really good thing, but I think a lot of chefs will tell you that the best education that they got was working in kitchens with other chefs,” Klein says. “Be organized, take a deep breath, have good help.”

Mac & Cheese Now! Redux
Eat + Drink’s glance last week at the Pittsburgh macaroni and cheese scene caused something of a stir on the old Internet.

E-mails and tweets poured in with omitted gems, including offerings from Salt of the Earth, Winghart’s, Union Pig & Chicken, Tartine and Blowfish BBQ.

Pittsburgh mainstay Kelly’s and the upstart Independent Brewing Company nearly came to blows via Twitter over the question of mac supremacy, but cooler heads prevailed.

Sewickley Soup Crawl
The third annual Sewickley Soup Crawl will take place on Saturday, March 15 from noon to 3 p.m. in Sewickley Village. This year’s special guest will be actor Larry Thomas, best known for his portrayal of The Soup Nazi in the 1995 Seinfeld episode of the same name.

For more information, visit the Soup Crawl’s website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Deirdre Durant, Hal Klein

City, Buncher agree to explore other plans for Strip District produce terminal

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced Friday that the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Buncher Co. agreed to a six-month hold on Buncher’s plans to develop a section of the Strip District which includes the produce terminal building on Smallman Street.

Buncher’s proposal involves demolishing the western third of the building, but Peduto has met with company executives regularly since taking office in January in an effort to find an option that would see the building preserved.

“What six months does is allow us to put together a viable economic plan for the adaptive reuse of the terminal building,” Peduto says. “If we can find other options that would help to see their development occur, help to preserve the terminal building and create an adaptive reuse for it, we’re going to pursue it, and Buncher is willing to be a partner in helping us get there.”

In addition to preserving the building, the city would like to see Smallman Street completely refurbished from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, including making the stretch more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists and transforming the area into Pittsburgh’s answer to Seattle’s Pike Place Market or Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal. According to Peduto, it’s just one section of the Allegheny Green Boulevard and Allegheny Riverfront Vision, plans the city would like to implement.

The agreement, which allows the city to work with other developers in trying to find a solution which both preserves the terminal and meets Buncher’s need for access to the site of its planned $450 million Riverfront Landing project, does not usurp Buncher’s option to buy the building from the URA for $1.8 million. Any equitable solution, Peduto says, will involve access to the site through the terminal.

“Even the preservation community understands that would be a condition by which the preservation of the building could happen,” Peduto says. “Even with that, it opens up the terminal building in a way that you have different pods, and those pods could be of different uses, from housing to commercial to other options that are kind of cutting edge. With all those proposals that are out there, the critical part of the next six months is showing the financing.”


Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Bill Peduto

Local grocer bringing market to the Mexican War Streets

The space at 1327 Arch Street in the Mexican War Streets has been a corner grocery store since the building first went up in 1895. Most recently, it spent 18 years as Doug’s Market before owner Doug Nimmo closed up shop in December.

Now, another local grocer has emerged to revive the market and keep the tradition going.

Rob Collins, a Manchester resident who owns the Bryant Street Market in Highland Park, is refinishing the space and will open as the Allegheny City Market later this month.

“We’ll have a whole mix of conventional, organic, natural and gluten-free products,” Collins says. “We’ll have fresh bread delivered every day, and anything local that we sell over at Bryant Street we’ll add here, like eggs, chocolate and dairy.”
The store will also offer a small variety of prepared food, including sandwiches made on site. According to Collins, the sandwiches are among his other market’s most popular items.

War Streets residents are eager for a new local grocery, especially if it’s able to cater to the whole of the community, which has seen the wealth gap amongst its residents grow over the last 10 years.

“There’s still an extreme wealth spectrum in this neighborhood,” says Brian McGuirk, who with his wife, Caitlin, bought a home in the War Streets last year. “I think it would be good if it could serve both ends of the community. It’s exciting to see something like that come in. If we could get by supporting a local place, we’d definitely do that.”

That’s exactly what Collins intends to do.

“Like I tell everybody over at Bryant Street, we’ll have everything you need to survive except booze,” he says.

Collins is aiming to open the Allegheny City Market on March 22.


Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Rob Collins, Brian McGuirk

Eat + Drink: Beard award nominees, the local mac & cheese scene and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly look at epic local nommz.

Pittsburgh has two Beard nominees
For the fourth year in a row, Pittsburgh will have some skin in the game when the James Beard Awards are announced on March 19th.

Downtown’s Butcher and the Rye is one of 25 semifinalists for “Outstanding Bar Program,” and Justin Severino, the chef and owner of Cure in Lawrenceville, is one of 20 semifinalists for “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.”

More than 600 culinary professionals vote annually on the awards, which recognize excellence in cuisine, culinary education and culinary writing in the United States.

Previous Pittsburgh semifinalists in the “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic” category include Legume’s Trevett Hooper in 2013 and Kevin Sousa, then of Salt of the Earth, in 2012. Salt was a semifinalist in 2011 for “Best New Restaurant.”

Pittsburgh’s Best Mac & Cheese
It used to be so easy. When asked where to get the best in the ultimate comfort food, Pittsburghers could quickly respond “Kelly’s.”

While the East Liberty lounge is still very much on the list, now there’s a conversation to be had.

Meat & Potatoes
offers a mac & cheese made with chorizo and pulled pork. Its sister restaurant, Butcher and the Rye, one-ups it with a sophisticated combination of taleggio, fontina, chevre, cheddar and parmesan.

SMOKE, the popular Homestead (soon-to-be Lawrenceville) taco joint, takes a consistently delicious yet experimental position and has served up everything from a Caprese-style mac with buffalo mozzarella, grape tomatoes and basil to a version with chorizo, swiss and gorgonzola.

Newest to the scene is Independent Brewing Company, which touts East End Brewing’s Smoked Porter to go along with cheddar, gouda and fontina cheeses.

Do any of these knock Kelly’s out of the top spot? Are there any we missed? Let us know what you think.

March Dishcrawl
The next edition of Pittsburgh’s Dishcrawl will take place on Tuesday, March 25 and will feature four locations in Pittsburgh’s most famous-for-its-food neighborhood, the Strip District. February’s sold-out Dishcrawl took diners around Downtown last week, stopping at Sharp Edge Bistro, Six Penn Kitchen, La Cucina Flegrea and Perle.

Writer: Matthew Wein


Oxford looking to break ground on Hot Metal Flats this spring

The Hot Metal Street corridor, which over the last five years has seen a cadre of large buildings constructed in and around the South Side Works, — including two hotels — is getting new residential space.

Oxford Development will break ground this spring on the Hot Metal Flats, a 115-unit apartment building on the lot between the SpringHill Suites Southside Works and IBEW Local No. 5. Hot Metal Flats will offer a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 570 to 1,200 square-feet, and averaging about 700 square feet.

“Most of the units will have some kind of view of the city, the river or the South Side Slopes,” says Megan Stearman, Oxford’s marketing coordinator, adding that most units will have either balconies or Juliet balconies.

Humphreys & Partners, a Dallas-based firm, is handling the architecture while local contractor PJ Dick will do the construction. Walnut Capital will manage the property and handle leasing. Among its amenities, Hot Metal Flats will include off-street parking for tenants’ cars and bicycles, a fitness center and common areas for outdoor recreation and grilling.

“All of the access it will provide, from the trails and the riverfront to all of the South Side’s restaurants and shops, is itself a main amenity,” Stearman says.

Hot Metal Flats will be Oxford’s second project on the South Side. It completed and opened the HYATT house, just across Hot Metal Street, last year.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Megan Stearman

52nd Street Market will open Saturday

The 52nd Street Market, a joint effort of Deirdre Kane and Dora Walmsley to bring a locally sourced corner grocery store to Lawrenceville, will open its doors on Saturday.

Located at 601 52nd Street in the space which years ago housed the Bloomfield Market, the 800-square-foot store will bring fresh, organic produce and other locally produced items to Lawrenceville. Its owners hope it will become hub in the community.

“Right in the very beginning, we’re just going to be a grocer,” says Kane, who first met Walmsley while volunteering in Lawrenceville’s community gardens. “We won’t be selling made-to-order sandwiches or coffee just yet, but we’ll have some pre-packaged items.”

Kane says she hopes the market will have its coffee and on-site kitchen services functioning for customers within the next month. The market passed its health inspection on Monday and will get its first inventory tomorrow. Much of its produce will come from Saxonburg-based Frankferd Farms, but Kane and Walmsley are also using other local vendors, such as Turner Dairy Farms, Zeke’s Coffee and the North Side’s Mueller’s Hardware for dry goods such as laundry detergent and cat food. Additionally, Kane and Walmsley have reached out to Greenfield Gardens, which both say makes some of Pittsburgh’s best local pickles.

“We’re going to do a really soft opening first. Once the weather clears, we’re going to have a big party,” Kane says. “It’s sort of amazing how it’s all coming together.”

Follow the 52nd Street Market on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Deidre Kane

Eat + Drink: Independent Brewing Company, Quiet Storm's menu at Ava, Pittsburgh Beerfest

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly look at epic local nommz.

Independent Brewing Company opens today
The Independent Brewing Company, the new venture from brothers Matt and Peter Kurzweg that specializes in serving up local brews and spirits held a successful soft opening over the weekend and will open full-time today.

Don’t be mistaken, Independent doesn’t brew its own beer — but neither did its namesake. The tavern takes its name from a conglomerate of about 15 small breweries which formed in Pittsburgh in 1905. Until Prohibition, the Independent Brewing Company held the second-largest piece of western Pennsylvania’s beer market behind only the still-extant Pittsburgh Brewing Company. Independent went bust in 1933, its name, logo and trademarks all abandoned.

The Kurzwegs claimed and revived them, and Independent’s “IBC” bottle stamp lies set in a stately, old-fashioned mosaic tile backsplash above the bar, installed just last week. All beers served at the tavern will come from within a 100-mile radius of Pittsburgh.

For its opening, Independent will tap selections from Pittsburgh-based East End, Hop Farm and CoStar breweries, as well as offerings from Elk Creek in Millheim, Four Seasons in Latrobe, Sprague Farm in Venango and North Country in Slippery Rock.

“Wednesday and Thursday, we’re going to have a super-limited menu consisting mainly of bar snacks,” says Peter Kurzweg. “Monique [Ruvolo] is starting up on Friday with a full menu.”

Ruvolo, formerly the chef at Club Café, has created a menu divided into small and large bites. The appetizers include Mo’ Fries — French fries topped with feta, parsley, garlic and cumin. An initial selection of four bigger plates is highlighted by a house mac & cheese made with smoked gouda, Fontina, cheddar and East End Brewery’s Smoked Porter, sandwiches of bacon or tofu and tacos made with chicken cooked in a local stout.

The tavern’s music, Kurzweg says, will be very carefully curated to match with the beers. Independent’s first customers on Saturday were treated to a steady dose of James Brown while Four Seasons Brewing’s Get Down Brown Ale was on special.

Independent Brewing Company is at 1704 Shady Avenue in Squirrel Hill and is open Wednesday through from 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday noon to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Ava/Quiet Storm open today!
Though the sight of Justin Strong going rogue and slinging coffee outside of Ava Café & Lounge’s new Oakland location would have been pretty hilarious, it’s not going to come to that.

Ava got its green and white sticker yesterday and will open its first-floor café — a joint-venture with former Quiet Storm owner Jill MacDowell — today from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The café had been scheduled to open Monday, but the opening was pushed back two days until a health inspection could be completed.

Strong tweeted the menu yesterday.

Pittsburgh Beerfest
The Pittsburgh Beerfest, a two-night festival at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Downtown, will take place next Friday and Saturday.

The winter sibling of the Pittsburgh Summer Beerfest held at Stage AE promises a selection of at least 300 craft beers on hand. VIP and general admission tickets remain, but Connoisseur’s Level tickets are already sold out.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Peter Kurzweg, Monique Ruvolo, Justin Strong

Grist House Brewing coming to Millvale this spring

If there’s one lesson Pittsburgh has taught the world, it’s that you can turn nearly anything into a brewery.

Expanding on that concept and adding to the resurgence in Millvale, Brian Eaton and Kyle Mientkiewicz, childhood friends who grew up in Erie, are working to open Grist House Brewing. But it’s not in an old church, nor is it in a garage.

Their space, located at 10 Sherman Street in Millvale, was built as a slaughterhouse in the mid-1950s and was functional through the 1970s. The old meat hook-and-trolley system still hangs from the ceiling above the space that will be the pub, and a large room off to the side lined with insulated glass block was used for refrigeration.

“We’re trying to keep it kind of rustic and industrial,” Eaton says, adding that some of the walls in the pub and part of the bar are made from wood taken from a 100-year-old barn on Mientkiewicz’s family farm in Sarver.

Grist House’s brewing system, which is due to arrive from Wisconsin next week, will include a 15-barrel capacity and four fermenters. Once they begin brewing, Grist House won’t just fill growlers and pint glasses in its on-site brewpub, they’ll also be distributing to local restaurants and bars. Eaton and Mientkiewicz are planning three year-round flagship beers: a hoppy American red ale, a brown ale and a light session pale ale called Gristful Thinking.

“We’ll have ten taps in the pub which will carry the year-rounds, and we’ll be doing seasonals and one-offs — whatever we feel like brewing, we’ll put on tap,” Eaton says.

The pub will seat about 45 people indoors with an additional 20 to 30 seats available on an adjacent outdoor deck.
“What we’re going for is a big open concept. If you’re sitting in the pub, you’re really going to feel like you’re inside the brewery,” Eaton says.

Eaton and Mientkiewicz have been working on the building for about nine months, and it’s impressively close to done, especially considering they’ve handled all the renovations — from electrical and plumbing to gas and heating — entirely themselves. Grist House tentatively plans to open in late April or early May.

You can follow Grist House’s progress on Facebook and Twitter.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Brian Eaton, Kyle Mientkiewicz

Downtown Pittsburgh CDC 'hatching' new crowdfunding resource

It’s a debate as old as Mineo’s versus Aiello’s, North Hills versus South Hills or Penguins versus Flyers: Are you a Kickstarter person or an Indiegogo person?

Okay, so maybe it’s just not quite on par with those rivalries. But thanks to a new program launched by the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corporation you can crowd-fund your next big idea with a resource right here in Pittsburgh.

The PDCDC has launched Hatch — a civic crowd-funding program especially for creative improvement projects in and around Allegheny County.

“Initially, we’d envisioned this as a Downtown-only program, but it really doesn’t take that much to widen the geographic scope so other communities can benefit from it,” says the PDCDC Communications Director Hadley Pratt. “We’ll work with you to craft a good plan on any sort of project that can benefit the community in some way.”

Like the other crowd-funding sites, Hatch recoups a small percentage of the project’s total funding — in this case, 6 percent. But if the project is referred to Hatch through another community organization, Hatch will split its share evenly with the referring organization.

Hatch, which launched in January after nearly a year in development, is already working to help fund a handful of projects including a theater space, an off-leash dog park, a street lighting project and a lecture series.

At the same time, Pratt says she thinks the program spread the word about crowd-funding to people who might not normally use it.

“We really want to see complete, well-thought-out project proposals and we’ll work with people every step of the way to make sure they have things they can use to engage an audience,” Pratt says. “We want to see things that have a great chance of succeeding and making a difference in the area. We’re open to a lot.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Hadley Pratt

State considering changing delivery laws for small distilleries

Imagine a world in which local craft distilleries are thriving and you can buy their products online, rather than only at the distillery because the state stores still don’t carry them.

That’s crazy talk!

Where do you think you are? Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and the state’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission are vetting regulation changes which would allow permit-licensed limited distilleries to deliver their products directly to consumers.
If everything goes smoothly, you’ll be able to order that bottle of Wigle Rye or Maggie’s Farm Rum over the internet and have it delivered straight to your door.

According to PLCB spokesperson Stacy Kriedman, there are three stages left in approving the process. The first step will take place next Thursday, when the PLCB and IRRC will hold a public meeting on the regulatory changes.

“If the regulations are approved, the attorney general’s office will have 30 days to approve them. If the attorney general’s office approves, the regulations would be effective once published in the state bulletin,” Kriedman says.

All told, home delivery from permit-license limited distilleries could be a reality in Pennsylvania by late April.

“We’ve been working on this with them for a couple of years and they very readily saw the potential of cultivating local and state economies around this opportunity,” says Wigle co-owner Meredith Grelli. “We’ve built a business on selling directly to consumers, so we see this as a continuation of that, but we’re doing things that you can’t really do if you’re trying to meet volume demands for a big distributor.”

In November of last year, the state relaxed laws on limited distilleries, allowing them to self-distribute to bars and restaurants on a wholesale basis. That makes it easier for restaurants to patronize local liquor makers, but the new regulations would do even more to open up the market.

“Act 113 of 2011 created the limited distillery license and the regulations are really just an update to that, and to make sure that limited distilleries have the same privileges as limited wineries,” Kriedman says.

Craft liquor sales account for .1 percent of Pennsylvania’s alcohol market. That might not sound like much, but availability has always been a mitigating factor.

“It’s an enormous opportunity for growth for us, going from one retail location in Pittsburgh to being available to entire state,” Grelli says. “If we can go from .1 percent of this area to .1 percent of the state, that’s meaningful.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Stacy Kriedman, Meredith Grelli

Eat + Drink: Quiet Storm, Ava Lounge returning and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly look at epic local nommz.

Quiet Storm re-launching at Ava Lounge’s new space
Last year saw three East End institutions — The Quiet Storm in Garfield and Justin Strong’s Ava Lounge and Shadow Lounge in East Liberty close rather suddenly. Now, they’ve joined forces and are storming back onto the scene at Ava’s new space at 304 N. Craig Street in Oakland.

“We are slowly getting the café operation up and running,” says Strong, who added that he expects health and plumbing inspections to be completed this week. “As soon as they give us the go ahead, we’re looking at a Monday opening.”

If not?

“I may have to go rogue and start slinging coffee,” Strong jokes.

Ava’s new incarnation will be called Ava Café + Lounge. The first-floor café will bring Jill MacDowell, who owned one of Pittsburgh’s most popular vegetarian cafes in The Quiet Storm, back onto Pittsburgh’s breakfast and lunch radar.

“She’s put together a really creative café menu. It’s a new element to Ava,” Strong says, adding that the café, which will operate daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., will serve grilled sandwiches, vegetarian and vegan fare. He also spoke glowingly of a turkey panini and a shake MacDowell has concocted with oats, bananas and almond milk.

There’s still work to be done on Ava’s lounge portion, which will be located on the building’s second floor. It will include its own kitchen and an entirely different menu for the bar. Between construction, acquiring permits and transferring Ava’s liquor license to the new location, Strong anticipates the lounge could be firing on all cylinders by April or May.

You can track Ava’s progress through its website and on Twitter.

Pittsburgh Juice Company opens in Lawrenceville
The Pittsburgh Juice Company, in development for the better part of a year, opened its doors Monday at 3418 Penn Avenue in Lower Lawrenceville.

The shop offers cold-pressed juices containing fruits and veggies from kale, cucumber and berries to apples, carrots and ginger.

In addition to an array of fresh, unprocessed juices, the brother-sister ownership team of Zeb and Naomi Homison will soon offer juice subscriptions.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Justin Strong

West Elm furniture coming to Bakery Square

West Elm, a retailer of modern, high-end furniture and housewares has signed a lease and will move into Bakery Square this fall.

“They’re going to be front and center as you drive into Bakery Square,” says Greg Perelman, a spokesperson for development owner Walnut Capital. “It complements everything else we’re doing with the new rental properties and other strong retailers. It’s hip and young and we’re very happy it’s coming to Pittsburgh.”

The store will be West Elm’s first in western Pennsylvania. A Brooklyn-based subsidiary of Williams-Sonoma, West Elm will occupy 8,000 square feet on Bakery Square’s eastern side, which has been vacant since the development’s construction. Williams-Sonoma also owns housewares retailer Pottery Barn.

West Elm has been looking to expand into the Pittsburgh market for several years.

“They initially looked at the project five years ago, but then the recession hit and a lot of retailers cut back,” Perelman says. “But the economy has improved and everybody wants to be in the Shadyside-Squirrel Hill-East Liberty area. It’s the hottest place in Pittsburgh to be in.”

West Elm projects to open its doors by mid-September. Its occupation of 8,000 square feet leaves about another 10,000 feet of space Walnut Capital is still looking to fill in Bakery Square. Perelman says that Walnut is “talking to some restaurant people” about that space, but wouldn’t elaborate further.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Greg Perelman

Market Square will debut public art program next week

Don’t you just hate it when it’s that time of year between the holidays and spring and there’s nothing run going on outdoors?

Of course you do. Now, the Market Square Public Art Program is here to fill the void.

Started as a collaboration between the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the city’s office of public art, the Market Square Public Art Program is a pilot program that will place a piece of interactive installation art in Market Square during the winter months of 2014, 2015 and 2016.

“Last March we did a temporary installation for just a weekend. It snowed that weekend, it was cold, but people came out and it was a great event,” says Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership CEO Jeremy Waldrup. “This will serve as a pilot for this initiative for the next couple of years, and it will serve as a model for temporary public art around the city.”

The program’s first installation, called Congregation, will debut next Friday and run through March 16th. An interactive piece involving sound, light and video, Congregation will go on display from Dusk until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from dusk to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

“The great thing about this and the way it’s designed is that it won’t displace any other event,” Waldrup says, adding that’s an important consideration for Market Square, which is already a very heavily programmed part of Downtown. “This is specifically a night time event, so we didn’t want to push things out so much as complement them.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jeremy Waldrup

Bar Marco launching The Wine Room in March

“In the service industry, if you’re a server or an owner or a manager and you go to another restaurant, they’ll usually send out a free dish or something like that,” says Bar Marco co-owner Bobby Fry. “But if you’re a chef, they’ll cook for you.”

Making that experience more accessible is the premise behind The Wine Room — a 10-seat, no-menu dining room located in the fully-finished wine cellar at Bar Marco.

A seating in The Wine Room — which includes food and wine pairings — will be the joint work of Chef Jamilka Borges and sommelier Sarah Thomas, who have spent the last several months fine-tuning their senses of each other’s palates.

“We took a trip to Chicago where we ate the same things and drank the same wines and started training to understand each other’s descriptions,” Borges says. “She can’t taste every single thing that I’m sending, so she’s really trusting on my description of aesthetic or salty or warm.”

Beginning in March, The Wine Room will host two seatings a night, Wednesday through Saturday. The first, a 6:15 p.m. pre-dinner seating for $55, will consist of four small courses. The 8 p.m. dinner seating costs $125 and will treat diners to Borges and Thomas teaming up on between eight and 12 courses.

Because reservations for The Wine Room are pre-paid and include tax and gratuity, Fry says diners need only focus on what’s in front of them.

“It’s the whole idea of making dining a full sensory experience, walking through the dining room and meeting the people you’re going to be dining with, then getting escorted downstairs,” Fry says. “You’re going through our kitchen — our home. There isn’t this weird disconnect between you and the server or you and the chef.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Bobby Fry, Jamilka Borges

Eat + Drink: Sousa leaves Salt, meatballs rolling Downtown

Sousa leaves Salt
Kevin Sousa, Salt of the Earth’s executive chef since its launch in the fall of 2010, announced yesterday that he had stepped down and sold his stake in the restaurant in order to devote his time to other projects.

“It was something in the back of my mind when [Braddock Mayor] John Fetterman and I started to really pull together what we thought was a pretty great idea,” Sousa says, referring to his new venture, Superior Motors. “I shelved it for a while, and when the Kickstarter succeeded, it was so moving and inspirational to me that I felt it was a good time to sell my part of Salt.”

Chad Townsend, Salt’s chef de cuisine, takes over as executive chef. Melissa Horst will stay on as the restaurant's general manager.

“Chad is a great friend. As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t a more talented chef in the city,” says Sousa, who hired Townsend nearly three years ago. “Chad had just come off a stint in France and he came to Salt looking for a change. We didn’t have room for him at the time, but he didn’t care and came on as a line cook. That’s just the kind of guy he is.”

Townsend says that he has no major or immediate changes planned for the restaurant, and that he’s eager to carry on.

“It’s a chance to continue what he started,” says Townsend, adding that he’d been receiving congratulatory messages throughout the day from colleagues. “Pittsburgh is great like that. Everybody gets along. Some of the other chefs and I are planning to do something [at Salt] in the spring. We all want to succeed and we all want to have the best restaurant in our own right, but it’s a great community for us.”

Sousa says that he’ll be using his time to make sure that his other restaurants, Union Pig & Chicken (and its second-floor bar, Harvard & Highland) and Station Street Food are running well before he spends the spring and summer working full-time at Braddock Farms in preparation for opening Superior Motors.

“I know a lot about food and the process of farming, but I’m not a farmer,” he says. “To deliver what I want, I need to give it everything I have. I feel like I owe it to everybody to deliver something great in Braddock and do the things I said I was going to do.”

At long last, meatballs
Emporio: A Meatball Joint will open its doors today at 4 p.m., and you're never going to believe what's on the menu.

Actually, you probably have a pretty good idea.

The new venture from Sienna Mercato is a 120-seat  restaurant with a 20-seat bar. In addition to meatballs made from everything from beef to pork to a vegetarian option rolled from mushrooms, white beans and cauliflower, there will be 32 beers on tap, wines, cocktails, cream sodas and Italian ices.

Emporio, on the first floor of Sienna Mercato at 942 Penn Avenue in Downtown, will be open for dinner service the rest of this week and begin its lunch service next week.

Mercato's third-floor restaurant, Il Tetto, is on track to open in the spring and will include substantial rooftop seating.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Kevin Sousa, Chad Townsend

Google to expand its Pittsburgh presence in Bakery Square 2.0

Google confirmed long-running speculation on Monday when it announced that it will expand its Pittsburgh presence. According to a company-issued statement, Google has signed a lease on 66,000 square feet of additional office space across from its current Penn Avenue location in Bakery Square 2.0, the new residential and commercial development from Walnut Capital.

The California-based tech giant opened its first Pittsburgh office in 2006 and currently occupies 140,000 square feet of space in the former Nabisco factory at Bakery Square.

“Google has expressed their commitment to growth in Pittsburgh. They see Pittsburgh as a market worth expanding in, and it’s a place both they and their employees are happy to be,” says City Councilman Dan Gilman, whose District 8 includes the site of Bakery Square 2.0.

The new offices will include a skywalk across Penn Avenue, linking Google’s new offices to its existing ones. While there has been no indication of the number of jobs Google’s Pittsburgh expansion could potentially create, the addition will push Google’s Pittsburgh operations over 200,000 square feet. According to the company, Google’s local offices work on its search functions, ads, shopping and core engineering infrastructure.

“It’s clear that this corridor is becoming a high-tech industry corridor with retail there to support it,” Gilman says. “It’s going to continue to grow into Larimer and Lemington and Homewood. This is a fine location looking for any company looking to grow in Pittsburgh. What Google has consistently said is that as long as they continue to find the talent, they’re going to continue to grow in Pittsburgh.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Dan Gilman

Developer building houses, preserving history on Mt. Washington

Developer Jeff Paul has already built more than 40 homes on Mt. Washington, but his new project includes an especially historic touch.

Tentatively called the Bradley Street Redoubt, Paul’s plan to construct 26 housing units and a park includes the preservation of Pittsburgh’s last known Civil War fortification.

“The cool thing about it now is that nobody really knows it’s there. It’s private property in heavily wooded land you can’t even get to,” Paul says.

When Robert E. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia toward Pennsylvania in the summer of 1863, there was local concern he’d try to invade Pittsburgh. Working at a frenetic pace, the city constructed 19 earthen fortifications on high ground around the area. Called redoubts, Mt. Washington’s is the last standing Civil War fortification in Pittsburgh.

“The cool thing about it is that we’re going to be able to create another park for Mt. Washington and a cool space for people to live,” Paul says, adding that eventually, the park and fort will be connected to Emerald View Park through its Greenleaf Street trailhead.

“I think it’s a really interesting case study about how development and preservation can go hand-in-hand,” says Ilyssa Manspeizer, the Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation’s director of park development.

Paul says his company, Pomo Development, will work with local historians and archaeologists to preserve and refurbish the redoubt, and that the housing won’t interfere.

“We’re giving them free reign to preserve and recreate it,” he said, adding that Pomo will be happily footing the bill.

Paul has enlisted the services of architect Ed Pope, with whom he worked on Sweetbriar Village, to design the new homes, each of which will have garages and front porches to create a city-type feel.

“We’re trying to create something like Summerset at Frick here in Mt. Washington,” Paul says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Jeff Paul, Ilyssa Manspeizer

Aspinwall Riverfront Park debuts free skating rink

The first sections of Aspinwall Riverfront Park aren’t scheduled to open until later this year, but the community is still making the most of the land in the meantime.

The park’s development team and more than 150 volunteers have worked together to construct an ice rink on the former brownfield while construction on the first phases of the park is ongoing. The rink is 108 feet by 88 feet and free to the public.

“It’s going to be open as long as the weather is cold enough to accommodate us,” says park developer Susan Crookston. “If you have your own skates, you can skate beginning at 9 a.m. We’ll have food and skates available after 3:30 p.m.”

In addition to the rink, the park has a hut — staffed by Aspinwall Everyday Gourmet — offering snacks and hot cocoa during after-school hours and on weekends, and about 50 pairs of skates in both child and adult sizes which visitors can borrow for free.

Though they haven’t been able to spring for a Zamboni, park caretakers do have a device they’re using to smooth out the surface of the ice on a daily basis, and the maintenance of the rink has been something of a shared responsibility.

“The people who are using the rink help keep it clear,” Crookston says. “We bought a device to smooth the ice, but kids have had a lot of fun shoveling snow off the ice to keep it clean.

In addition to free ice skating and hot cocoa, the park’s winter facilities include a fire pit over which visitors can roast marshmallows. While visitors bringing their own skates are free to begin using the rink at 9 a.m. daily, free skate rental and snacks are available from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 12 to 7:30 p.m. on weekends.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Susan Crookston

Eat + Drink: Dishcrawl Pittsburgh, Summer Winter Warmer and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly guide to local epic nommz.

Dishcrawl takes off
Dishcrawl, the neighborhood restaurant tour which takes diners to four different neighborhood restaurants in one evening, will hold its first event of 2014 on February 19th.

There are just two catches:
1)      Diners won’t know the restaurants until 48 hours before the event.
2)      February’s incarnation is already sold out.

Dishcrawl, which takes place in about 100 cities across the United States and Canada, first game to Pittsburgh last year with stops in Lawrenceville and Shadyside. But new director Colleen Coll has her sights set on giving the event a more distinctly local flavor than it’s had in the past.

“Sometimes people don’t know a certain neighborhood, then they get to go to four restaurants in one night. It’s great to get to that experience all at once,” Coll says.

February’s edition will take participants to four different restaurants in Downtown Pittsburgh. And because it’s already sold out, Coll has started planning March’s excursion. Her destination? The Strip District.

“One of the things we like to focus on is having an area with at least 20 restaurants,” she says. “Between Downtown and the Strip, those neighborhoods are perfect. One event’s not enough for Downtown. I was surprised they weren’t picked in the first place.”

For updates, follow Dishcrawl Pittsburgh on Facebook and Twitter.

Summer Winter Warmer back on tap at Roundabout
Consider this a public service announcement: Summer Winter Warmer is back on tap at Roundabout Brewery. This brew, which starts out smelling like a floral West Coast IPA and seamlessly transitions into a rich, full-bodied English-style warmer full of roasted malts, is a delightful little journey of flavor. It’s like seeing the sun for the first time in six weeks.

Markets need friends too
The Pittsburgh Public Market would like to be your friend, and it doesn’t mean on Facebook.

Fresh off its move into the new space at 2401 Penn Avenue in the Strip, the Public Market is debuting its “Friends of the Market” program. In exchange for pledging your charitable support at one of the four levels between $25 and $250, the market is doling out perks ranging from stickers and tote bags to free use of its meeting space.

One way to join is by attending the market’s first annual tasting event this Friday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 and include samples from the markets various vendors. The price of the ticket covers your first year-long membership in the program and gets your name on the wall under the list of founding members.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Colleen Coll

Riverlife launches guide to aid Pennsylvania's riverfront development

Pittsburgh’s importance in the founding and forging of America owes a great deal to its rivers. For the last 15 years, Riverlife has worked with property owners, community groups and elected officials to restore Pittsburgh’s riverfront territories as assets which have helped to once again set the city apart.

Now, Riverlife is sharing its methodology with the world. This week, the organization released a new resources guide for river towns looking to duplicate Pittsburgh’s success in reviving waterfront property.

“We have 86,000 miles of rivers and streams in Pennsylvania. We have more river communities than most places in the world,” says Riverlife President and CEO Lisa Schroeder. “The guide compiles what we’ve learned here at Riverlife over the last 15 years as we’ve worked on projects on and adjacent to the river.”

Schroeder added that in creating the guide, which took about a year, Riverlife tried to make its lessons and processes applicable to communities of all sizes, and thinks it will be of particular help to river towns in and around the Rust Belt.

The guide is divided into four sections. The “Natural” section encompasses information about ecological conservation. The “Connections” section details best practices for maximizing public access to riverfront developments. “Built” covers elements of design, materials, stormwater management and river-adjacent structures, and “Character” touches on everything from landscape architecture and invasive species management to integrating public art projects.

“Whether a community hopes to build a park or a stormwater garden, we hope this gives them the sense not only that they can do it, but of how to go about it,” she says. “We’re very pleased we’ve been able to layer in years of experience from accomplished professionals.”

The Benedum Foundation financed the creation of the guide and has helped to make it widely accessible. Complimentary hard copies are available through Riverlife, and a digital, print-friendly version is posted on the organization’s website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Lisa Schroeder

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

Three young artists establishing Garfield gallery, residency space

If you’re already chomping at the bit to get out of your house and partake in a warm-weather activity —say, a gallery crawl — you’ve got something new to look forward to once the ice melts.

Three intrepid young women have started the Bunker Projects — an art residency and gallery space at 5106 Penn Avenue in Garfield, right in the heart of the Penn Avenue Arts District.

“It started with our discovering the space. When we found this building, it’d been partially destroyed by a fire a few years ago, so our first job was to restore the space, and we’ve been doing that with help from volunteers,” says Cecilia Ebitz, one of Bunker’s co-founders. “Because it was so rough, it was sort of an invitation to customize the space and have it cater to the resident artists.”

Ebitz and her collegues, Jessie Rommelt and Abigail Beddall, first met as students in Penn State’s BFA program. All three hail from State College, but didn’t know each other before coming together to study sculpture.

“We had friends who lived in Pittsburgh who’d really touted its praises. The art scene is really accessible and not oversaturated,” Ebitz says, adding that it seemed the natural location to start their project.

When the space is totally complete, it will include two bedrooms, two private studio spaces and two gallery spaces. It will host two artists at a time for three-month periods. Ebitz says they could have the renovations done by the end of January, and aim to show the space and exhibit some work during the Penn Avenue gallery crawl scheduled for February 7th.

Right now, though, they’re just trying to secure enough funding to finish renovating the building. Bunker launched a crowdfunding campaign earlier this month to help cover the remaining costs, about $10,000. They’re nearly halfway there.

“This is the first time we’ve ever taken on a project like this,” Ebitz says. “We have all of our artists scheduled for ’14, as well as a few remote residential projects. We have a bulk of the residency programming all figured out for 2014, but we also want to offer the space as a place for special projects, exhibitions and performances.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Cecilia Ebitz

Eat + Drink: Mead in Carnegie, a new bar in Squirrel Hill and dark brews at East End

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly look at epic local nommz.

Penn brewer will open meadery in Carnegie
Dave Cerminara might brew beer, but it’s mead he loves.

That’s why he’ll leave his job as assistant brewer at the North Side’s Penn Brewery later this year to open Apis Meadery at 212 E. Main Street in Carnegie.

Though its popularity has waxed and waned, humans have been making mead — a wine whose fermentable sugar is derived from honey — for at least 4,000 years.

“It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for eight or nine years now,” Cerminara says. “When you get into the world of mead, there are so many varieties. It doesn’t have to be just honey wine. It can be melomels or fruit wine — it can be lots of things. We’re trying to show people what mead really can be.”

Cerminara says that by the time he’s ready to open, he hopes to have between six and ten varieties ready to go. Among them will be standard meads for summer and winter made from clover honey, melomels (fruit wines) flavored with peaches and apricots or blackberries and raspberries, and pyments.

“Pyment is specifically grape and honey blended. For the grapes, we chose a Sangiovese, and I’ve been making that one for about nine years,” he says. “It has that robust richness, but it has the nice honey finish on the back.”

Cerminara says he hopes to open for business by early July.

New Squirrel Hill bar will specialize in local brews
Local attorney Peter Kurzweg new venture, the Independent Brewing Company, is set to take over the space at 1704 Shady Avenue in Squirrel Hill, which until late last year was occupied by Fanattics sports bar. Independent plans to offer a definitive selection of locally brewed beers. An opening date hasn’t yet been confirmed.

East End to host Festival of Darkness
Reeling from not having seen the sun in two months? East End Brewing can’t really help with that, so they’re embracing the darkness.

The brewery will host its Festival of Darkness on Saturday, February 1st. For $5 (which goes right toward East End's collection for Light of Life) you can taste 12 of East End’s darkest ales, stouts and porters. The full lineup includes everything from their year-round and seasonal brews to one-offs, such as Homewood Reserve 2013 — Black Strap Stout aged for nine months in Maker’s Mark barrels.
You can view the full lineup on the festival’s event page.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Dave Cerminara, Peter Kurzweg

Pittsburgh developer courting European light manufacturer

A Slovenian LED manufacturer looking to establish a North American hub is giving further consideration to Pittsburgh.

Officials from Washington County-based Millcraft Investments are in Slovenia this week meeting with Robert Grah, owner Grah Lighting, about establishing a major base of operations in Pittsburgh to go along with a massive LED streetlight project.

“This aligns nicely with what Mayor Peduto has been fighting for,” says Kevin Acklin, Peduto’s chief of staff. “When he became aware with what they were looking for, he traveled to Slovenia. That was followed up by a trip [Grah] took to Pittsburgh.”

The latter visit, which Grah made last November, saw him tour the Almono brownfield site in Hazelwood, warehouses in the Strip District and meet with Peduto, then mayor-elect. After those meetings, according the Acklin, Millcraft reached out to Peduto’s administration, offering to help organize investors and raise the capital Grah is looking for.

“We know [Millcraft], we’ve worked with them and they know the landscape of the development. They stepped up. That’s something the city government can’t do by itself,” says Acklin, Pittsburgh and the potential of its Almono site stand an excellent chance of bringing the business to the region.

“He liked the Midwest presence, he liked the people, and he liked the proximity to other markets,” Acklin says. “We’ve made a very strong statement that this is something we want to see happen.”

Pittsburgh is thought to be one of two finalists for the location of Grah’s new factory. Cleveland is the other.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Kevin Acklin

A ceramics studio is Lawrenceville's latest get

Dan Kuhn grew up in the Allegheny Valley, and the roots his ancestors planted here run so deep, he knew he’d wind up back in Pittsburgh one way or another.

“I came back to Lawrenceville because one side of my family started a small business in town,” Kuhn says. He’s referring to ancestor Edward Frauenheim, who founded the Pittsburgh Brewing Company in 1861.
Now after years spend in California and New York, he’s back and looking to provide Pittsburgh with a place for all things pottery.

Kuhn has rented the 3,000-square-foot space at 158 41st Street in Lawrenceville — an old mechanic’s garage from the 1930s — and is turning it into Ton Pottery, a full studio and gallery space which will aim to serve and grow Pittsburgh’s ceramics community.

Ton will offer everything from ceramics classes for kids, adults and families to services for local artists, such as open studio time, kilns, glaze mixing and to a place for local potters to showcase and sell their work.

“It’s a pretty diverse group of people, and we really want to get them exposure,” Kuhn says. “We’re also going to offer services for local potters. We want to extend professional services to people who might not have the facilities to do these things.”

Ton will start with eight potter’s wheels and eventually build up to 12. In addition to throwing, the facility will offer hand-building space and will be available to rent for parties and other social events. Ton Pottery will hold its grand opening on February 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Kuhn says classes are on schedule to begin March 1st.

“When people think pottery in Pittsburgh, I want them to say, 'I’m going to Lawrenceville! That’s where it’s all happening,'” he says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Dan Kuhn

Downtown's Night Market returns for a 7th edition

You might remember the last time the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership held a Night Market — it took place on a bridge and happened to coincide with the arrival of a particularly beloved specimen of water fowl.

Granted, Night Market VII won’t clog the Clemente Bridge, nor will it occur simultaneously with the arrival of the bird that spurred a million Facebook photos. But it will be warm, intimate and tailored to the season when it runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 131 7th Street this Friday.

“Were going to have about 20 different vendors in the space,” says the PDP’s Leigh White. “We’ve kind of curated it to include some people’s favorite vendors. It feels like each night market takes on its own special vibe.”

This incarnation of Nigh Market will be a stop on the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s first gallery crawl of 2014. Accordingly, the Toonseum is decorating the building’s front windows with comic-themed art.

In addition to vendors offering art, jewelry, crafts, food (Burgh Bites will be on hand with Cuban sandwiches) and warm drinks (including teas from Healcrest Urban Farms and coffee from Zeke's), the market will include music from local singer-songwriter Tori Plack. Oh, and there’ll be soup.

“Last year, we did it in the same space, and that’s one ofd the things we like about the night market — we can adapt it to the seasons,” White says.

For a complete list of vendors, see the event’s website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Leigh White

Councilwoman proposes creating Pittsburgh land bank

Though it might be hard to believe amid all of Pittsburgh’s recent development, the number of blighted or abandoned properties within the city is around 35,000 — about 19 percent of the city’s land. Every year, Pittsburgh spends about $20.5 million managing these properties.

Last Tuesday, District 7 Councilwoman Deb Gross introduced a bill which if passed would lay the legal groundwork for Pittsburgh to establish a land bank — a public, non-profit authority designed to streamline the process of redeveloping these tax-delinquent parcels. The land bank would be independent from the city and be run by a board of seven directors — four mayoral appointees and three city-council appointees.

“The first thing that it could do is accept property so that it would have assets. That’s why it’s important as to why it’d be independent and not a city agency,” Gross says. “If your only job is to clear title assets and sell them, you have a clean purpose and unencumbered operation.”

“I’ve talked to [the department of] city planning to try and seek out how this might happen in the next year or two, and they’ve given us 7,000 to 8,000 that are sort of out in the nebula which they call surplus. They don’t spend any time at all thinking about them. They’re just there and they’d be happy to unload them,” she added.

Under a state law passed in 2012, Pittsburgh has the authority to establish a land bank, and that bank has the ability to accept free property. It could also recoup about half of the money collected from outstanding taxes and liens when tax-delinquent parcels are sold through city treasurer’s sales. The land bank would not have the power of eminent domain.

Once established, the land back would replace the city’s current “land-recycling” method and use proceeds from sales of its assets to create a more focused and specific approach toward redeveloping these properties. Using the city’s current method at its current pace, it’s estimated that clearing the backlog of blighted properties would take about 60 years.  

Gross also noted that a Pittsburgh land bank could work in concert with municipalities outside the city, such as Wilkinsburg, to help faster spur community development projects.

“That’s stuff the URA wouldn’t be allowed to do but the land bank could,” she says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Deb Gross

Eat + Drink: Rum cocktails, beer and...gluten-free fries?

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s week a epic local nommz.

Rum cocktails for everyone
Maggie’s Farm Rum, the Strip District distillery from Tim Russell which opened its doors for bottle sales after Thanksgiving last year, held the grand opening of its in-house cocktail and tasting bar on Saturday. Russell, who for the event partnered with the organizers of Pittsburgh Cocktail Week and Butterjoint Bar Manager Will Groves, offered attendees a menu of five cocktails and a rum punch.

Russell says that eventually, the bar will operate in conjunction with the distillery’s retail hours, but that for now, the bar will only be open Thursday through Sunday, and that he'll likely offer between four and six different rum cocktails at a given time.

CoStar on tap at Gus’s Café
Eat + Drink paid its first visit to Gus’s Café in Lawrenceville over the weekend and discovered a few great things:
1. French fries cooked in gluten-free oil taste just as good as those fried in regular oil (admittedly, we’re still not sure what gluten actually tastes like).
2. A local brewery called CoStar (more on them next week) makes an American-style pale ale called Hopland Park. It’s a dark gold, hazy as apple cider and strikes an extremely fine balance between hop and citrus flavors; remarkably refreshing for how full-bodied it is. Go try it.
3. Gus’s ambience, menu and simple charm — plus the sizable outdoor patio on the way — could eventually make it one of the top neighborhood bars in a city full of great neighborhood bars.

The Porch hosts ‘Bee to Beer’ tonight
To celebrate the release of its Honey Heather Ale, East End Brewing will throw a release party tonight at The Porch at Schenley from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Made with honey from hives kept on the roof of The Porch, this new edition of Honey Heather Ale will only be available on draft at The Porch and its Downtown sister restaurant Six Penn Kitchen, as well as East End’s brewery in Larimer.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Tim Russell, George Haritos

Schell Games expanding to Station Square offices

Schell Games, the South Side-based videogame developer is expanding its operations and will move from its space at 2313 East Carson Street this spring, but it won’t be going far — two miles down the road, to be exact.

“We’re going to be in Bessemer Court, which is located in across the street from the main mall area in Station Square,” says Schell spokesperson Jill Sciulli.

The award-winning, local game developer, now entering its 12th year of business, has occupied its South Side location for the past six years. The new space won’t just be bigger, but more convenient for both Schell’s employees and clients.

“I think the location will be a lot easier for clients to come visit, as well as a bit more accommodating to them. It’s a much more [tourist-friendly] place, and if they spend the night, they’ll have an easier time taking advantage of what Pittsburgh has to offer,” Sciulli says.

Though she couldn’t detail specifications, Scuilli described the new space as consisting of two floors with a mezzanine and large windows

“In terms of creativity, we feel it will allow our employees to explore their creativity and inspire them,” she added.

After the move, Schell will also look to add to its workforce and will add up to 10 new employees later this year. The company currently employs about 100 people.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jill Sciulli

East Liberty Whole Foods plans expansion, more parking

Since it opened in 2002, the East Liberty Whole Foods has provided Pittsburgh with something nobody before thought possible: a parking circumstance more maddening than the North Shore during a Steelers game, combined with Starlake after a Tom Petty concert, multiplied by East Carson Street on St. Patrick’s Day.

Now, after nearly 12 years of parking anarchy, the Mosites Company is working with Whole Foods, not only to expand parking, but the market itself.

The proposed plan would see a second parking deck installed above the current ground-level lot, as well as a 6,900-square-foot second floor added to the market. That, plus an additional 8,300 square feet of proposed retail space on the ground floor will increase the market’s size by about 60 percent and net the store 52 additional parking spaces.

“The goal is to have the shell and the deck done by mid-September, and then there will be interior work that will take between three and six months,” says Steve Mosites, the development company’s president, who added that initial construction could begin as soon as March. “Right now, we’re working through the permit process, and we still need to get some variances from the city.”

While the store will remain open during construction, it will force the current parking lot to close from June through August. Mosites says that his company is working on alternative parking solutions to accommodate shoppers, and his talking with AAA about securing spaces in their lot across Centre Avenue.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Steve Mosites

Mayor's office announces pothole blitz

Rare is the Pittsburgher who’s seen a winter turn into a spring, a spring into a summer and a summer into a fall and thought, “how is it that they still haven’t fixed all the potholes from last year?”

In his second week on the job, Mayor Bill Peduto is getting a head start. His office announced yesterday that city’s department of public works will take advantage of the recent spate of warm weather and fix as many of the current potholes as possible over the next 72 hours, working around the clock as long as the weather remains clement.

The city will have 17 crews filling potholes during the day and another 10 crews working overnight shifts. The mayor has enlisted the help of the City Parks maintenance staff to assist the DPW during what’s thought to be the city’s first “pothole blitz.”

The mayor will discuss the initiative this morning at a news conference with Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa and District 2 Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith.

Peduto is encouraging residents to assist the city by reporting potholes to 311.

Writer: Matthew Wein

Eat + Drink: Bluebird Kitchen expands, Kevin Sousa celebrates, winter restaurant week details

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly roundup of epic local nommz.

Bluebird Kitchen opens second Downtown location
Bluebird Kitchen, the popular Downtown breakfast and lunch spot, opened a second location Monday on the lower level of the First Niagra Building at 11 Stanwix Street.

Like the original, the new installation will offer made-to-order breakfast, salads, sandwiches and pastries. The new Bluebird will be open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. the rest of this week, with breakfast service scheduled to debut next week.

Liz Moore opened the first Bluebird Kitchen at 221 Forbes Avenue, just outside of Market Square, in the spring of 2012.

Crowdfunding pays off for Superior Motors
Kevin Sousa’s crowdfunding campaign for a new farm-to-table restaurant in Braddock reached its goal and then some on Monday.

The Kickstarter campaign for Superior Motors, which sought to raise $250,000 in 33 days, wound up crossing that threshold some 18 hours before time ran out. By the time the clock hit all zeros, Sousa had raised $310,225 from 2,026 different backers, most of whom gave pleged $100 or less.

At the end of last week, the campaign was in serious danger of not hitting its goal. Sousa says that over the weekend, he and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman were staring down the possibility of what to do if they hadn’t met their goal.

“It’s incredibly humbling,” Sousa says.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, Winter 2014
The winter edition of 2014 Pittsburgh Restaurant Week starts next Monday and runs through the following Sunday. More than 75 local restaurants will participate, offering everything from specials for $20.14 to prix-fixe menus and other specials.

The kickoff and preview party will take place tomorrow at Bill Chisnell Productions, located at 1111 Penn Avenue in Downtown. Tickets, which may be purchased through ShowClix, are $50 in advance and $60 at the door.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Kevin Sousa

Developments to watch from the new administration

After taking the oath of office Monday, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto pledged in his inaugural address to “build the Next Pittsburgh.” Here are two major building projects initiated on Luke Ravenstahl’s watch — one which could see some drastic changes, the other the new mayor will have the opportunity to help shape — before they become part of the Next Pittsburgh.

Riverfront Landing
The Buncher Company’s original $450 million plan to redevelop riverfront space in the Strip District included an office and residential complex, extending 17th Street all the way to the Allegheny River and demolishing about a third of the iconic produce terminal on Smallman Street in order to make it happen.

The plan has drawn criticism from historic preservationists who don’t want to see any part of the building razed. Yesterday, Buncher agreed to put its plans for the building on hold while it works with Peduto’s office to try and find a solution agreeable to both sides

City council tabled a vote in December which would have granted the terminal an historic landmark designation and made it vastly more difficult for anyone to damage it.

Peduto has said that he would like to see the terminal reused without demolishing any part of it, and has compared it to Seattle’s Pike Place Market, which before its overhaul was also scheduled for demolition.

Almono site
In November, city council approved an $80 million tax-increment financing plan (TIF) — the largest in Pittsburgh’s history for the site of the former LTV Coke Works in Hazelwood.

While contractors will likely spend most of 2014 grading and building interior roads and utilities on the 178-acre site, no plans for its actual development have been finalized.

Peduto has said that he would like development of the site to include significant green infrastructure to help manage stormwater runoff and alleviate some burden from the city’s already overloaded sewer system. Such measures could include canals, shallows and stormwater gardens and parks, like the one built last year in Larimer.

Writer: Matthew Wein

Local firm bringing hotels to Millvale and Connellsville

Last year, Millvale welcomed its first library. If all goes plan, this year will see construction begin on Millvale’s first hotel in recent memory.

Local firm Hotel d2 Services has partnered with the Millvale Borough Development Corporation and Cobblestone Hotels to get the project moving.

“We started working with Cobblestone about eight months ago, and they expressed a strong desire to enter the western Pennsylvania market,” says Hotel d2’s Chris Rosselot. “There’s a big market for 30-to-60 room hotels in this area.”

Hotels d2 has already reached an agreement with the MBDC on a site — on Evergreen Street, next to the Drai Laag Brewery — and retained the services of Bridgeville-based architectural firm JMAC. Hotels d2 and JMAC are close to breaking ground on another hotel in Connellsville, though they’ve yet to select a contracting firm for either project.

“The whole crux of this initiative is to have community ownership as well,” Rosselot says. “Our team is identifying community members who’d have interest in ownership. We don’t want to pull in some investor from California to  fund the whole thing.”

The Connellsville building will have 54 rooms and be located right near the Great Allegheny Passage. Rosselot says It will cater toward the recreational guest, while the Millvale hotel will have more urban feel.

“There isn’t one prototype,” he added.

Groundbreaking on the Millvale site, he added, could begin as soon as late spring or early summer if everything goes according to plan, and that the hotel is projected to open in mid-2015. Construction on the hotel in Connellsville could begin as soon as February with the Cobblestone Inn & Suites ready to open toward the end of 2014.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Chris Rosselot

Eat + Drink: Ten Penny and Gus's open, Bella Christie branches out

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly roundup of local epic nommz.

Ten Penny to open this weekend
Ten Penny, the latest and most dining-focused restaurant and bar from AMPd Group — which earlier this year opened Skybar on the South Side — will open at the corner of Tenth Street and Penn Avenue in Downtown this weekend, according to AMPd Managing Partner Adam DeSimone.

Executive Chef Scott DeLuca, formerly of BOhem Bistro in Seven Fields and the South Side’s Truth Lounge, has designed a menu which explores new takes on classic American comfort food. The restaurant will sport 24 taps of craft beer to go with an extensive wine and cocktail menu.

Gus’s open in Lawrenceville
Gus’s Cafe, the long-awaited Lawrenceville venture from George Haritos, held its soft opening last week and is now operating full-time from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, with the kitchen closing at 11 p.m.
In addition to a generous beer selection, the café offers wine, cocktails and a variety of gluten-free dining options, including french fries, crepes and doughnuts.

Located at 4717 Butler Street, Gus’s takes its name from Konstantinos “Gus” Haritos, who opened Shadyside’s Harris Grill back in 1951. George Haritos, who sold Harris in 2003, also plans to open another restaurant at 5416 Butler.

Bella Christie coming to Lawrenceville
Bella Christie & Lil’ Z’s Sweet Boutique, the dessert-centric bakery known for making extravagant cakes for every occasion you could think of (and even a few you probably wouldn't), will open a new spot in February. The Aspinwall-based bakery will take over the former Dozen Bake Shop space at 3511 Butler Street.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Adam DeSimone

Emerald View Park will receive National Park Service assistance

Mount Washington’s Emerald View Park, which occupies 257 contiguous acres of land on Pittsburgh’s highest mountain, garnered some major support last week when the National Park Service deemed it eligible for its Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program.

“This is a great opportunity for the park to get more recognition for the kind of efforts we’ve been putting into it,” says Ilyssa Manspeizer, director of park development and conservation for the Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation.

The MWCDC, Manspeizer said, will utilize the NPS’s help in conducting a park use survey, finding continuing funding for park development and engaging the community in an ongoing conversation about how to best finance the park, among other things.

“We’ll be able to call on the assistance of some of their specialists,” Manspeizer says.

Emerald View Park links existing parks on Mt. Washington with degraded community green spaces and hillsides to form one of the region’s largest urban parks. The most recently refurbished piece, the Saddle Trail Head off of Sycamore Street, debuted to the public in September —a small but crucial connecting piece in the park’s extensive and growing series of commuter trails.

“We’re looking at several possibilities for next year,” Manspeizer says. “One is a connection from the Sycamore piece to the McArdle roadway, so it would be great for safe, commuter pedestrian access.”

Emerald View Park’s partnership with the NPS will last through September of next year, at which point it will be free to re-apply for further assistance if needed.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Ilyssa Manzpeizer

Community group seeking buyer for historic North Side church

If Pittsburgh has taught us anything, it’s that you can convert an old church to suit almost any need.

Between community centers, art studios, bars and restaurants, a preponderance of old churches has proved one of Pittsburgh’s greatest assets during its ongoing reinvention. Now, there’s an absolute gem on the market.

But don’t expect it to be there for long.

The church which housed the First Immanuel Evangelical Congregation, built by German and Swiss immigrants in 1889 is for sale by its owner, the Community Alliance of Spring Garden and East Deutschtown. The alliance purchased the church four years ago to save it from demolition, and had a congregation using its sanctuary as recently as last month.

Now, it’s looking for a new owner to bring economic potential to the neighborhood while taking care of the historic building.

“We want someone who’d love and care for it, but who’d also bring some kind of economic stimulus to the neighborhood” says Nancy Noszka, a development consultant who’s working with the alliance to help sell the building at 1000 Madison Avenue at Tripoli Street.

Noszka adds that the alliance is working to have the building designated an historic landmark with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, and that among the interested parties are people who would look to turn the space into an artists’ social club, gallery space or concert venue.

The church itself occupies a little about 16,000 square feet, including two adjacent buildings which are not a part of the original structure. The building is in pretty good shape for being nearly 125 years old, and sanctuary is in nearly pristine condition — including leaden stained glass windows which, though boarded on the outside, trace their origins to a turn-of-the-century Highland Park glassmaker.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Nancy Noszka

Carnegie Mellon gets $10 million gift toward renovating Heinz College space

Hamburg Hall, the home of Carnegie Mellon University’s H. John Heinz III College, will undergo a major overhaul over the course of the next two years, thanks in part to a gift from the Heinz Endowments.

“It’s all going toward renovating and expanding the home of the Heinz College,” says CMU spokesperson Abby Simmons.

The renovation and addition to Hamburg Hall constitutes the second of four phases of expansion CMU has planned for the western portion of its campus along Forbes Avenue in Oakland.

“The crux of phase two is creating a larger auditorium, renovating the rotunda and developing some collaborative spaces for students to meet for projects — a sort of open, common area,” Simmons says. “It’s very focused on improving the student experience and improving growth and enrollment.”

The Heinz College offers the nation’s top graduate and post-graduate programs in information technology and management, and a program among the 10 best in public policy analysis, according to U.S. News & World Report rankings. Not surprisingly, it’s seen a 30 percent spike in enrollment since 2008.

“What we’re finding is that the enrollment growth we’ve experienced the past several years has made it necessary to create more space for students and faculty,” Simmons says.  “This is part of an ongoing relationship that the Heinz College has benefitted from. We’re very thankful for their support through the years.”

Simmons added that Phase II of the expansion is tentatively due to be completed by December of 2015.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Abby Simmons

Eat + Drink: Fish, fireplaces, macarons by mail

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly look at epic local nommz.

Toro Fest 2013
Bloomfield’s Fukuda, which celebrated its first anniversary in October, is hosting its first annual Toro Fest this week, with a full calendar of events scheduled through next Monday. Named for the Japanese term for fatty Bluefin tuna, Toro Fest isn’t just a celebration of the food itself, but of fish and sustainability on the whole.

Throughout the week, Fukuda will offer sessions on Japanese culture and language at the restaurant, and end the week by taking over No Menu Monday at Bar Marco on December 16th.

For more information, check out Fukuda’s Toro Fest calendar or the event’s Facebook page.
 
Macarons by mail
Gaby et Jules, the French patisserie on Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill which started this year as a joint venture between Paris 66 owners Fred and Lori Rongier and Master Pastry Chef David Piquard, has opened up an online store and begun taking orders for its deservedly celebrated macarons.

In addition to its normal range of flavors, Piquard has rolled out a holiday line which includes gingerbread, peppermint white chocolate, Orangette (chocolate and orange, Eat + Drink’s favorite), chestnut and egg nog — a flavor Piquard was initially skeptical of, but which was made at Lori Rongier’s urging and much to our delight.

To ensure the macarons arrive fresh, Gaby et Jules ships only Monday through Wednesday and utilizes USPS Priority Mail.
 
Get inside, get warm
Today’s high is under 30°. Tomorrow’s is under 20°. But are you really going to let that keep you from enjoying your weeknight happy hour? Consider joints with fireplaces:

For drinks, stop by 1947 Tavern on Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside. Monterey Pub in the North Side’s Mexican War Streets district is another cozy option. A few blocks away, Max’s Allegheny Tavern offers German fare by an old fireplace. Toast! offers excellent food and great wine in a beautiful old building in Shadyside which has fireplaces on all three stories. Eat + Drink’s favorite, though, is The Oak Room — the hotel bar inside the Mansions on Fifth. It’s seldom crowded unless there’s an event, and it’s easily one of the five coziest rooms in the city.

Writer: Matthew Wein

An artist and an antique dealer form one of the Strip District's coolest shared spaces

Michael Lotenero was an artist looking for workspace. John and Marla Zerrer were antique dealers with a little more space than they needed.

“These guys were looking to rent the space out to other antique dealers, and I just walked in one day and asked if they’d be willing to rent it out for one artist to use as a studio,” Lotenero says.

That’s how the front half of Zerrer’s Antiques, located at 2703 Penn Avenue in the Strip District, became the headquarters for Lotenero Art + Design. And why not?

Lotenero and the Zerrers will celebrate one year together with an open house tomorrow from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., showcasing both businesses’ finest in art and antiques, respectively.

The building, which in 1890 housed the upscale Hays Hotel & Saloon, sports unfinished bare brick walls and an ornate ceiling of pressed tin — all frozen in a state of decay that’s warm, interesting and oddly suited to its joint purposes.

Because it’s situated in an area of the Strip that’s closer to Lower Lawrenceville than it is to the food markets, the block hasn’t seen much foot traffic since the Zerrers moved in about five years ago, but that’s changing with the relocation of the Pittsburgh Public Market.

“I’ve noticed a lot more foot traffic on the block,” says John Zerrer. “You see some, but usually it’s people going to check out the warehouse with the Steelers jerseys. But the week the market opened, we had people who stopped in on their way to or from the market who said they had no idea we were here.”

The partnership has benefitted both businesses. Zerrer’s dedicated clientele, some of whom do prop work for movies, have inquired about using Lotenero’s art. People who specifically seek out Lotenero’s work find themselves in a room full of eclectic antiques, rethinking the way they want to decorate.

“I’m here almost every day. It’s an open studio. I wanted to be exposed to people walking in and being around,” Lotenero says. “It’s a weird experiment. I get to rifle through some weird, old things.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Michael Lotenero, John Zerrer

Pittsburgh-based eyewear company gets serious about charity

To any Pittsburgh outsider, the fact that Penn Avenue Eyewear isn’t located anywhere near Penn Avenue might make about as much sense as the Port Authority’s bus numbering system, or how streets here have a funny way of casually turning into staircases.

But even most Pittsburghers would be at a loss to explain why a company called Penn Avenue Eyewear would be located on the North Side. The fledgling online retailer of locally designed glasses frames started out as an optical lab on Penn in the Strip District, but recently moved its operation after establishing a large retail presence online.

“We officially launched in May. We’re really just starting out,” says Caitlin Northup, the company’s creative director.
While the company has quickly gained traction as an online retailer, Northup thinks its new charity initiative could help put the company on more Pittsburghers’ maps. Last week, Pen Avenue Eyewear began allowing customers to choose a charity to receive 10 percent of each purchase.

“We’ve been giving to charity and doing some special events. We got to thinking about it more and we wanted to put the choice in our customers’ hands,” Northup says.

Currently, the list includes seven local and national charities, but Northup says she hopes that list will grow with customer input.

“The more the merrier at this point,” she says. “I’d love to get to the point where we have so many charities that people can search them by name or location or anything. I want to completely open it up so people can find something which means something to them.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Caitlin Northup

Kevin Sousa to open farm-to-table restaurant in Braddock

If all goes according to plan, Chef Kevin Sousa could bring a game-changing installation to Braddock. But first, he needs the funding.

Sousa, whose restaurants include Salt of the Earth, Union Pig & Chicken and Station Street Hot Dogs, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise the funds necessary to build Superior Motors — a hyper-local restaurant from top to bottom, and just one part of what he sees as a local ecosystem capable of stimulating Braddock's economy.

"We don't have a lot of capital right now. The banks are not, at this time, willing to come to Braddock or take that risk," Sousa says. "We're really going for it. We feel like we've really put together a great campaign."

Superior Motors will occupy the space at 1121 Braddock Avenue in a structure which dates to 1921 and was one of the first indoor car dealerships in the country, known for a time as — you guessed it — Superior Motors. It's directly across from the Edgar Thompson Steel Works, which Sousa says provides a "malignant beauty."

The restaurant will get about 85 percent of its ingredients from within a two-block radius. In addition to utilizing Braddock Farms and the Braddock Apiary just down the street, Superior Motors will sport a 1,000 square-foot greenhouse on its roof, plus an additional 4,000 square feet of on-site, raised-bed gardens. Next door, the Braddock Hostel will provide no-cost housing for the restaurant's staff of culinary and service interns from across the country.

"There will be significant discounts for everyone who lives in Braddock," he says. "It won't be a matter of income. Everyone who wants to eat here will be able to afford this restaurant."

Additionally, Sousa is working with the Braddock Youth Project to offer the area's young people opportunities to develop practical skills in the food and farming trades.

"The goal is to provide more than just summer classes," he says. "We're working on a whole sustainable curriculum."
Sousa projects Superior Motors will be ready to open in early 2015.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Kevin Sousa

Eat + Drink: Kelly's new hours, an unusual seasonal beer and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly look at epic local nomz.

Kelly’s offering lunch service
Kelly’s, the decades-old East Liberty happy hour-mainstay, is known for its cocktails, ambience and baked mac & cheese. Now, after years of catering exclusively to Pittsburgh’s nightlife, the bar and lounge has expanded its hours and is open daily at 11:30 a.m., offering full lunch service.

“We have the same menu all day long, but we’ll be running daily lunch specials as well,” says Kelly’s general manager Deirdre Durant, adding that the specials will feature pot pies made from scratch which will change week-to-week, and sandwiches, including a lamb burger with pickled red onions.

Lunch isn’t an isolated incident, either. The bar will remain open until its usual 2 a.m. daily closing with happy hour running unchanged from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

An unexpected seasonal beer
Many beer drinkers tend to prefer hoppy beers during periods of warmer weather. But as he’s wont to do with just about everything, Roundabout Brewery’s Steve Sloan has created another stellar hybrid beer which bends convention.  

Called New Zealand Summer Winter Warmer, it combines an English-style winter warmer — a strong ale with heavy and sweet malt flavors — with a generous but not overwhelming amount of New Zealand hops. After all, our winter is their summer.

The result is a balanced, seasonal ale which is likely to satiate both malt fans and hopheads — something previously not thought possible.
 
Prohibition dinner at Tender
Eighty years ago tomorrow, the United States ratified the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, repealing Prohibition. To commemorate the occasion, Tender Bar + Kitchen is celebrating with a Repeal Day dinner featuring spirits from Laird & Company, America’s oldest commercial distillery.

Tickets for the event are $65 and include a four-course meal and cocktail reception with Lisa Laird, the distillery’s ninth-generation owner. For more information or to buy tickets, check out the event page.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Deirdre Durant

ACTION Housing to redevelop long-vacant Squirrel Hill property

After sitting vacant for nearly a decade, the space that formerly housed Poli restaurant in Squirrel Hill has been acquired by ACTION-Housing and will be redeveloped into a mix of residential and office units.

After more than a year of effort, ACTION acquired the property at 5685 Forward Avenue through a sheriff’s sale in September. It will partner with Jewish Residential Services to convert the site into a multi-purpose facility after demolishing the existing structure.

“We’d build up four or five stories,” says Linda Metropulos, ACTION-Housing’s director of housing and neighborhood development. “We’d build the building as a condo, and JRS would have the ground floor. We’d have the residential space above.”

Metropulos adds that JRS would likely use its portion of the space to build out its offices and improve the Howard Levin Clubhouse — a non-profit facility assisting people affected by mental illness — which currently sits in the space adjacent to the former restaurant.

She also says that while plans are very premature, the project will cost somewhere between $12 and $15 million to complete. Though ACTION hasn’t formally enlisted an architecture firm, Metropulos said it is doing preliminary consultations with Downtown-based FortyEighty Architecture.

“We’d probably start construction at the end of 2015,” Metropulos says. “It’s a lengthy process.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Linda Metropulos

Giant Eagle looks to open grocery store Downtown

On the heels of developer Ralph Falbo’s plan to open a boutique food market and wine bar in Market Square, Giant Eagle is exploring the notion of opening a full-service grocery somewhere in Downtown Pittsburgh.

While Giant Eagle hasn’t yet chosen a site for a Downtown location, there are several it is considering.

“We have been collaborating with Giant Eagle on a feasibility study to see if Downtown is a location that would be suitable for them, and the indicators are positive,” says Leigh White of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “They’re looking at a number of sites but haven’t settled on anything.”

Downtown Pittsburgh hasn’t had a full-service grocery store since Rosebud Fine Food Market and Deli, which was located at the corner of Seventh Street and Fort Duquesne Boulevard, closed in 2010 after just two years of operation. Prior to Rosebud, Downtown’s last grocery store was The Market on Market Square, which occupied the former G.C. Murphy building on Forbes Avenue and closed its doors in 1994.

Demand for a grocery store in Downtown Pittsburgh has steadily grown over the last several years as the area’s residential population has increased. According to a report the PDP released earlier this year, about 8,000 people live in the Greater Downtown area. The same report stated that in answering an open-ended question about retail needed in Downtown, 33 percent of residents identified a grocery store as their top priority.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Leigh White

Award-winning Holiday Market returns, bigger and better

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market, which earlier this year won a Merit Award from the International Downtown Association, is back up and running in Downtown Pittsburgh’s Market Square.

“Last year, we had 12 to 15 vendors. This year, we have more than 25,” says Leigh White of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “We have six vendors who came in from overseas and from across the country.”

This year’s market boasts vendors selling holiday goods from Eastern European cultures familiar to Pittsburgh, all the way to special items from Ireland and Nepal. There’s a large tent offering traditional, handmade German decorations, a selection of trees and wreaths of various sizes and plenty to eat.

White added that in addition to adding some more international flavor to this year’s edition — which has turned Market Square into a miniature holiday village — the market has added some Pittsburgh-specific retailers to its repertoire.

Drew and Jeannine Hine’s South Side-based Vessel Studio Glass had a booth part-time at last year’s market, but is back again this year, occupying a full-time space, where they’re offering everything from intricately designed cheese knives to hand-blown tree ornaments —including a mock-up of the much-beloved rubber duck which spent three weeks in Pittsburgh waters earlier this year.

“We’re making more every night just to keep up with demand,” Jeannine Hine says.

White says the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is expecting more than 250,000 visitors to the holiday market, and that it anticipates a very positive effect on the Downtown economy. Last year, for every $100 consumers spent in the market, they spent an additional $500 in Downtown’s other businesses and restaurants.

“One of the biggest reasons we do this is that we want people to come Downtown and shop here, but also shop at the other stores and restaurants, and we’re really seeing the effects of that,” White says.

For a complete list of the market's vendors and operating hours, visit its website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Leigh White

Eat + Drink: A heavy dose of holiday spirits and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly look at epic local nomz.

Larkin leads the way on Allegheny River Libation Trail
It seems that craft breweries, distilleries and wineries just recently started popping up in Pittsburgh.

Well don’t look now, but there are 15 such independent producers along the Allegheny River corridor alone. That’s why Bill Larkin, who with his wife, Michelle, owns and operates Arsenal Cider House in Lawrenceville, is leading the charge in establishing the Allegheny River Libation Trail.

“I pulled everybody together from a certain geographical area and we just had a meeting,” Larkin said. “I think it’s remarkable that there are so many producers in such a small area. I think it’s something that should be exploited.”

The coalition’s first order of business will be to produce a brochure, highlighting all of its members and their proximity to one another. Larkin says that since a lot of the producers already support each other— many order their ingredients together in bulk to save on shipping costs — so this kind of cross-promotion makes sense.

Of the 15 breweries, distilleries and wineries in the neighborhoods along both sides of the Allegheny — from Millvale and Lawrenceville, all the way up through the Strip District and the North Side — 13 intend to participate in what Larkin views as a loose confederation of businesses.

“I don’t think anybody wants to make this an official organization,” he says. “We’re all pretty busy, and I don’t think anyone wants that kind of commitment.”
 
Stay Tuned Distillery opens in Munhall
One distillery you won’t find on the libation trail, simply by virtue of its location, is the Stay Tuned Distillery, which opened earlier this month.

Located at 810 Ravine Street in Munhall, Stay Tuned specializes in finishing whisky and gin made from spirits distilled at the Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, Virginia. The local operation houses their rectification facilities, a retail shop and a tasting bar.

“We finish their rye and their single malt, and we make our own gin,” says co-owner LeeAnn Sommerfeld.

Though not yet available for sale, Stay Tuned’s PathoGin is made from a barley base and contains more citrus and floral flavors than most mass-market gins. Its rye and single malt whiskys will both be ready in time for the holiday shopping season.

Music at Marty's Market
The folks at Marty's Market are forever finding new ways to make use of their outstanding space. This Friday will mark the first installment of the Music at Marty's series, which will feature local Latin musician Geña. The event will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and include music, freshly prepared Latin cuisine and a Q&A with the musician. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased on the market's website.
 
Cocktail viewing party
Hey Bartender,” Douglas Tirola’s documentary examining New York City’s craft cocktail culture through the eyes of two skilled mixologists, will screen tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Downtown’s Harris Theater as a part of the Three Rivers Film Festival.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Bill Larkin, LeeAnn Sommerfeld

Aspinwall breaks ground on new riverfront park

When planning the groundbreaking for the new Aspinwall Riverfront Park, park developer Susan Crookston wasn’t aiming to create a corporate photo opportunity. She wanted to involve all the locals who’d volunteered their time and donated their money.

So when area residents gathered at the site of the future park on Saturday, anyone who wanted to help break ground had the chance.

“We didn’t want to have guys in suits standing around with shovels,” Crookston says. “Everyone got a shovel we’d painted gold and we planted 2,000 bulbs. It was great to see the kids running around, throwing dirt and eating cookies.”

It’s that kind of joy, Crookston says, which has helped get this park project moving so quickly. After finalizing designs in May, construction on the park’s west side, which will include walking trails and quiet recreation areas, will go on throughout the winter.

“We’ve had people really give in sacrificial ways. So many people have been involved in making this happen,” she says. “It takes most communities ten years to build a park, and we’re on two and well under way.”

While the first phase of construction is taking place, park leaders plan to erect a temporary ice skating rink next month and hope to have it ready for use by January. Right now, they’re seeking donations of ice skates. The park’s second phase, an active recreation space, could even begin concurrent to its first — something Crookston says is a matter of obtaining permits and the final 30 percent of the funding required.

If the local eagerness to get the park up and running is any indication, it won’t be long. At the groundbreaking, a child handed Crookston a bag containing $3.27.

“He knew he was building the park,” Crookston says. “When you think about somebody giving you what they’ve saved, that’s an important gift.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Susan Crookston

Small Business Saturday highlights local retailers

A lot has changed in Downtown Pittsburgh since Jeff Izenson’s grandfather opened Specialty Luggage in 1944.

The store has moved twice, occupying three different buildings within the same block of Liberty Avenue. It’s opened satellite locations in the Waterworks and South Hills Village. Oh, and big-box stores and the internet have completely changed the way people shop for nearly everything — including luggage — to the point where a lot of old, family-owned small businesses haven’t survived.

Three years ago, piggybacking on the growing movement encouraging local shopping, American Express created and promoted Small Business Saturday — a shopping event situated between the utter madness of Black Friday and server-crashing traffic of Cyber Monday — reminding consumers that sometimes, it’s nice to examine something before buying it. It’s been a boon to small businesses like Izenson’s, which thrive by offering a level of customer service big box stores and the Internet can’t compete with.

“We spend an inordinate amount of time training our people on how to take care of our customers,” Izenson says. “Providing a great experience is the most important thing we do every day. At the end of the day, my business exists because of a staff that cares about its customers.”

While Small Business Saturday is an American Express creation which encourages both stores and cardholders to register beforehand for certain perks and rewards, the Small Business Administration has set up guides for both shoppers and small business owners to foster shopping locally — something Pop City heartily endorses.

For a full list of small, locally owned businesses in your area officially taking part in Small Business Saturday, check out the official website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jeff Izenson

PCRG initiative seeks to revive housing in Pittsburgh's Sheraden neighborhood

Originally built as one of Pittsburgh’s first working-class developments, Sheraden has seen better days. But if a Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group initiative pays off, better days are still to come.

“You kind of have this perfect storm situation where you had this steady population decline, and when the housing bubble burst, Sheraden was hit harder than any other neighborhood in Pittsburgh,” says the PCRG’s Steve Novotny.

The PCRG chose Sheraden — an historic but declining neighborhood in West Pittsburgh — as the pilot for its Reimagining Communities initiative last year. The initiative, which includes partnerships with NeighborWorks Western PA and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, is taking a multi-faceted approach toward reversing property divestment in one of Pittsburgh’s most overlooked neighborhoods.

PCRG's help, the Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation has acquired a number of vacant and foreclosed properties with the ultimate goal of bringing them up to standard and putting them back on the market.

“At a given time you’ve got about 180 vacant sturctures out of about 900 – about a 20 percent rate. The big take away from that is that over the last few years, only about 20 have been for sale,” Novotny says. “What we’re doing is trying to collect data on the property in the neighborhood, and figure out what’s keeping these properties from being on the market.”

In addition to rehabbing homes and collecting information about how to best move forward, the initiative offers Sheraden residents access to financial education workshops and resources. In doing this, PCRG hopes not only to keep current residents from avoiding foreclosure, but build their financial literacy and personal wealth, in addition to offering free repairs for elderly residents’ homes.

“It helps support our work in the neighborhood in addressing these issues and trying to reactivate the housing market,” Novotny says. “The housing stock is largely still intact. It’s a good mix of older, worker-style and mixed-income housing, and a lot of the homes have front and back yards and off-street parking.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Steve Novotny

Eat + Drink: A new Downtown spot from Spoon, bottles of rum and much more

Spoon chefs preview dishes for new Downtown restaurant
Grit & Grace, the new Downtown venture from Spoon Executive Chef Brian Pekarcik and Chef de Cuisine Curtis Gamble, previewed several new dishes during No Menu Monday this week at Bar Marco. We sampled the pickled dates with apple, pear and manchego cheese, the dim sum trio comprised of Hamachi sashimi, Ahi tuna crab rolls and soba noodles with shitake mushrooms and orange-chili vinaigrette, and a salmon entrée served with crispy pretzel bread pudding, braised cabbage and pickled mustard seeds.

The pork larb and curried goat also went over extremely well. Grit & Grace, which will occupy the space at 535 Liberty Avenue formerly held by Taste of Dahntahn, plans to open next month.

The perfect gift for your favorite rum drinker
As we hinted at in an item last week, Maggie’s Farm Rum, Pittsburgh’s newest hand-crafted spirit, will be available to the public for bottle sales only the day after Thanksgiving. Made from Turbinado sugar cane, the French West Indies-style white rum will retail for $28 per bottle.

After Black Friday, Maggie’s Farm will go back to dealing exclusively with local bars and restaurants until owner Tim Russell finishes construction on the distillery’s tasting area and cocktail bar.

Oysters all over
Oysters are all the rage right now and there’s no shortage of places to get them:

Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle
in the Strip District will host the 10th annual Guinness Oyster Festival on Saturday starting at noon. In addition to fresh oysters on the half-shell, the menu will feature fried oysters and oyster stew.

Salt of the Earth
, Kevin Sousa’s flagship eatery in Garfield, has been serving different varieties of oysters on the half-shell as a part of its Tuesday late-night menu since May. The best part? They’re only a dollar apiece.

Recently opened in East Liberty, Bar Marco offshoot The Livermore is now offering an oyster happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Like Salt’s, they’re only a dollar each.

Yiddish food? Where else?!
Nu, the modern Jewish bistro from the owners of Pamela’s, is now open for lunch and dinner service at 1711 Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill. We stopped by for lunch last week and found an absolute revelation in the smoked brisket chili, served with sour cream, shredded cheese and pickled red onions.

The Jewbano — a sandwich featuring thick-cut corned beef, brisket and fried pickles among other things, was delicious, as was our half of the salmon burger topped with lox and capers.

The matzo ball soup was a little on the salty side, but be warned: Nu has taken a side in the light and fluffy versus heavy and dense knaidlach debate, entrenching itself firmly on the side of matzo balls which will sink right to the bottom.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Tim Russell

The Brew Gentlemen plant roots in Braddock

In the great tradition of what Braddock once was, Asa Foster and Matt Katase are out to build something.

“Braddock’s not going to be back to what it was, but it will reinvent itself as something else,” Katase says. “We want to be a part of that.”

Foster and Katase, who met during their freshman year at Carnegie Mellon and became fast friends, started brewing their own beer three years ago while college juniors. Last year, they took over the space at 512 Braddock Avenue and set about — quite literally — building The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company.

Katase recalls showing the space to his brother last year around Thanksgiving.

“I unlocked the door and said, ‘this is where it’s going to be!’ and it was, well, not a disaster, but the remains of what was once an electrical supply store.”

Though they’ve taken a break from actually brewing to physically construct their brewery — they’re doing nearly all of the renovations themselves — they’ve already developed and tested a number of recipes, including four flagship beers which they plan to keep on tap year-round.

Foster, a Boston native, and Katase, who hails from Hawaii, envision their space as a large, serene and inviting area, full of exposed brick and wood, and moving at a different pace than most breweries.

“We are definitely looking to bring something to the Pittsburgh beer market that doesn’t already exist,” Foster says. “We want to have a more café kind of vibe in that we want people to feel comfortable with it as a hangout space, not just a tasting space.”

“Come in and read a book. Come in and get some work done. Nobody’s going to rush you out of your seat just because you’re taking up a barstool,” Katase added.

“It’s a manifestation of our brand, and we want that to be reflective of what our beer is,” Foster says. “It’s the place where we have the most control over quality.”

Foster and Katase hope to start brewing again by late December or early January, and have the taproom open to the public early next year. In the meantime, they’ve had plenty of support.

“Almost every day, someone comes up to us and says something thankful or encouraging,” Katase says. “People are psyched to see young people doing things in Braddock.”

You can follow The Brew Gentlemen’s progress on their blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Asa Foster, Matt Katase

Hazelwood riverfront gets largest TIF in city history

Pittsburgh City Council has approved the largest tax-increment financing plan in the city’s history, green-lighting an $80 million plan to aid in the redevelopment of 178 acres of brownfield in Hazelwood.

Known as Almono, the site once served as the Pittsburgh hub for J&L Steel, later LTV Steel. The company’s operations were so expansive that it built what’s now known as the Hot Metal Bridge to connect its blast furnaces on both sides of the Monongahela River between Oakland and the South Side.

“One of the remarkable things about this project is the fact that four foundations came together to purchase this property so that they could pursue a mixed-use, highly sustainable project, giving them the time and the thoughtfulness to make it an example of best practice from sustainable development,” says Lisa Schroeder, president and CEO of Riverlive. “It’s a long time coming and the scale of it is really a change-maker.”

The foundations — R.K. Mellon, Benedum, McCune and the Heinz Endowments, with RIDC overseeing the development — teamed up to purchase the lot for $10 million in 2002 when it was abandoned space with obsolete infrastructure which cut the community of Hazelwood off from its riverfront. It remains a totally unused gap on the north bank of the Monogahela riverfront, but Schroeder says that should soon change with the TIF now approved.

“One of the reasons that the TIF financing is so powerful is that the site requires an investment in infrastructure,” Schroeder says, adding that development is likely to include not just residential and commercial property, but extension of the city’s riverfront parks and bike trails, as well as gateways from Hazelwood to Oakland, the South Side and Downtown.

“The existing community will be seamlessly weaved into the plan,” she says, adding that Hazelwood will see “urban fabric all the way to the river’s edge.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Lisa Schroeder

Jeremiah's Place is Pittsburgh's first crisis nursery

A single mother is in the hospital and it’s going to be hours before grandma can get in from out-of-state. A military spouse is all alone and in the midst of an emergency, but can’t leave their young child home alone.

“When you talk to families who have young children, they understand this concept,” says Dr. Lynn Williams. “Unless you have family right in the area or a really good network of friends you can turn to, there will be situations in which you’ll need help.”

That’s why Williams, a pediatrician, has teamed up with Dr. Tammy Murdoch and Eileen Sharbaugh to create Jeremiah’s Place — Pittsburgh’s first crisis shelter for children.

“We’ll be a licensed child care and residential facility, capable of keeping kids for up to 72 hours,” Williams says, adding that the facility will be able to accommodate six to 12 children under the age of 6 overnight, and up to 20 kids during the day. “When you don’t know where to turn, this place helps you. We know that if we keep harming or damaging children within the first six years of their lives, that has a very long-term impact on their physical and mental health.”

Jeremiah’s Place, named for one of Williams’s mother’s foster children, aims to provide a safe and caring place for children under the age of six whose families are experiencing tough times, free of charge to parents. In doing so, it looks to help stabilize families by requiring every parent who drops a child off at Jeremiah’s Place to meet with a social worker and set individualized goals.

“Pittsburgh has a lot of fantastic stuff for families and we don’t want to duplicate any of that,” Williams says. “We want to connect people to what already exists.”

That includes collaborating with local non-profits, establishing mentor networks and helping stabilize and strengthen families.

Jeremiah’s Place will occupy 3,500 square feet in the Kingsley Association at the corner of Frankstown Avenue and East Liberty Boulevard in Larimer. The space will include three bedrooms, an open play area and a few offices. Architect John Schrott of IKM has worked pro bono to help design the space, and that construction should begin within the next couple of weeks and be ready to open in January.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Lynne Williams

Eat + Drink: Blowfish BBQ, Butcher and the Rye and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly roundup of epic local nomz.

Finely. Smoked. Meats. 
Just because the Steelers are terrible doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a great game-day experience, food and all. And when it comes to Sunday barbecue, few do it better than Justin Blakey.

Blakey, who’s in charge of all things beer at D’s Six Pax & Dogz in Regent Square and is better known to Pittsburgh beer drinkers as “Hootie,” played off his longtime nickname in creating his new venture, Blowfish BBQ. Every Sunday, Blakey sets up shop at D’s around 1 p.m., selling pork ribs, chicken and beef brisket, along with a host of savory sides such as smoked mac-and-cheese, red potatoes and a vinegar-dressed slaw.

“This is the perfect outlet to start it out,” says Blakey, adding that  while he's fine working out of the D's kitchen for the time being, he's looking to expand and perhaps open up a commercial space offering restaurant and catering services.

Blowfish BBQ’s meats aren’t grilled, but slow-smoked, requiring Blakey to carefully maintain a steady fire at a specific temperature over several hours. Pork and poultry spend the preceding days in various rubs and brines. The brisket takes a different path.

“I really don’t believe beef needs any special treatment — just salt and pepper, and let the smoke do the work,” he says.

In addition to a Texas-style brisket, Carolina-style ribs and his own special recipe for chicken, Blakey is still developing various sauces to complement his offerings. He’s most adamant about perpetuating vinegar-based sauces.

“It accents the meat more than it covers it up. I think with true barbecue, that’s what you’re really looking to do,” he says.

And while you're in the neighborhood…
Unlike Christmas-themed ads or Halloween parties seeping between weekends, one seasonal pleasure limited to November is D’s Franksgiving dog — a turkey hot dog on a steamed, poppy seed bun, topped with mashed potatoes, corn, stuffing and gravy, served with a side of cranberry sauce.

Trust us on this one.

Butcher and the Rye now open Downtown
After a few small events and a soft opening, Butcher and the Rye, the long-awaited second venture from the team responsible for Meat & Potatoes, opened for business last week.

Located at 212 Sixth Street in the Cultural District, Butcher offers creative small plates and open seating to go with their veritable archive of more than 350 kinds of bourbon. Yes, really. There’s even a ladder, reminiscent of those you’ll find in high-ceilinged library stacks, and giving new meaning to the term, “top shelf.”

Whether you stop in to try one of Chef Richard DeShantz’s new offerings or just to have a drink, the view alone warrants a visit, and the big leather chairs near the second-floor bar are especially comfy.

A new Downtown eatery from the creators of Skybar
Ten Penny, an upscale-casual restaurant with a diverse menu, will open later this month at 960 Penn Avenue in Downtown. The latest from Adam DeSimone’s AMPD Group, Ten Penny will offer dinner seven days a week, lunch Monday through Friday, brunch on weekends and special happy hour and late-night menus.

In addition to a large bar with 24 craft beers on tap, the space will offer a variety of seating options including a private dining room which will seat up to 20 people and café-style outdoor dining starting next spring.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Justin Blakey

After a long, strange trip, Maggie's Farm Rum is open for business

When we checked in with Tim Russell in August, he was a ventilation system away from starting production on Maggie’s Farm Rum out of his distillery on Smallman Street in the Strip District.

With all of his equipment in place, all Russell needed to open for business was federal approval of his label from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. ATF is notoriously nitpicky when it comes to approving alcohol labels, often requiring applicants to make multiple revisions and resubmit to what can be a month-long process.

Russell submitted his third iteration in September. Then, the government shut down.

With his label in limbo, Russell found his entire business on hold. The Washington Post took notice, making Maggie’s Farm the lead item in a feature on how the shutdown impacted people outside the federal workforce. That feature led to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a congresswoman from Texas, telling Russell’s story on the floor of the House.

Last Friday, about two weeks after the 16-day shutdown ended, Russell got word that his label was approved, allowing him to open for business.

“Initially, because of limited quantities, I’m just going to make it available to bars and restaurants,” Russell says, adding that he’ll likely open to the public once the cocktail bar and tasting room areas of his space are ready in the next couple of months.

“I might do a Black Friday thing where I’d open up bottle sales to the public whether the tasting room is done or not,” he says.

Russell will do a tasting of Maggie’s Farm Rum tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Bocktown Beer & Grill in Robinson. You can follow the distillery’s progress on Facebook and Twitter.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Tim Russell

Community Builders breaks ground on East Liberty Place South

The Community Builders, one of the country’s largest non-profit developers, ceremonially broke ground Monday morning on East Liberty Place South, a $14.2 million project which will ultimately fill the space where East Mall Apartments once stood.

Located at 5836 Penn Avenue, East Liberty Place South will contain 52 one- and two-bedroom apartments and 11,000 square feet of commercial space.

“It’s a building that’s fairly close to the scale of East Liberty Place North,” says James Eby, senior project manager for Community Builders. “The difference is that we’ve treated the ground floor a little differently. We have a very small residential footprint on the ground. Commercial viability there was very important.”

Eby added that because the units will have certain income limits, he expects rent for the one-bedroom apartments to range between $517 and $900 per month, and the two-bedroom units to go for between $618 and $1,250.

“What we’re doing on the residential space is for people interested in the residential housing, they can get on an interest list. And then when we’re ready to start leasing, they’ll be invited to apply,” he says, adding that the developer received more than 200 applications for similar units in East Liberty Place North, just across the street, before the building opened its doors.

As they did with East Liberty North, Community Builders will work with architecture firm Strada and Sota Construction on the project, which is scheduled to open next October.

“Our goal is to replicate that at South,” Eby says.  “I expect a lot of interest again.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: James Eby

Yellow Couch Studio provides inviting space for aspiring musicians

Music has always been a big part of Steven Foxbury’s life. He had some success years ago as a singer-songwriter before it was pushed into the margins of his life. When he and his wife moved into their current house in Mt. Lebanon, he saw the potential to turn his basement into a studio space, just for fun.

When his mother passed away in 2010, Foxbury decided to direct more energy into his music.

“It forced a laser-like focus,” Foxbury says. “I knew I wanted to make music a more central focus and the studio was a big piece of that.”

Foxbury had worked with lots of different kinds of artists before, and decided he wanted to again. His basement became Yellow Couch Studio.

“I put an ad on Craigslist and people just started showing up,” he says. “It started growing.”

It's grown so much that earlier this year, Foxbury left his job at the Society for Contemporary Craft to devote himself to the studio full-time. He’s worked with local musicians Tarra Layne, Sleep Experiments, The Velcro Shoes, Jimbo Jackson and Joy Ike, and Florida-based band The New Lows, just to name a few.

“There’s one guy I’ve worked with who I don’t even record. We just work on his songwriting,” Foxbury says, adding that the space itself is pretty modest, but what it lacks it glitz it more than makes up for in comfort, comparing the space to a warm, cozy treehouse.

Yellow Couch offers a wide swath of options for musicians in various stages, from full bands who know exactly what they want out of recordings to aspiring players who show up with nothing more than a vocal harmony and want build around it.

“So far, everyone’s been very happy with the results,” Foxbury says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Steven Foxbury

Eat + Drink: Constellation Coffee, Reverse Keg Ride, farmer markets wind down

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly roundup of epic local nomz.

Constellation Coffee arrives at Penn & Main
Amy Weiland worked as a barista at Tazza D’Oro in Highland Park for more than three years, all the while wanting to open her own shop. When she walked by the vacant space at 4059 Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville, she knew she’d found something special.

Serving coffee from Annapolis-based Ceremony Coffee Roasters, Weiland opened Constellation Coffee last week.

“I wanted to go with something from the east coast,” Weiland said of her roaster choice. “Whenever I was doing samplings from different roasters, Ceremony just blew every other roaster out of the water. All their coffees have nice balance and flavor, and all are light to medium roasts.”

Constellation will go for a diner-style vibe. In addition to serving up mainly espresso-based drinks, it serves up slices from the Pittsburgh Pie Guy.

Within the next few weeks, Constellation will have new painted signs and furniture designed to make the space more cozy. Weiland says she hopes to add more retail business and coffee classes in the coming months. Constellation Coffee is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

East End’s Reverse Keg Ride on for Saturday
The East End Brewery will hold its annual Reverse Keg Ride — a bike trek from the OTB Bicycle Café on the South Side to the Brewery’s home in Larimer — this Saturday.

The annual event celebrates the moving of an empty keg of East End’s Pedal Pale Ale from OTB back to the brewery, and ends in the ceremonial tapping of the first keg of its Snow Melt Ale. Registration is available through the event page on East End’s website and costs $20 per rider, with a $25 fee for late registration. The ride is limited to 300 participants and note:  there won’t be a day-of registration.

The convoy will depart OTB at 4 p.m. and arrive back at the brewery around 5:30.

Market Square will host final farmer’s market of the season tomorrow
A smattering of Halloween events will help mark the end of the season for the Market Square Farmer’s Market tomorrow.
Daycare centers will conduct trick-or-treating around the market, booths will be extra spooky and vendors will adorn their favorite Halloween costumes. DJ Soy Sos and local singer-songwriter Jess Sides will provide the daytime entertainment, and instructors from the Arthur Murray Dance School on Sixth Street will do three 10-minute performances during lunch hours.

It will mark the final 2013 installment for the popular Downtown market, which this season, attracted between 8,000 and 10,000 visitors each week.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Amy Weiland, Scott Smith

AIA recognizes local firms for design excellence

The Pittsburgh chapter of the American Institute of Architects announced the winners of its 14th annual design awards competition Thursday during a gala at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Education center in Downtown. Pittsburgh presumptive mayor Bill Peduto presented the awards, which were open to submissions from any members of AIA Pittsburgh or AIA members from across the country who worked on a project within AIA Pittsburgh’s 11-county region of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

For a refresher, here's our slideshow roundup of this year's nominees in Pittsburgh.

The winners are:

People’s Choice Award: IKM Incorporated for St. Clair Outpatient Center
Historic Preservation Award of Excellence: Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Geotel, with Deborah Berke Partners for the 21C Museum Hotel; Strada Architecture for Fourth Avenue Dollar Bank Renovation
Design & Innovation Award of Excellence: Urban Design Build Studio for PURIFLUME
Architectural Detail & Craftsmanship Awards of Excellence: Astorino for St. Thomas A’Becket Church – East Wall; Bohlin Cywinski Jackson for Campus for a Global Entertainment Company – Glass Wall
Young Architects Studio Competition Honor Award: Drew Weinheimer for Light Trail
Interior Architecture Certificates of Merit: EDGE Studio/GBBN Architects for MAYA Design; WTW Architects and Gensler for Reed Smith LLP Office Interiors
Interior Architecture Honor Award: Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Geotel, with Deborah Berke Partners for the 21C Museum Hotel
Green Design Citations: studio d’ARC Architects for SOTA Construction Services, Inc. Office Building; The Design Alliance Architects for Center for Sustainable Landscapes
Green Design Certificate of Merit: Pfaffmann + Associates for Café at the Point
Architecture Honor Awards: DRS Architects, with Sasaki Associates for the Robert M. Smith Student Center; Rothschild Doyno Collaborative for Saint Lespwa Center Of Hope

This year’s jury was comprised of New Orleans AIA members Steve Dumez, Anne Marie Decker and Maurice Cox. Decker was on hand to provide the jury’s comments on its selections.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: AIA Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Public Market reopens in new location

Forced from its space in the old produce terminal and into a new, greener, climate-controlled building, the Pittsburgh Public Market is back up and running at 2401 Penn Avenue, following a soft opening last Wednesday.

“We did the soft opening because the merchants depends on the money as income, but we also thought it was important to get it open,” says Becky Rodgers, executive director of Neighbors in the Strip. “When you go in there, you’ll still see people working on their booths.”

The new Public Market features 25,000 square feet of space, about 10,000 square feet of which are rentable, rendering it just about the same size as the market’s old location, but with greater capability.

The East End Brewery is back to hosting its regular growler hours there, now with eight taps on hand — double the number it had in the old space. Olive oil merchant The Olive Tap will occupy an 1,800-square-foot space in the new building and the market is bringing in several new vendors, including yet-to-be-revealed cheese and wine vendors.

“There are a lot of great merchants in there right now,” Rodger says, adding that she expects around 20 businesses to occupy the space during the week in the market's first year, with more coming in just on weekends.

The new Pittsburgh Public Market will hold a grand opening at the end of November. Until then, the market will maintain the regular hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Becky Rodgers

Pittsburgh Technical Institute opening Energy Technology Center

Pittsburgh Technical Institute will hold the grand opening of its new Energy Technology Center next Thursday, officially cutting the ribbon on the home of the region’s first program geared toward training students for electronics jobs in the energy field.

The center occupies more than 15,000 square feet on PTI’s North Fayette Campus and will house PTI’s programs in HVAC technology, Welding and Oil & Gas Electronics. PTI rolled out the latter two programs earlier this year after working with a cadre of energy companies to assess their positional needs in the industry.

Though the oil and gas electronics program began its first classes earlier this month, George Pry, PTI’s executive vice president, estimates that it will ultimately churn out between 80 and 100 graduates per year, none of whom will have trouble finding jobs.

“There’s a need,” Pry says. “They’ll take as many as they can get out there. It’s where we are today, the same as where we were with the steel industry 80 or 100 years ago. There are very well-paying, middle-class jobs available that we need to fill with our graduates. When we see a need, we go for it.”

Felix Cardella, of TKA Architects, designed the $3.5 million center and Homestead-based Franjo Construction served as the general contractor. It contains nearly $1 million worth of industry-specific equipment, about $750,000 of which was donated by corporate partners.

“It’s filling a very specific need for energy companies,” says Linda Allan, PTI’s director of public relations. “With the exponential growth of the Marcellus Shale exploration and development, all of the supporting industries are benefitting from what’s going on.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: George Pry, Linda Allan

Eat + Drink: tacos, pierogies and all kinds of beer!

Eat & Drink is Pop City's roundup of local epic nomz.

Casa Reyna opens taco stand
Here’s a new game to play with your friends: how far down any one stretch of Penn Avenue do you need to travel before finding a place to buy a great taco?

Whatever the answer was, the distance just got shorter. Casa Reyna, the restaurant sister of Nic DiCio’s Reyna Market in the Strip District opened up a taco stand outside its 2031 Penn Avenue space. The stand will be open daily from 10 a.m. to about 7 p.m., depending on business, year-round.

First annual Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival
A host of local restaurants will converge at South Shore Riverfront Park this Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. to present the inaugural Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival. Vendors will include Bar Marco, BRGR, Franktuary, Marty’s Market and more. Admission to the event is free and all vendors will be cash-only.

To learn more about the first annual Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival, check it out on Twitter or visit its Facebook page.

Pumking at D’s
For those in in the full swing of fall, D’s Six Pax and Dogz in Regent Square will fill its massive tap room with a vast selection of pumpkin beers starting Friday. In addition to pumpkin beers already on tap, D’s will roll out Southern Tier Pumpking not only from this year, but cellar-aged kegs from the previous three years.

“We’ll also have the Southern Tier Warlock, which is a stout made with Pumking. There’ll be a bunch of other pumpkin beers but it’s really about the Pumking,” says D’s Beer Czar Justin “Hootie” Blakey.

Penn Brewery wins at the Great American Beer Festival
Penn Brewery’s Chocolate Meltdown, a chocolate stout which the brewery plans to release this winter, took home a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival this month.

“It was an old homebrew recipe of mine. I brought it in and we scaled it up,” says Nick Rosich, one of Penn’s brewers. “We get all our chocolate from Besty Ann over here in West View. We use that in the kettle, and we use quite a bit of lactose to bring out that milky creaminess. It’s a chocolate milk stout.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Justin Blakey, Nick Rosich

New 'innovation campus' coming to East Liberty

Kit Mueller, co-founder of Rustbuilt and Built In Pittsburgh, plans to buy the building at 6400 Hamilton Avenue in East Liberty and turn it into something he’s calling The Forge — Pittsburgh’s first innovation campus.

“The intent is to provide a framework for all that’s happening in that neck of the woods,” says Mueller.

Each floor in the 98,000 square-foot building is big enough to hold one fairly large company, as well as flexible space for growing companies. The building, which is more than 100 years old and formerly served as a slaughterhouse, will include education and maker space, a rooftop nanotel — living quarters made from recycled shipping containers for use by visiting teachers and innovators — and agritecture, a state-of-the-art operation for sustainable, urban, indoor farming.

The building should be ready for tenants within about 20 months.

“Other rust belt cities are doing this sort of thing, and this will add our own special flavor for what’s going on here in the ‘Burgh,” he says. “This wouldn’t be feasible in some other parts of the city, and we’re glad to be doing it where the rest of the innovation is happening.”

One of the main ideas behind building an innovation campus, Mueller says, is that it would not only provide affordable space for businesses coming out of startup incubators, but that it would have enough space to retain them as they grew and keep them in geographically close like-minded institutions, such as Google, Tech Shop and Thrill Mill.

“You never have to grow out of the building. You come out of the accelerators and grow into a full floor.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Kit Mueller

Old McKees Rocks railroad yard will become new freight facility

CSX Corporation, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based railway transportation conglomerate which owns and operates some 21,000 miles of railroad in the Eastern United States, will build an intermodal facility in McKees Rocks.

The facility, which will be located at the site of the former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Yard, will allow manufacturers in the region more direct access to freight rail, as well as reduce transit costs associated with shipping various products to the region.

“The manufacturing businesses and infrastructure that were built around it 100 years ago are all still in place,” says Taris Vrcek, executive director of the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation. “It fits nicely and it’s directly adjacent to the industrial park we’ve been building.”

The $50 million facility, one of nearly 48 CSX controls nationwide, will occupy some 70 acres and ultimately bring multiple hundreds of jobs to the area. Construction will begin in 2015, with the aim of the intermodal facility opening the following year.

“This kind of impact is even more compelling if you think about how compact lower McKees Rocks is. This facility is going to attract other businesses that want to be near it,” Vrcek says. “The portion of land CSX is going to occupy is kind of narrow, and really doesn’t lend itself to anything else.”

Vrcek added that the eventual impact the facility could have on McKees Rocks could be immeasurable, citing projected positive effects on the area’s Main Street Project and entertainment district, on top of the adjacent 50-acre industrial park which will be ready for construction next year.

“We really feel like we’re creating this mix of old and new Pittsburgh,” he says. “It builds that snowball effect. The prospects for success here are becoming more and more solid.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Taris Vrcek 

Space at 1100 Smallman will be 59 new rental units

The Strip District is re-emerging as a residential neighborhood and developer Brian Schreiber is the latest to get in on the action.

Schreiber and his Shadyside-based Schreiber Real Estate will construct a 59-unit apartment building at 1100 Smallman Street, right where the Strip meets Downtown. The structure, which will stand six stories, will encompass a building Schreiber currently owns at the address in addition to an entirely new structure.

“It’s really within the central business district, so it’s well-suited to people who work there,” Schreiber says.

The complex Schreiber is currently calling 1100 Smallman will contain about 60,000 square feet. About two-thirds of the building will be one-bedroom units, and the other third will be comprised of two-bedroom apartments. Each unit will have one bathroom per bedroom. 1100 Smallman will include on-site parking, exercise facilities, a partial roof garden, community rooms and outdoor deck areas.

Art Lubetz’s Front Studio Architects will serve as the designing firm. The parties haven’t yet agreed on a contractor, and Schreiber says he’ll likely choose a leasing agent by the middle of next year. Schreiber says he anticipates rents at 1100 Smallman to range between $1,400 and $1,800 per month. Lubetz is also designing the condos at nearby 1135 Penn, which will be ready offer significant tax credits and will be ready in a few months.

1100 Smallman will not touch any part of Schreiber’s nearby properties, including the buildings housing popular restaurants Eleven and Lidia’s Pittsburgh

The apartment building is scheduled to be completed by either late winter or early spring of 2015.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Brian Schreiber

Two Downtown Pittsburgh programs garner international recognition

During its World Congress and annual conference in New York City last week, the International Downtown Association recognized a two of Downtown Pittsburgh’s innovative improvement programs.

The Paris to Pittsburgh Sidewalk Activation and Façade Improvement Program received a Downtown Pinnacle Award, and the Peoples Gas Holiday Market claimed a Merit Award. Both programs are the work of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

“The façade program, we were told, was chosen because of its longevity. When you walk around Downtown, it’s easy to see the impact that this program has had,” says PDP spokesperson Leigh White. “In Market Square, there’s hardly a single restaurant which hasn’t taken advantage of Paris to Pittsburgh. It’s definitely changed the face of the city.”

As a Pinnacle Award recipient, the PDP is responsible for producing a webinar on its winning project, and spreading its methods of downtown revival to other cities making to look improvements. That’s nothing new for the PDP, whose staffers are regularly asked to make presentations on Project Pop Up to other downtown associations looking to innovate.

The holiday market, on the other hand, is a relatively new program.

“It was just introduced last winter, and we’re really excited to bring it back this year,” White says. “The whole reason for doing it is that we felt there was a need to have something anchored for the season in Downtown Pittsburgh.”

The holiday market, which serves as a benefit for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, raised $25,000 last year. White anticipates eclipsing that mark this year. The market will open the day after Light Up Night and run an extra week. The PDP plans to more than double the number of participating vendors and make Market Square “feel more like a village,” according to White.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Leigh White

Transit Tales will bring locals' stories from the bus to the stage

Just like the subway in New York City, the metro in Washington, D.C. or the EL in Chicago, if you’ve ever ridden a bus to get from place to place in Pittsburgh, chances are you have a story.

Now, the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group and Pittsburghers for Public Transit are teaming up with Bricolage Production Company to collect and deliver those stories with Transit Tales — a creative project which aims to both entertain and raise awareness about Pittsburgh’s transportation issues.

“There really is a community out there of transit riders. They might not be a close-knit community, but they are a community, and their voices need to be heard because transit is so important to the well-being of our region,” says Chris Sandvig, regional policy director for the PCRG.

Husband-and-wife team Tami Dixon and Jeffrey Carpenter, who run Bricolage, have been collecting stories since the spring. They plan to integrate them into a number of different productions, including their popular Wordplay series, which mixes live storytelling with music mash-ups, and Fifth Wall, which blurs the line between scripted storytelling and current events.

“We always say the bus is the great equalizer,” Dixon says. “You could be sandwiched between a CEO and a homeless person and we’re all travelling together — we can see how we’re all connected."

Carpenter added that Transit Tales won’t be limited to theatrical production. There will be photography exhibits, audiovisual art and collaborations to broadcast transit riders’ stories on local radio.

“In doing a project like this, you have to let the material dictate what the result is,” he says.

“We don’t really think of it this way,” Sandvig added, “but transportation is a human service, and delivery of it is crucial to how we live our lives.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Chris Sandvig, Tami Dixon, Jeffrey Carpenter

Carnegie Robotics expanding into new Lawrenceville facility

Carnegie Robotics, a for-profit outgrowth of the robotics program at Carnegie Mellon University which has operated from a trio of spaces since its inception, will move into a large new space in Lawrenceville next spring.

“It’s a bit of a long project but we’re remodeling a new facility and moving into that,” says John Bares, the company’s president and CEO, adding that the structure would contain new engineering and production facilities.

The 100-year-old Heppenstall Building, located at 4501 Hatfield Street and owned by RIDC, includes three-and-a-half acres of property and will be refitted to suit the company’s needs using various teams of contractors. Its 29,000 square feet will be expanded both through adding floors to the current warehouse and and the addition of a sub-building.

“It’s significant,” Bares says. “We’re spread across three different facilities today. It gives us an instant doubling of facility space and square footage, so that’s wonderful.”

Carnegie Robotics develops technology used in agriculture, mining and defense work. Its primary goal centers around developing robots which can make decisions based on sensory perception.

“We’re on a consistent march and here to stay,” says Bares, who added that while the company looked at space in the greater Pittsburgh area outside the city limits, it settled on the old Lawrenceville warehouse to both stay close to its current partners and to the Carnegie Mellon Campus.

“There’s a huge advantage to us to remain in the city,” he says. “It’s where the great talent is.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: John Bares

AlphaLab Gear, new accelerator, signs lease in East Liberty

AlphaLab Gear, a new accelerator from the South Side-based InnovationWorks program, has signed a lease for space in East Liberty.

Colliers International, the leasing agent for the new East Liberty developments at Indigo Square and the nearby space on Broad Street, confirmed that AlphaLab Gear will occupy 10,000 square feet and its lease includes rights to expand. The space, located at 6024 Broad Street, places it right next door to Thrill Mill and its business incubator, HustleDen, and within close proximity to the Tech Shop and Google’s Pittsburgh headquarters.

“It’s great to have these types of business. If we can mash together enough high-tech, like-minded startup groups, that can start a great tech community in that area,” says Mark Anderson, vice president of office and retail brokerage with Colliers.

AlphaLab Gear is a new accelerator for companies creating hardware, robotics and other physical products, says Terri Glueck of Innovation Works. Their AlphaLab, which is on the South Side, runs two sessions per year, each lasting 20 weeks. During sessions, enrolled entrepreneurs receive $25,000 in investment capital, office space, mentoring and educational sessions to help get their fledgling companies off the ground.

“We were interested from the beginning in having tech companies in the area. It’s good for East Liberty and Pittsburgh as a whole to mass these tech companies in one location,” Anderson added.

Anderson added that the building at the corner of Highland Avenue and Broad Street still has some 9,000 square feet available in retail and office space.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Mark Anderson

Eat + Drink: A harvest dinner at Six Penn, a new sub shop Downtown and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly roundup of local food news.

Downtown gets new sub shop
Penn Station East Coast Subs, which offers hot and cold sandwiches in a fast-casual atmosphere, will open its third Pittsburgh location at 808 Liberty Avenue in Downtown.

The new shop is the latest franchise installment from father-son team Denny and Jon Keidel and partner John Adams. They also own locations on Centre Avenue in Shadyside and William Penn Highway in Monroeville.

Lawrenceville juice bar opening new location
Embody Natural Health, the Upper Lawrenceville juice and smoothie spot from Aimee Woods, will open a second location in Wexford later this month.

In addition to juices and smoothies, the new location will offer nutrition and lifestyle counseling services as well as yoga and fitness classes and acupuncture workshops.

“It’s really been developing and we’re adding on,” says Embody’s Rachel Miller.

Juice Up 412 to hold free tasting
Juice Up 412, the East Liberty-based juice bar which operates out of The Livermore, will hold a free tasting on Monday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eat + Drink profiled Juice Up 412 back in August, and highly recommends trying them out if you haven't already.

Six Penn hosts harvest dinner
To celebrate eight years in business, Six Penn Kitchen will host a special five-course harvest dinner tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m.

The menu, which will include appetizers, cheese and dessert courses, is headlined with entrees of buttered scallops and mussels served with a local corn broth, as well as a short rib course with popcorn grits, grilled squash and port demi-glace.

The dinner is $75, or $50 without wine pairings. Reservations are required, and can be made by calling 412-566-7366.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Rachel Miller

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to "spruce up" its West End branch

One of Pittsburgh’s oldest libraries is getting some major upgrades.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s West End branch will close on October 19th while the 114-year-old building gets some much-needed improvements, including a remodeled first floor, a new slate roof and a climate control system.

“We’re calling it a spruce up,” says CLP Communications Manager Suzanne Thinnes. “People will see and feel a drastic change in the building.”

Headlining the list of other improvements to the library is the installation of central air conditioning. The branch has been forced to close a multiple times during the summer when the heat index made being inside nearly unbearable. The library will also get an elevator, making each floor of the building more accessible to greater numbers of patrons.

While CLP won’t move the West End’s materials collection to a temporary location as it did during building renovation in Lawrenceville, the West End will have a temporary setup at the nearby Library Support Center. West End patrons will be able to request items from other libraries, pick them up and return them at the temporary setup. Additionally, the library’s regular programming and activities, such as children’s story time and history club meetings, will continue at a host of other locations while the building is under construction.

Patrons needing fuller service and resources while the branch is closed are being advised to use CLP’s nearby Sheraden branch until the West End location opens next spring.

“The new space will be comfortable. I think the community will be pleased with it,” Thinnes says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Suzanne Thinnes

The Hill District gets its first new grocery store in 30 years

The Hill District, a once-thriving cultural center which fell on hard times during urban renewal, will mark a major event in its path toward revival next Thursday when it welcomes a Shop ‘n Save into the community.

Located at 1850 Centre Avenue, the 29,500-square-foot supermarket will be the Hill District’s first new grocery store in more than 30 years.

“This is a food-poor area. People here wanted access to fresh food,” says Cheryl Hall-Russell, president and CEO of Hill House Association and the Hill House Economic Development Corporation, which owns the shopping center where the market is located and was instrumental in bringing it to the neighborhood. “People had tired of the conversation of whether or not the neighborhood deserved a grocery store. Food is just a basic need. It’s not about who deserves it.”

After years of negotiating with different chains, Hill House found a willing partner in Jeff Ross, who owns several Shop ‘n Save locations in several of western Pennsylvania’s underserved communities.

“The community wanted a full-service grocery store, and Ross Markets was willing to bring that. It’s a good brand that has a good reputation,” says Hall-Russell, who emphasized that one of the organization’s goals is to unify the Upper, Middle and Lower Hill. “There’s going to be a lot going on down there. I think it’s important that the Hill District be looked at as The Hill District. We’re going to have to work in concert with one another.”

The store will employ 120 people, 60 percent of whom hail from the Hill District. A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place next Thursday, and Hill House will hold a large block party to celebrate on the following Saturday.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Cheryl Hall-Russell

Warhol Museum debuts new first-floor design inspired by the artist's own space

The Andy Warhol Museum, which pays tribute to the life and career of the world’s most famous and influential pop artist, will debut a new look and layout to its first floor area next week in the first of a series of scheduled overhauls.

“The museum didn’t have a lot of visual access between the first floor and the street, and with so many people walking around and going to sporting events, we want to draw people in,” says Patrick Moore, the museum’s deputy director.

The museum’s first floor space has been redone with silver-colored brick to evoke feelings of and pay homage to Warhol’s Manhattan studio, The Silver Factory, which Warhol and his friends lined with tin foil.

“Silver was Andy’s favorite color. The silver brick refers back to his factory and gives people context for the work they’ll see,” Moore says. “It’s meant to evoke that era, which was one of innovation for Warhol.”

In addition to new walls, the museum has nearly quadrupled the size of its book shop, installed a large seating area and opened up two window spaces. The new view of the museum lobby will feature disco balls, music piped out into the street, and a clear view of a portrait of Warhol holding his famous Marilyn Monroe acetate.

“It’s very evocative,” says Moore, adding that the new first floor is just step one in a larger plan. Over the course of the next year, the museum will move its café into the new lobby and re-hang its permanent collection in chronological order as a means of making the museum more biographical of the artist it celebrates.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Patrick Moore

ULI Placemaking awards honors five Pittsburgh projects; Tom Murphy issues a challenge for Pittsburgh

The first Placemaker awards from the Urban Land Institute Pittsburgh, “to celebrate the places that make Pittsburgh great,” were announced last week at a luncheon at the Fairmont in 3 PNC, a building lauded for its excellent design and green features. 

Tom Murphy, former mayor of Pittsburgh, received the 2013 Inaugural Placemaker award and two standing ovations from the crowd of 300—before he spoke and after, when he finished his talk by issuing a challenge to Pittsburgh to never settle for less in design and building.

The ULI PLacemaker award winners are:
  • Award for Excellence, Catalytic Place: Market Square Place
  • Award for Excellence, Visual Place: Point Park University – the Academic Village Initiative The Village Park and Wood Street Corridor Enhancements
  • Award for Excellence, Community Place: East End Cooperative House
  • Award for Excellence, Cool Place: Assemble
ULI Pittsburgh received 38 nominees in the first competition. 

In his talk, Murphy referenced an article in the Washington Post which wondered, "How does it happen that in a Rust Belt city with no money, they built a masterpiece of a stadium? These pundits who write about the lack of economic development with stadiums and arts and culture need to come to Pittsburgh."

And in what Murphy said is the best recognition for the city, his three children “have come back to Pittsburgh because it works for them.

“Don’t settle for ‘it will do,’” he warned. "It’s about the quality of what we build. When people come through that tunnel, there’s a collective wow. Challenge yourself to build to the highest quality. Pittsburgh is on a roll and it will continue to be on a roll only if we challenge ourselves to reach.”

Writer: Tracy Certo
Source: ULI, Tom Murphy

Eat + Drink: Wigle introducing a rum, the Brooklyn Brewery Mash comes to Pittsburgh and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly look at all that's good in local food.

Wigle will release a honey spirit this month
Wigle Whiskey, Pittsburgh’s most popular purveyor of local spirits, will take its first step outside the whiskey realm next Thursday, October 17th, when it releases Landlocked — a rum-type spirit crafted from local, organic buckwheat honey.
When Wigle started kicking around the idea of rolling out a new spirit, they knew they wanted it to be something innovative. Most rum is made from sugar cane or types of molasses.

“A great Pennsylvania alternative to those is honey,” says Wigle’s Meredith Grelli. “We could think of no more exemplary honey to western pa than buckwheat honey. It has a distinctive, earthy quality to it. We started experimenting and playing around, and we really liked what we came up with.”

Wigle had patrons participate in blind taste tests with its new concoction going against similar spirits already on the market. After about six months of tooling around with a recipe, they knew they had something special.

“We knew it was time to take it to market when we were beating out industry leaders in taste testing,” Grellis says.
Wigle will hold two sessions from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and from 8 p.m. to 10 pm. Tickets for both sessions are available through their website.

Brooklyn Brewery brings its MASH to Pittsburgh
The Brooklyn Brewery is taking its show on the road. From October 22-27, the Brooklyn Brewery Mash — a five-day festival of parties, pop-up dinners and most of all, beer.

The Mash will be headquartered at Lawrenceville’s Industry Public House, and will feature events there for the first four days of the festival, including beer and cheese pairings, experimental beer tastings and various other specials.

Other events, including as a multi-course, beer-centric dinner, a farmer’s market workshop and a found footage screening will take place at locales around the city, including the Farmers at Firehouse Market, the Regent Square Theater and a host of different restaurants.

A full schedule of Brooklyn Mash happenings is available on the event’s website.

Duquesne’s Red Ring gets all-season patio
The Red Ring, Duquesne University’s signature restaurant at 1015 Forbes Avenue, will open an enclosed outdoor patio, starting tomorrow. The patio will be able to accommodate 46 customers between seven dining tables and nine cocktail tables.

The area will be lined with a full-length cloth awning and feature clear, roll-down vinyl along the perimeter. Radiant heaters for use during cold weather will make the space usable year-round.

Worth tasting
Love the flavors of fall but dislike big chain coffeeshops? Pop City heartily recommends heading to Marty's Market, where the coffee bar is serving up Maple & Clove lattes. They're incredibly delicious.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Meredith Grelli

Pittsburgh-based medical relief agency will open new headquarters with festive community day

When Global Links celebrates its 25th anniversary this month, it will do so in a new space. The Pittsburgh-based non-profit which refurbishes and distributes surplus medical equipment to programs and hospitals in need will hold the grand opening of its new headquarters this Friday, followed by a Green Tree community day on Saturday.

Until this summer, Global Links operated from a Garfield volunteer center and a pair of Homewood warehouses, but co-founder Kathleen Hower had been long seeking an upgrade. Global Links relies very heavily on volunteer efforts, and the cost of hauling items between different locations was expensive.

“Oh my gosh, I’d looked for so many years,” Hower says. “It had to meet our needs, but also be something that we could afford. It was always one thing or another that we couldn’t do.”

She found it at 700 Trumbull Drive in Green Tree, where Global Links has consolidated its entire operation into 58,000 square-feet of warehouse space, offices and a new volunteer center which will open Friday.

“It changes everything. It’ll allow us to do so much more in a more efficient way, and bring more people into the organization,” says Hower, adding that Global Links culled around 10,000 volunteer hours from 2,000 people last year. “Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization. We’re looking forward to getting them back.”

The grand opening ceremony will occur Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and include building tours, food trucks and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Saturday’s community day, which will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will include a plethora of activities and vendors, performances by Attack Theatre and food trucks from Bella Christie, Nakama, the Pittsburgh Taco Truck, Street Foods and Randita’s Grill.

For a complete list of events, vendors, speakers and tour schedules, check out the event page on the company’s website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Kathleen Hower

Pirates' winning season has generated nearly $200 million for local economy

VisitPittsburgh estimates the Pirates’ first winning season in 21 years brought about $200 million in direct spending to the local economy. That figure includes ticket sales, concessions, hotel rooms and outside-the-park spending on retail and meals.

VisitPittsburgh arrived at the figure through applying its own formulas to financial information the Pirates voluntarily shared with the local tourism organization.

“The average game brings about $2.5 million to the city,” says VisitPittsburgh President and CEO Craig Davis. “Because the figure reflects ticket sales, we collected a lot of zip code information from 100 miles away or more. That often means a night in a hotel.”

Of all the fans who attended games at PNC Park this year, about 19 percent were from at least 100 miles away. While there were no available figures to project the impact of a playoff game, Davis anticipates it would bring more than just the $2.5 million per-game average.

Despite their sudden turnaround, the Pirates ranked 19 out of 30 teams in Major League Baseball attendance this year, drawing an average of 28,210 fans per game and a total of 2,256,862. They sold out PNC Park a record 23 times.
On a per-game basis, they still don’t touch the Steelers. But baseball teams play 81 home games compared to football’s ten.

According to figures VisitPittsburgh released in 2011, the Steelers’ divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens that January generated about $19.2 million in direct spending. Even applying that generous figure to an entire season’s worth of football games shows the Pirates generate more per season in direct spending for the local economy than their North Shore neighbors.

However, Davis adds that some of the economic impact sporting events have on the economy depends on when they occur.
“There are periods during the year when they don’t have as much of an impact. If there are already things buzzing in the city, it’s a lower-impact thing,” he says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Craig Davis

Pittsburgh StepTrek will showcase step preservation in the South Side Slopes

While it’s known far and wide as the City of Bridges, Pittsburgh has more sets of stairs than any other city in the country. And no Pittsburgh neighborhood has more stairs than the South Side Slopes.

From noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) will host their 13th annual StepTrek —a stair-centric day featuring a pair of self-guided step tours, food trucks, an artists’ marketplace and more than enough water to keep you hydrated on your hike.

As usual, StepTrek will feature a pair of routes — black and gold — for trekkers seeking differing degrees of difficulty, and SSSNA volunteers have been working for weeks to clear the paths.

“There were two different sets of steps which were completely overgrown [with vegetation]. We’ve cleared them and both of those will be on the gold route, which will be the more difficult one this year,” says SSSNA President Brian Oswald.
The Slopes are home to 68 of Pittsburgh’s 712 staircases, many of which haven’t been maintained in years. Oswald says he understands that the city doesn’t always have the money to fix the steps, but that his organization does what it can to showcase them and keep them up.

StepTrek is meant to offer participants views of the city they’ve never seen before while taking them through the ins and outs of one of Pittsburgh’s most topographically and architecturally interesting neighborhoods.

“The most frequent response we hear every year is, ‘I had no idea this was here,’” Oswald says.

In addition to a pair of routes, participants can engage with an orienteering course, designed in collaboration with the Western Pennsylvania Orienteering Club, and a smartphone app which describes the history of landmarks along the steps.

South Side Park, located at Josephine and 21st Streets, will serve as StepTrek's hub. Tickets for StepTrek are $12 in advance and $15 the day of. Advanced tickets may be purchased through Showclix.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Briand Oswald

Eat + Drink: Pamela's owners launching 'modern Jewish deli,' Legume's new lunch hours and much more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly look at all the news that's fit to eat and/or drink.

Pamela’s founders bringing an old-world Jewish deli to Squirrel Hill.
An eat-in, modern Jewish deli will open in Squirrel Hill next month. Nu (from the Yiddish interjection for “well?” or “so?”) will occupy the space formerly held by Pamela’s sister restaurant Aji Picante at 1711 Murray Avenue, which held its last dinner service on Saturday night.

In addition to new twists on traditional Jewish fare, such as homemade pickles and matzo ball soup, Nu will smoke and hand-carve all its own meats. It will also have its own line and workspace, rather than share a kitchen with Pamela’s, as Aji Picante did. The sit-down restaurant will retain Aji’s outdoor seating, but won’t have any cases, nor will it sell deli meats.

“It’s going to be a little upscale looking, but not expensive,” says Pamela’s co-owner Gail Klingensmith, adding that executive chef Kelsey Sukel and co-owner Pam Cohen’s sister Rise’ will operate the restaurant.

“This is a family passion. It’s a slice of Americana, and it’s our history,” says Klingensmith, adding that Nu, which she projects will open around October 15th, will probably operate 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. “We’re old girls, but we can still make it to eight.”

Legume now open for lunch
The popular, locally sourced Oakland bistro has begun a lunch service that will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The menu, which will change every day, will include small plates, sandwiches and salads. Also, we hear the chocolate mousse cake is a legitimate slice of heaven on Earth.

“Steel Town” filmmakers holding fundraiser at Bar Marco
Steel Town,” a live-action, short film currently in pre-production that tells the story of the Homestead Steel Strike, will host a fundraiser and live table read at Bar Marco next Wednesday, October 2nd, at 6 p.m.

Carnegie Mellon alumni Nick Hurt and Yulin Kuang wrote the screenplay, and Hurt will direct when principal photography begins in November. The fundraiser’s host committee includes city councilmen Bruce Kraus and Bill Peduto, as well as State Representative Erin Molchany.

You can RSVP for the event by calling Producer Dan Vetanovetz at 937-243-1518, or e-mailing steeltownmovie@gmail.com. The producers of “Steel Town" are also operating a Kickstarter campaign that has just nine days remaining.

Pittsburgh Opera will perform at Downtown Farmers’ Market
Puccini, Rossini and Bizet aren’t varieties of mushrooms, but they’ll nonetheless be featured during each of the next three Market Square Farmers’ Markets.

The Pittsburgh Opera will perform tomorrow, October 3rd and October 10th between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., to celebrate the arrival of fall and the Opera’s 75th season. Lunchtime concerts have long been a staple of Market Square, and this marks the Opera’s first appearance in the series.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Gail Klingensmith, Dan Ventanovetz

Bike Pittsburgh unveils vision for 'Better Bikeways'

Released last week, Bike Pittsburgh’s Better Bikeways Vision proposes a series of six interconnected, bicycle-friendly corridors that could fundamentally transform transportation and commuting in Pittsburgh.

“We need to build a network of bikeways that are easy to navigate and feel comfortable to navigate for anyone, regardless of how long they’ve been biking or how in shape they are,” says Bike Pittsburgh Executive Director Scott Bricker. “It has to be appealing to ride on. It has to make sense as a navigational tool, but it has to look and feel safe, and it has to be interconnected.”

The plan proposes the creation of six bike corridors around the city: the East End Bikeway, the River to River Bikeway, the Allegheny Green Boulevard, the Golden Triangle Bikeway, the Fifth & Forbes Bikeway and the Airport to City Bikeway. While they would each be separate projects and Bike Pittsburgh does not have cost estimates for the whole plan, Bricker says his organization is focused on having the entire plan finished or on the way by 2020.

Pittsburgh’s bike culture has grown substantially over the last 10 years, but according to Bricker, its infrastructure is still far behind those in cities such as Seattle, Portland, Memphis, Chicago and San Francisco.

“We can light our trails, we can stripe them and make them commuter oriented,” he says. “It’s hard to sort of shoehorn commuting into it. If you design them with commuting in mind, people can recreate on them just fine. It’s just an option that requires some more tools.

Bike Pittsburgh’s vision is predicated on standards set by the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ Urban Bikeway Design Guide. Federally approved earlier this year, the NACTO guide lays out a series of recommendations and best practices for creating bicycle-friendly infrastructure in urban environments.

Still, there’s room for innovation. The tools NACTO guide provides for separating bikes from cars don’t work particularly well on steep hills.

“We’re trying to figure out better tools for hillsides,” Bricker says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Scott Bricker

Night Market VI will be Pittsburgh's largest yet

Come for the 40-foot-tall rubber duck, stay for a healthy dose of local food and art. The sixth edition of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Night Market will coincide with the Rubber Duck Bridge Party, and will take place on Friday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. on the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

“It’s going to be more than twice the size of the previous Night Markets,” says PDP President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup. “We keep saying we’re out of space, and then someone says, ‘well, what about this?’ and we’re all, ‘oh, all right!’”

Night Market VI will have at least 70 vendors — more than double the 27 from its previous high. They’ll range from Pittsburgh-based artists and crafters to local jewelers, screen printers, furniture stores and, of course, restaurants. Among the food vendors, you’ll find Allegheny City Smokehouse, Meat & Potatoes, AJ’s Inca Peruvian Restaurant, BRGR, Lomito Truck, Crafwork Kitchen, the Big Y Restaurant Group and Zeke’s Coffee.
Among the many boutique vendors will be Pavement, Townhouse, Erra Creations, DeadBuryDead and Steel City Cotton Works.
You can find a full list of vendors on the PDP's event page.

“And you know it doesn’t get more scenic than with a 40-foot duck,” Waldrup says.

This sixth installation will put a cap on the Night Market series, which this year has coincided with Pittsburgh’s monthly gallery crawls. At the same time, Waldrup isn’t ruling out a sudden, cold-weather return.

“If something tremendous were to happen…If the Pirates go to the World Series, we could pop back up,” he says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jeremy Waldrup

Yo Bro brings socially conscious fashions for little dudes to Lawrenceville

Marybeth Mahoney and Lori Sipes are moms on a mission. That mission: introduce a trendy line of boys’ fashions that helps raise money for charity.

“We wanted to design something affordable and cool,” Sipes says. “A lot of children’s clothing stores are 75 percent girls’ clothing and 25 percent boys’, but the boys’ designs tend to be kind of cheesy.”

Late last year, they launched Yo Bro Apparel. And what started as an exclusively internet business has taken root at 3818 Butler Street in Lawrenceville. Yo Bro launched its first brick-and-mortar operation as a pop-up store, which ran from January of last year to February of this year. It became a permanent fixture earlier this month.

“We decided that we wanted to do something where we could donate portions of profits to children’s charities. We wanted to do something that allowed us to give back,” Sipes says.

For the rest of this year and most of next year, Yo Bro will donate 10 percent of its profits to the Noah Angelici Hope Foundation. After that, it will contribute to a different children’s charity during the spring/summer and fall/winter seasons.
Yo Bro is also among a host of Pittsburgh businesses featured in the PBS documentary series “Start Up,” which will air in Pittsburgh later this year.

“We do all the designs ourselves, and it’s all imprintable apparel,” says Sipes, adding that they get their materials from American wholesalers and employ a local screen printer. “We’re kinda scrappy and trying to do everything ourselves.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Lori Sipes

Eat + Drink: The 61B Cafe, Smorgasburgh, an end-of-summer dinner

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly news roundup on the food scene.

61B Café opens in Regent Square
The long-awaited sister store of Squirrel Hill’s popular 61C Café opened in Regent Square last Wednesday. The 61B Café, which sits on the bus line of the same name, is located at 1108 South Braddock Avenue in the space which formerly held Katerbean, which closed last November.

The 61B Café’s opening, which was supposed to occur last spring, was delayed due to a prolonged remodeling process. The café is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Smorgasburgh: Pittsburgh's first food-exclusive flea market
A plethora of coffee shops, restaurants, markets and specialty grocers will take part in Smorgasburgh, a pop-up food market in the Strip District on September 21st.

Organized by Michael McAllister and Kit Mueller and based on the food-exclusive Brooklyn flea market (minus the "h"), Smorgasburgh will take place in the parking lot across from Marty’s Market at 2301 Smallman Street, and run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We do kind of see it as something that we can do every four to six weeks,” McAllister says, adding that he thinks there will be another one organized before Thanksgiving.

Participants include: The Crested Duck, Meat & Potatoes, Marty’s Market, Olive & Marlowe, Klayvon’s Ice Cream, Wild Purveyors, Bluebird Kitchen, The Pop Stop, Bedillion Honey Farm, Good L’Oven Bakery, Tamari, The Livermore, Pastitsio, Drew’s Pie Supply, Franktuary, Fukuda, Espresso a Mano and Zeke’s Coffee. The event is BYOB, but PortaKeg will be on-hand with beer from Full Pint.

Low Country Boil at Bayardstown tonight!
Urbanist Guide is teaming up Chef Kate Romane of Highland Park’s e2 for an old-fashioned Lowcountry shrimp boil tonight at Bayardstown Social Club in the Strip District. The traditional southern summer sendoff will include shrimp, corn, potatoes, sausage and Old Bay, along with salad, tomatoes, green beans, bread and a house-made hot sauce. The event is BYOB. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through Showclix.

Oktoberfest at Penn Brewery
The Penn Brewery, located in Troy Hill, will host its annual Oktoberfest celebration both this and next weekend. 

It will run from 5 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. 

For a complete schedule of events, visit the brewery's website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Michael McAllister

Developer finalizing plans for luxury rentals on Mt. Washington

The long-discussed plans for One Grandview, a new development on the Mt. Washington site which once held the Edge restaurant and has been vacant for more than 30 years, are moving forward.

Developer Beau Beemsterboer says that the 4-acre space at Grandview Avenue and Wyoming Street will include about 300 multi-family luxury rental units, a restaurant space, a parking garage and some kind of publicly accessible space.

“We’ve got a design direction, we’ve got a program, we’ve got a look and a feel to it,” he says, adding that a majority of the units will be one- and two-bedroom apartments, but that there will be a small number of three-bedroom and studio units in the 400,000 square-foot space. “There’s going to be a public component to it — a way for people who come here to engage with the space. I want to have a feature which allows the community and the city and the tourists to come interact and be a part of the whole thing.”

Beemsterboer says he’s not yet sure what such a public feature might include, but that the view from Mt. Washington would be prominently featured, and added that the site's design will be "iconic."

“We’re trying to push the envelope with the design,” he says.

Terry Oden of Desmone & Associates Architects, which is designing One Grandview, says that the development will be a multi-building complex.

Construction on One Grandview could begin as soon as spring of 2014. Beemsterboer would not comment on the hiring of a contractor to build the space.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Beau Beemsterboer, Terry Oden

Downtown's Market Square is getting a market

After months of talks and speculation, developer Ralph Falbo and three other partners signed a lease for the Thompson Building at 435 Market Street and will open a grocery store in the space.

Falbo is partnering with Ernie and Julian Vallozzi, of Vallozzi’s, and David Priselac, Jr. to run the project, which will see construction begin as soon as later this month when the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation finishes restoring the building’s exterior.

The market will offer fresh produce, a butcher, a seafood section and a wide array of prepared foods prepared in an on-site kitchen which will be available for takeout.

“It will be food-specific with a little bit of a lean toward Italian products,” says Julian Vallozzi who is hesitant to call it a grocery store for fear people will compare it to a supermarket. “We will have some specialty grocery items — niche products that you won’t see other places," he explains.

In addition to offering a selection of bottled wines, the store will contain a separate area with a full bar operating on the liquor license retained from restaurant which previously occupied the building. Falbo and Vallozzi say they see the area operating mainly as a wine bar, offering a diverse selection of bottles and small plates from the kitchen.

“I want to get into a good wine selection,” says Falbo, adding that he’d like to use the space to hold wine-tasting events.
Falbo anticipates that once a layout is complete and approved, construction should take about four months.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Ralph Falbo, Julian Vallozzi

Two cool art shops in East Liberty

Local art blogger will curate boutique's fist anniversary
Two years ago while running a high-end art gallery in Boston, Norah Guignon started an art blog called curate 1k. Her mission was simple: every week, find a collection of artwork being sold online for $1,000 or less.

“I think the idea of an affordable piece of art really appeals to people,” Guignon says. “I’m showing an affordable range of artwork online and helping new collectors to get started.”

Later this month, the blog will jump off the net and into the space at The Shop in East Liberty, located at 214 North Highland, to help celebrate the boutique’s first anniversary.

Guignon has selected a series of paintings by Athens, Ga.-based artist Britt Bass, which will be available at the shop beginning September 28th, and running through the winter holidays.

“She does abstract paintings with really bold, beautiful colors,” Guignon says of Bass.

The collection will also feature limited-edition prints exclusive to the event.

Townhouse
“I really like things that are well-designed, but I’m not at a point in my life where dropping several thousand dollars on a chair is really an option,” says Michael McAllister.

He’s not alone. That’s why McAllister’s Epic Development partnered with The Shop in East Liberty, Weisshouse and The Beauty Shoppe to create Townhouse —a pop-up furniture and housewares store which offers locals access to stylish items at an affordable price point.

“It’s a mix of these larger production brands and things which are locally made,” McAllister says.

It has both regular hours and a calendar of special events, the next of which starts tomorrow when it hosts local t-shirt brand deadburydead for a custom trunk sale which will run through September 21st.

Located at 6016 Penn Avenue, Townhouse will be open through the end of the year.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Norah Guignon, Michael McAllister

PARK(ing) Day asks us to rethink our use of urban spaces

This Friday, September 20th, participants will be taking to the streets, or parking lots rather, in celebration of the 6th annual PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh. The event, which promotes reconsidering the way we use our urban spaces, will find short-term parks and installations where gray parking spaces normally stand in many Pittsburgh neighborhoods.
 
San Francisco-based group Rebar launched the now worldwide PARK(ing) Day event in 2005 after deciding to turn an urban parking spot into a community green space for the two hours on their meter.
 
There are currently 18 participants registered for Pittsburgh’s chapter of the event, from a space to be designed by Lawrenceville United to one by the Carnegie Library on the South Side.
 
“I am really excited to see what Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville does. They are doing a pop-up, drive-in movie theatre, which should be really neat,” says Sara Innamorato, one of the volunteers for PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh.
 
PARK(ing) is easy and fun, especially when the main goal is to make a space better-suited for the urban community. To park, simply find and register a spot, be aware of the parking limitations, design the space and appreciate the urban mini-park.
 
An interactive map on the PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh website shows the exact locations and times of each registered PARK(ing) space in the city, as well as maps of the temporary parks from previous years.
 
Innamorato says that the annual event hopes to inspire more eco-friendly and community-oriented infrastructure.

“They should be just as important in urban planning just as traffic flow and parking plans for motor vehicles,” she notes. “It's about quality of life for people living in urban areas.”
 
Be sure to stop by one of the many PARK(ing) spaces in Pittsburgh this Friday.
 
Writer: Maeve McAllister, Pop City intern
Source: Sara Innamorato, volunteer PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh
 

Eat + Drink: Peet's Coffee in Pittsburgh, Cocktail Week, America's largest native fruit

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly glance at the finest in local epic nomz.

Peet’s Coffee coming to Pittsburgh
Peet’s Coffee & Tea, the San Francisco Bay area-based coffee roaster and retailer whose coffee has a near-religious following on the west coast, is set to open its first Pittsburgh stores.

Peet’s will take over the locations of the former Caribou Coffee shops in Oakland, the South Side, Brentwood and the Waterworks Mall, near Aspinwall.

According to Gary Wilson, a principal with the development firm of Langholz Wilson Ellis, which owns the site of the recently closed Caribou Coffee in Oakland, the developers are in the process of approving plans now. Wilson did not give a timetable for the Oakland location’s opening.

Peet’s products aren’t entirely new to the region. Giant Eagle has carried various Peet’s blends for several years.

Eat + Drink heartily recommends giving the House Blend a shot. Fans of darker roasts are likely to enjoy the full-bodied Major Dickason’s Blend.

Pittsburgh Cocktail Week
A cadre of bars and restaurants will participate in the first annual Pittsburgh Cocktail Week, which will run from September 16th through the 22nd.

Cocktail Week will include everything from tequila classes at Verde to ice-carving sessions at The Livermore, will run from September 16th through the 22nd.

A list of Cocktail Week events, still being updated, is available on the event’s website.

Paw paw tasting
The paw paw is often described as a cross between a banana and a mango. It’s the largest edible fruit native to the United States, yet most people have never even heard of it. Andy Moore is looking to change that.

“It’s native to 25 or 26 states in the eastern United States, and it’s virtually unheard of,” Moore says. “How does something that’s this ubiquitous get overlooked?”

Moore, a former Pop City staffer, is looking to answer that question and others, as he travels around the country to research the history of the paw paw for a book he’s working on. To help raise money to finance his research and travels, Moore will host a paw paw tasting event Thursday, September 19th at 7:30 p.m. at Buena Vista Coffee on the North Side.

Attendees will learn about the paw paw, and have the opportunity to sample a variety of paw paw-inclusive foods, including ice cream, cupcakes, and the raw flesh of the fruit itself.

Those attending will also receive paw paw seeds from which to grown their own paw paw trees, and Moore plans to raffle off a pair of paw paw trees to one lucky participant.

Tickets for the event are $40 and may be reserved by calling 407-967-3519, or e-mailing Moore.

You can follow his paw paw adventures on Twitter @thepawpawbook.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Gary Wilson, Andrew Moore

Meet Hop Farm, Lawrenceville's newest craft brewery

Lawrenceville will get its second craft brewery of the summer within the next two weeks when Hop Farm Brewing Company opens the doors to its 4,700 square-foot space at 5601 Butler Street.

“This is the first time I’ve done this,” says Hop Farm founder Matt Gouwens. “It’s a big undertaking.”

Gouwens, who worked as a web and graphic designer before deciding to start a brewery, has been operating as a home brewer for the last five years, growing different varieties of hops in his yard.

When he decided to go commercial, he knew he couldn’t grow all of his own hops, and wanted to add a local spin to his product.

“I thought, ‘why not get a farmer involved in this?’” says Gouwens.

Hop Farm’s hops will come from an actual hop farm that’s currently being set up in Cranberry Township.
When he opens for business later this month, Gouwens says he’ll have a selection of three beers — a saison, a nut brown and naturally, an IPA.

“Our plan after that is getting into a Russian Imperial Stout and aging it in some bourbon barrels,” says Gouwens.

Hop Farm’s beers will initially be available only in growlers, but Gouwens says he will begin canning them once the government approves his label.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Matt Gouwens

New single-screen movie theater will cater to Pittsburgh's film buffs

Brian Mendelssohn has always dreamed of opening an old-timey movie theater. When he came across the space at 4115 Butler Street in Lawrenceville, he knew he’d found his location.

“When this building came along, it felt so right,” says Mendelssohn, a principal with Lawrenceville’s Botero Development. “It’s a single-screen neighborhood movie theater, as if we were opening this up in the 1920s. It’s going to have an intimate feel with modern amenities. We’re trying to imagine what it would look like if Bette Davis designed it.”

Construction is about 65 percent complete on Row House Cinema, a single-screen theater for all breeds of film buffs, which is slated to open in December.

In addition to modern amenities such as stadium seating, a state-of-the-art sound system, completely digital projection and gourmet concessions, the theater will have something entirely new to Pittsburgh.

The adjoining building will house sister business Atlas Bottle Works, which Mendelssohn aims to make “the best beer store in Western Pennsylvania.”

Moviegoers will have the option of buying draft beer at the theater’s concession stand or choosing from the expansive selection next door. Atlas Bottle Works will start out carrying 500 varieties of beer — no macrobrews — and the selection will expand from there.

As for the theater, don’t go to Row House expecting any first-run movies.

“We’re trying to do a new business model we’re calling marathon programming,” Mendelssohn says. Screenings at Row House will revolve around genres, themes and directors. Showings, he says, will occur in back-to-back marathon format (like a single-day “Lord of the Rings” marathon), or over the course of several days, and will touch on everything from sci-fi, horror and zombie films to popular directors, such as the Coen Brothers and Alfred Hitchcock.

The theater, which will seat about 90 people, will also host Q&A and discussion sessions with people from all reaches of the movie industry.

Row House Cinema is currently staging an indiegogo campaign to help cover the costs of installing its picture and sound systems, and rewards for donors, which include choosing movies to be screened, show that local movie fans’ voices will be heard when it comes to programming.

“The community will have a strong influence about who we are and what we’re doing,” Mendelssohn added. “If we had a tagline,” Mendelssohn says, “it would be, ‘Like Netflix, only curated.’”

You can follow Row House Cinema’s progress on Facebook and Twitter.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Brian Mendelssohn

Mt. Washington's Saddle Trail will hold grand opening Sunday

The Saddle Trail Head, a small but beautiful segment of the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation’s grand plan to develop the 257-acre Emerald View Park, is complete, and the MWCDC will hold a grand opening on Sunday.

The trail head, which starts halfway down the perilously steep and windy Sycamore Street, will have limited parking on the right side of the road, and, crossing William Street, will connect to trails which lead into Grandview Park.

“In the fall, there are going to be beautiful views of Downtown and the rivers from further east along the ridge,” says Ilyssa Manspeizer, the MWCDC’s director of park development and conservation, who is overseeing the redevelopment of Mt. Washington’s trail system with the help of the Emerald Trail Corps. “The whole thing is less than a mile, but it’s a hike.”

Sunday’s festivities will start at 2:45 p.m. in Grandview Park, located at 499 Bailey Avenue. From there, hikers will be shuttled over to the trail head on Sycamore Street for a guided tour, which will lead back to Grandview Park.

Timbeleza, a Brazilian drum troupe, will play along the guided hike, and refreshments will be available at 4 p.m. in Grandview Park when the hike ends.

The trails in the Mt. Washington Park section of the Emerald View Park, which the MWCDC and Trail Corps previewed to the media and local leaders two weeks ago, will wrap around the mountain from the heart of Mt. Washington to Grandview Park in Allentown.

Manspeizer says that volunteers have removed nearly 100,000 pounds of garbage from these trails over the last six years, and that they’ll be ready for their own grand opening at some point in October.

In the meantime, all of the trails remain open to the public.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Ilyssa Manspeizer

Eat + Drink: Spirits in the Strip and a Party at the Pier

Eat + Drink is...well, this week, it's just about drinks.

Wigle Whiskey will introduce organic bitters

After just a year of hand-crafting small-batch spirits, Wigle Whiskey will launch its first line of bitters next month with a September 13th release party at their distillery in the Strip District.

Chris Kuhn of Social at Bakery Square and Wes Shonk of Meat & Potatoes outgrowth Butcher and The Rye have each created specialty cocktails designed to showcase Wigle’s first two varieties of bitters, Aromatic and Rosemary Lavender. Both will be available at the party, along with small plates and a very particular kind of art exhibit.

“The Allegheny Highlands Botanical Art Society has illustrated all of the botanicals that we used in the bitters,” says Wigle co-owner Meredith Grelli. The society’s works will be on display, as will some of the actual plants Wigle used to craft the bitters, thanks to the Phipps Conservancy.

Grelli says that because the federal government treats bitters as a category apart from other alcohol products, an entirely different set of “nice, easy standards” applies. While bitters typically include certain chemicals, such as dyes or acids, Wigle’s bitters are entirely organic.

“Since we’re using whole, real botanicals, it’s been a six-month process of their lab doing tests to certify that people wouldn’t be able to drink it on its own,” Grelli says.

Wigle plans to release two new varieties of bitters in the Spring of 2014.

Maggie’s Farm Rum distillery coming to the Strip District
Between whiskey makers, wineries and breweries large and small, what more could Pittsburgh possibly want from its alcohol culture?

“There’s nobody making rum or brandy here right now,” says Tim Russell. “I don’t think there are any good American-made rums available to people in Pennsylvania. The state stores have the Caribbean products, and that’s about it.”

Russell is aiming to change that. His company, Allegheny Distilling, LLC, is set to begin making Maggie’s Farm Rum within the next month in his distillery at 3212A Smallman Street.

“Right now, the equipment is in place. I need to get a small ventilation system for my still,” says Russell, who’s already been approved for state and federal permits. “Other than that, we should be able to start production in a couple of weeks.”

Russell says production at Maggie’s Farm will start with white rum, but that he hopes to also produce a few varieties of brandy. He also says that within the next few months, he hopes to add a cocktail bar and a tasting room to the distillery.

Riverlife's Party at the Pier
Looking for something fun to do next Friday? Riverlife is hosting its annual Party at the Pier at the North Shore Riverfront Ampitheater.

The evening of dining, drinking and dancing features fresh local food, signature cocktails and music from DJ Espy. There will be 20-minute boat rides aboard the Gateway Clipper at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., as well as firedancing performances. 

If you're looking to get to one more great party on the water before summer's over, we heartily suggest checking this out.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Meredith Grelli, Tim Russell

Concert and community picnic add a neighborhood feel to McKees Rocks 5k race

McKees Rocks is always looking to improve its annual Run Your Rox Off 5K.

“The 5K is our signature event,” says Taris Vrcek, executive director of the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation. “Most of our runners come from outside the community, so we’ve had a nice reach in attracting people from all over the region. Each year we try to have something new and different.”

This year’s incarnation will take place Friday evening at the Miles Bryan School at 1125 Wayne Avenue in McKees Rocks, and include a community picnic and a concert in the large green space next to the school.

“It’s all outdoors, which is great because you have these beautiful, immense trees and this fantastic view,” Vrcek says. “It’s a really special setting for an event like this — just a really neat place.”

The race, which winds its way through several McKees Rocks-area residential neighborhoods, is unlike any other in the area.

“This is a challenging course because of some of the hills we have here,” Vrcek says. “A lot of the folks who live in the area will come out and cheer on the runners, and that’s not something you get with a lot of 5Ks.”

In keeping with the neighborhood’s theme, top finishers receive rocks emblazoned with plaques in lieu of medals.

The picnic, which will begin at 6 p.m., will feature food from local restaurants -- including Pierogies Plus, Mancini's Bakery, Silverstar Meats, 5 Generation Bakers and Mama Lena Pizza -- music and family-oriented entertainment.

The concert will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a set by hip-hop artist and McKees Rocks native Terence Austin. Country artist Dawn Savage will perform at 7 p.m., and following the race awards ceremony, local jazz outfit George Heid III Trio will perform from 8 to 10 p.m.

Runners may register for the race on the event’s website or in-person prior to the event on Friday.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Tavis Vrcek

Juice Up 412 expands its mission to democratize healthy food

“How do you make it something that someone would want to drink if they weren’t already interested in health?”

That’s what Majestic Lane and his partners at Juice Up 412 —self-described “juice evangelists” — ask themselves nearly every day.

“Our goal is to get folks to be more conscious about what they’re eating,” Lane says. “We’re interested in bringing juices to populations where health and wellness are not seen as priorities.”

So far, that ambition has taken Juice Up 412 from a stand in the Strip District into a series of partnerships with community organizations and non-profits. They were awarded an Awesome Pittsburgh grant last year, and have since partnered with Bar Marco’s new East Liberty venture, The Livermore, to establish a permanent presence.

Just as Bar Marco is democratizing food, Lane says, he and his partners are looking to do the same for health and wellness.

“We’re looking to get into different neighborhoods,” says Lane, who likes the idea of having pop-up juice bars in underserved communities, not only to expose underserved populations to healthy options which taste good, but to get kids interested in taking their health seriously. “We want to be on the cutting edge of social innovation and enterprise, especially in communities that don’t have things like that happen.”

On September 14th and 15th, Juice Up 412 will take its operation to the Thelma Lovette YMCA in the Hill District, where they’ll serve up fresh juice as a part of State Representative Jake Wheatley’s Health and Wellness Weekend.

To learn more about Juice Up 412, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Majestic Lane

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: Two long-awaited openings and the return of a local brunch favorite

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly look at all the news that's fit to eat.

The Livermore opens today!
Following a soft opening last Friday that co-owner Bobby Fry described as “madness,” The Livermore, a long-awaited cocktail-café spot from the forces behind Bar Marco, will officially open its doors to the public today.

On top of a selection of craft cocktails that Fry says will always differ from the ones on the menu at Bar Marco, The Livermore will offer a variety of traditional cocktails, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages at lower price points.

Additionally, Juice UP 412, which creates special fruit and vegetable juice blends on weekends at Bar Marco, will expand its operation into the new space.

The Livermore will also offer small plates and lunch service, including appetizers, salads, sandwiches and a variety of house-made crostini, with no item priced higher than seven dollars.

The bar, crafted from a repurposed bowling alley the owners hauled to Pittsburgh from Ashtabula, Ohio, provides both customers and workers with ample space, and may be one of the best-designed in the city.

The Livermore will be open Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Also opening today? Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room
The artisan pizza and beer joint held its soft opening party on Monday evening, and the Proper Brick Oven’s pizza proved worth the wait.

You can never go wrong with a classic Margherita — Proper does theirs with house-made mozzarella, fresh basil and San Marzano tomatoes — but the real surprise was the Black & Gold pizza, topped with crispy Yukon gold potatoes, roasted gold beets, roasted garlic spread, cracked black pepper, olive oil and Pecorino-Romano.

Proper’s selection of 30 American craft beers — 19 of which are from Pennsylvania-based breweries — offer enough variety to please everyone from casual pilsner drinkers to hopheads and Belgian fans (development news was delighted to find North Coast’s Brother Thelonious on tap, while the boss stuck to her IPAs).

Salt of the Earth revives ramen brunch
Kevin Sousa’s Salt of the Earth in Garfield will revive its popular ramen brunch on the third Sunday of each month.

“We’d had a decent run with it, and in the vein of everything else we do here, we wanted to keep things fresh,” says Salt chef Chad Townsend. “We wanted to explore some other options.”

Still, Townsend says that public demand for the ramen brunch contributed to its return.

“Now that it’s starting to get to get to the end of the summer and we’re going to be getting into some cold months, it seemed like a good cold-weather dish,” Townsend says.

Salt will offer a pork ramen for $18 and a seitan option for $16.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Bobby Fry, Chad Townsend

Local artist James Simon will unveil new mosaic mural in Uptown on Friday

In an ongoing effort to help remake Uptown, local sculptor James Simon has installed numerous pieces of public art as a part of his Art on Gist Street project. But when his latest mural, a tile mosaic, is unveiled on Friday, his won’t have been the only hand in the work.

Simon collaborated on the project with ACH Clear Pathways, a Hill District non-profit which offers summer camps and after-school programs with foundations in the arts.

“They approached me about a program that kids could help with in the summer,” says Simon. “When I work with kids or young adults, my goal is always to make a high-quality piece of public art.”

This particular piece, which will be displayed on the side of a house at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Gist Street, saw Simon work with a group of about 30 children from the Hill, all between the ages of 5 and 12.

“Rose Reilly, the woman who lives in the house, she loves what we're doing in the neighborhood, and she told me that if we ever wanted to do something on her wall then we could,” says Simon.

“He’s just awesome,” says ACH Clear Pathways Founder and Executive Director Tyian Battle of Simon. “He’s patient, he’s respectful, and he worked with our kids to teach them how to make and display mosaic art.”

Battle’s campers worked with Simon at his Gist Street studio two days a week for seven weeks over the summer.

“He told me this was his first time working with young kids and said he was impressed,” says Battle, who founded ACH Clear Pathways in 2009 following the sudden death of her 7-year-old son, Amon Harris.

The kids will see the fruits of their and Simon’s labor on Friday afternoon, when Clear Pathways hosts a small block party on Gist Street, between Forbes Avenue and Watson Street to unveil the mural.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: James Simon, Tyian Battle

Remaking Cities Congress will convene in Pittsburgh this October

Twenty-five years ago, urban planners, architects and civil engineers from around the country and the world convened in Pittsburgh with the specific aim of addressing the problems facing historically industrial cities in a post-industrial world.

The gathering, called the Remaking Cities Institute, involved days of closed-door meetings, idea exchanges and ultimately, a set of recommendations and principles for industrial cities around the world to set about pulling themselves out of their post-industrial funk.

From October 15th to 18th, the organization, now called the Remaking Cities Congress, will gather 300 of the world’s leading urbanists here once again to review what worked, what didn’t and to issue a new list of recommendations which will inform and guide the next generation of urban planning policy for post-industrial cities from Pittsburgh to Germany’s Ruhr Valley.

“There were policy recommendations, and people walked away from [those sessions] and said, ‘we’re going to see how these affect our urban centers,’” says Pam Wigley, the director of media relations for Carnegie Mellon’s College of Fine Arts, who is helping to organize the congress. “The delegates have closed-door sessions on urban planning. They vote, they make decisions on policy, research and economic impact, among other things.”

Pittsburgh has benefitted from several of the recommendations put forth by the last gathering, including making substantial efforts to reclaim riverfronts and redevelop brownfields. Other involved areas, such as Detroit, have had substantially less success.

The congress’s honorary chair, Charles, the Prince of Wales, attended the 1988 conference in Pittsburgh, but this time will send a delegate in his stead and deliver his address via a videotaped message.

“Prince Charles has always had an interest in urban development and community planning,” Wigley says.

In addition to a series of invitation-only sessions, the congress will include several speakers such as Richard Florida and The Brookings Institute's Bruce Katz, as well as a host of tours and mobile workshops which will showcase various aspects of Pittsburgh's resurgence as case studies in post-industrial redevelopment.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Pam Wigley

Mattress Factory to open new gallery space on Sampsonia Way

Pittsburgh’s installation art scene will get another boost next month when the Mattress Factory, the museum in the Mexican War Streets section of the city’s North Side, opens a new satellite gallery in a repurposed house down the street from its main facility.

“The Mattress Factory has a history of repurposing older buildings,” says Abby Vanim, membership coordinator and development associate for the museum, which has owned the property for several years. “516 was really just waiting for the right opportunity to come along.”

After mildly rehabilitating the 2,500-square-foot space at 516 Sampsonia Way, the space is currently being outfitted with a large installation project by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota.

Shiota, who has worked out of Berlin since 1996, came to Pittsburgh at the beginning of August and has been covering the interior of the building with more than a million feet of yarn.

“She’d never had that big of a space to work with before,” Vanim says. “It’s nice to work in a space that has a little more character and a little more history to it. She’s used to working with plain, white gallery space.”

Shiota’s exhibit, which will be on display for a year, will open as part of a large event on September 12th, and will include brand new exhibits in the Mattress Factory’s main space at 500 Sampsonia Way, as well as in its multi-gallery facility at 1414 Monterey Street.

The evening will include live music from local band Lungs Face Feet.

Admission will be $15 at the door, and student discounts will be available. As always, Vanim says, museum members may attend free of charge.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Abby Vanim

Eat + Drink: A French patisserie in Squirrel Hill, an outdoor dinner in Downtown and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly romp through news which makes your mouth water.

Gaby et Jules brings fine French pastries to Squirrel Hill
Fred Rongier and David Piquard’s grandfathers shared the dream of opening bakeries in France. Neither ever did, but their grandsons are living out those dreams in Pittsburgh.

Gaby et Jules, a French patisserie from Paris 66 owner Rongier and Piquard, his master pastry chef, will hold its soft open at the end of August with a grand opening to take place in September. The shop is located at 5837 Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill, which formerly held the Oliver Flower Shop.

“In France, a bakery is a boulangerie.” says Rongier. “That’s not what we’re doing. This is a patisserie. Everything looks better and tastes better.”

Rongier says that in addition to Piquard’s famous French macarons, the shop will offer all manner of French baked goods which have helped make Paris 66 the city’s premiere spot for authentic French cuisine.

“He likes to make things,” Rongier says of Piqurad. “He’s going to wake up like an artist in the morning and he’s going to create a dessert. He doesn’t want to copy someone else’s. He does his own. He’s the one with the golden fingers.”

In addition to retail business, Rongier says he expects Gaby et Jules to develop a solid wholesale business, as Paris 66 already sells a lot of baked goods in larger quantities to local restaurants.

“We’ll do a lot of wedding cakes, for sure. If you go to someone else’s house and you want to bring a tart, you’ll have it,” Rongier says. “You won’t even want to eat it, it’s so nice.”

Bloggers will host outdoor dinner in Downtown
Local food blog eatPGH is teaming up with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership to host what’s being called Pittsburgh’s first urban supper.

“It’s basically dinner outside,” said eatPGH’s Laura Zorch. “Everybody’s doing farm dinners, which are fantastic, but how about something between skyscrapers?”

The dinner, which will take place on September 14th in the lot at 919 Liberty Avenue in Downtown, will feature a seven-course meal designed and cooked by local chefs Richard DeShantz of Meat & Potatoes and Keith Fuller of Root 174.
Zorch says that final details will be announced later this week, but that tickets for the dinner will cost $125 and include both the meal and an open bar.

“We’re still working out right now how many people we can fit in the space. We’re hoping to have up to 100,” Zorch says.

Full Pint Brewing opens an in-house pub
Since its inception in 2009, Full Pint Brewing has become one of Pittsburgh’s most popular local breweries.

Now, the North Versailles-based craft beer maker has added a scaled-down brew pub to its facilities.

In addition to growler sales and a bar, Full Pint now offers a menu of appetizers and sandwiches, served in an endearingly informal atmosphere in its warehouse brewery. The pub is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through  Wednesday, from 5 to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday. Hours are subject to change if the pub is empty after 9 p.m.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Fred Rongier, Laura Zorch

Steel and moss mural and more for grand opening of first Millvale library

A hundred years ago, Millvale — which covers less than one square-mile across the Allegheny River from Lawrenceville — was home to nearly 8,000 people. It thrived and collapsed along with the industries of the region.

On Sunday, Millvale will take one giant step toward its revitalization when the doors open to the Millvale Community Library — the first public library in the borough’s 145-year history.

Millvale will celebrate with a day-long block party featuring food, live music, games and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.  The festivities will also include the unveiling of a new mural — made entirely of steel and moss, and featuring the word “imagine” with a silhouette of the Millvale skyline — on the side of an adjacent building the library owns.

The library, which will include print materials, digital resources, computer access and a full slate of community class offerings, will be open 30 hours a week and occupy a 2,400-square-foot space at 213 Grant Avenue.

“It’s really been a local community effort with a lot of regional tie-ins and support,” says Brian Wolovich, president of the library’s board of trustees, who has worked on the project since its inception in 2007. “Hopefully, we can use this to further capitalize the development and redevelopment of the neighborhood itself.”

The product of over 50,000 hours from more than 1,000 volunteers, the library received four years of fiscal sponsorship from startup supporter New Sun Rising before striking out on its own.

“There’s no manual on how to just start a library,” Wolovich says, adding that the non-profit worked closely with the Shaler North Hills Library, Allegheny County and design and architecture firm Pfaffmann + Associates to make the facility a reality. “We view the space as a community center as much as we do a library,” Wolovich says. “It’s an agent for positive change.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Brian Wolovich, Gianna Paniagua

Children's Museum of Pittsburgh expanding into old Allegheny Regional Library building

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is pursuing a plan to expand into the former Allegheny Regional branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh as it looks to both extend its program offerings and alleviate overcrowding in its current space.

“Plans are not completely set in stone,” says Chris Siefert, the museum’s deputy director. “We’re working with the city and exploring the possibilities to get that building occupied.”

The former library’s proximity to the museum and the museum’s need for more space make the expansion a natural fit.
“We’ve had a significant growth in our attendance. We’re seeing over 250,000 people per year,” Siefert says. “Over the last two or three years, we’ve really noticed pressure on our physical space. This is sort of a continuation of our cultural campus and growing our space.”

According to Siefert, the museum has established an agreement with the city under which it will conduct an engineering assessment of the building to begin evaluating how to bring it up to code, make it more accessible and suitable for use. Constructed between 1886 and 1890, the building has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974.

Siefert also says that the museum plans to hold events to “check in with the community” every 90 days to get feedback on what people want and how to best include it in the renovation. The first such event will be held today from 4:30 to 6:30 at the vacant building, and will include guided tours of the first and second floors, as well as opportunities for people to present feedback.

Siefert anticipates the first phase of the project will cost between $5.5 and $7 million, with another $10 to $15 million to insure the location’s financial stability. He says it’s conceivable the space could be ready for the museum to use by mid-2015.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Chris Siefert

1135 Penn Condos offer significant tax credits to buyers

The space at 1135 Penn Avenue in Downtown, behind Eleven and vacant for the last five years, will soon house five  condominiums.

Designed and co-developed by Front Studio Architects in conjunction with construction firm MM Marra, 1135 Penn will feature five full-floor units, each consisting of at least 2,000 square feet.

According to Art Lubetz, a principal with Front Studio, buyers of units at 1135 Penn are eligible for tax credits under the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Act (LERTA), which offers 10-year abatements of up to $250,000 of the improved assessed value of a unit. This could save prospective buyers as much as $60,000.

Additionally, Allegheny County is also offering three-year abatements on the first $86,750 of each unit’s value.

The existing structure, which formerly housed a poultry slaughterhouse, dates to 1917 and will be outfitted with heating and cooling units in each condo, high-performance acoustic windows, bare brick walls and indoor parking spaces.

“The top floor has a large roof terrace, and the other two have terraces in the front of the building, which faces south,” says Lubetz.

Two of the units are already sold. Once Front Studio and Marra sell a third, they’ll begin construction, which they anticipate will take about five months.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Art Lubetz

Eat + Drink: Toss't opening Downtown, Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, Alley Brewing tasting

Eat + Drink is Pop City's routine review of reporting on rations.

Toss’t to open Downtown on August 13
Toss’t, the fast-casual salad concept spot from Julian Valozzi, will begin training staff tomorrow and plans to open its doors on August 13.

Located at 222 Fifth Avenue in Downtown, Toss’t will offer a variety of signature salads, customizable salads, wraps and Greek yogurt and will be open for lunch and dinner on weekdays.

Valozzi, owner of the Downtown Italian restaurant Valozzi’s right next door, says, “What I’m most excited about is getting back to working with some of the local, independent farmers as opposed to the larger food purveyors. It’s nice to talk with these guys and get to know and see exactly where our food is coming from.”

Toss’t will focus mainly on takeout business, but will offer minimal indoor seating, as well as some outdoor seating during warmer months.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week preview party will be tomorrow on the North Side
This year’s summer edition of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week will tantalize diners with a preview party, scheduled for tomorrow night at the North Side’s National Aviary.

Party-goers will be able to preview food, browse menus and make reservations from some of the 69 restaurants taking part in restaurant week.

Tickets may be purchased online through ShowClix for $50 prior to the event, or for $60 at the door. The party will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Pittsburgh Restaurant week will run from August 12 to 18. A full list of participating restaurants and deals is available on the PRW’s website.

Alley Brewing will hold free tasting at Bocktown tonight
When Josh Hays and Eric Bedont used to sit on their friend Chris Leber’s porch and talk about starting a business, they weren’t sure what form it would take.

“We’ve always had a passion to come up with some kind of business,” Leber says.

Once the three friends discovered craft beer, they were hooked. Named after the Brick Alley red light district of McKeesport’s yesteryear, Alley Brewing has turned into one of Pittsburgh’s most popular under-the-radar, amateur craft beer operations.

“Right now, we’re still in the homebrew phase,” Leber says. “We’re brewing in Cranberry, in my garage. My garage is overrun with brewing equipment.”

Six of Alley Brewing’s offerings will be available tonight when the trio holds a free tasting at the Bocktown Beer and Grill in Robinson. The selection will include an imperial IPA, a session IPA, a white IPA aged on peaches and apricots, a Belgian-style tripel, a saison and a new, experimental IPA.

“Those are the ones we started with more so than anything, and we’re kind of expanding out from there,” Leber says.

The trio’s ultimate goal is to open up their own Pittsburgh area brewpub, but as with the brewing process, the men behind Alley are taking their time.

“Before we ever brewed our first recipe or did anything with home brewing, we did about eight or nine months of research and learned how to do it,” Leber says.

Since then, they’ve dabbled in 18-20 different kinds of beer, and said they feel that about 10 of their recipes are where they want them.

Still, they’re going to make sure they’re as thorough as possible before looking to open their own pub.

“It’s one of those things where it can start as your passion, but it can rub off on the entire community,” Leber says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Chris Leber, Josh Hays, Julian Valozzi

Grocery store with focus on local produce coming to Lawrenceville

Starting in October, a new joint venture between two neighborhood residents will bring organic, locally-sourced food to Upper Lawrenceville.

The 52nd Street Market will hearken back to the days of the neighborhood corner grocery while offering residents a local option for healthy food and produce.

“We really do want people to feel like it’s their corner store,” says Dora Walmsley, one of the market’s co-owners.

Walmsley, who works for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, met co-owner Deirdre Kane while working on Lawrenceville’s organic community gardens.

The market will occupy the first-floor space at 601 52nd Street, which years ago was a corner grocery called Bloomfield Market. Walmsley and Kane were looking for a location when they learned that the building had just been sold to real estate development firm PA Wealth Builders, which initially planned to use the space for its offices.

When Walmsley and Kane approached Jon Perry from the firm about using the first-floor space for a market, he was eager to help.

“He believed in our vision,” Kane says. “He believed in local food economy and remodeled the building for us at no extra charge.”

Walmsley and Kane hope to cull as much of their stock as possible from local farms and community gardens. Eventually they hope the market which is scheduled to open in mid-October, could be supplied by its own small farm.

“We hope to acquire land to have a little farmette,” Walmsley says. “The farmette will supply the market, which will hopefully sustain both the market and the farm.”

In addition to produce, the market plans to offer a selection of prepared foods, soups, salads and a coffee bar with a seating area.

“I decided Lawrenceville was not only going to be my home, but my future,” Kane says. “I really wanted to be a part of the neighborhood fabric.”

Kane and Walmsley plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign soon to help cover some of the costs of opening the market. For updates and information on how to get involved, visit the Facebook page.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Dora Walmsley, Deirdre Kane

You can now surf the three rivers, thanks to Surf Pittsburgh

“I don’t think people understand that surfing is something you can do on rivers,” says Steve Ford.

Luckily for Pittsburgh, Ford is here to change that perception.

Earlier this year, Ford opened Surf Pittsburgh, the city’s first river surfing service, on the South Side.

Headquartered at 1407 East Carson Street, Surf Pittsburgh uses a special boat, launched onto the Monongahela from 18th Street, which is designed to create three-foot-high waves in its wake.

“It’s like most other wakeboard boats, except for the way it’s weighted and the way the hull is designed,” Ford says. “The way the boat is made, you drive really slowly, only about nine or 10 miles per hour.”

River surfers initially balance themselves on a board while holding onto a cord attached to the boat, then let go of the cord once they’re riding the waves the boat creates.

Ford says most training sessions take 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the group, and that it’s not as difficult as people might think. He estimates that around 90 percent of the people Surf Pittsburgh has taken out have been able to ride waves on their own.

“Depending on the conditions like the weather and the wind, you can surf down the Allegheny to the Ohio and back up the Mon,” Ford says. “On weekdays, when there is less traffic on the river, we’re able to go right down by The Point.”

Surf Pittsburgh offers private and group lessons and can accommodate groups of up to 10 people.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Steve Ford

New signage on Mt. Washington alerts people to businesses they may be missing

About 1.5 million tourists visit Mt. Washington’s inclines and scenic overlooks every year. Soon, the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation hopes to offer them more than just a nice view.

The Shiloh Street business district, which includes a diner, a bakery and a jewelry store, got new signs and a large business directory and map last week in what the MWCDC says is the first step in a larger initiative to market and build businesses on Mt. Washington.

“We’re trying to draw people in,” says MWCDC’s Christina Howell. “Most people have no idea that these business are on Shiloh Street.”

Although designed in the same style to indicate the type of business, shop owners had their choice of icons and colors for their signs, which were then designed by the MWCDC.

The PNC Foundation partnered with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development to help fund the campaign, much of which is still to come.

Howell says the grant also includes funding for a Mt. Washington-specific iPhone app which is currently in development. It will include a complete business directory as well as an interactive map of the city skyline for visitors to the overlooks.

Next month, the MWCDC will conduct its second of two pedestrian traffic studies to establish market data it will use in updating its business recruitment package.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Christina Howell

Eat + Drink: Mineo's Pizza expanding, Rebellion Ciderworks adds tasting room

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly look at the news from a food-and-libations standpoint.

Mineo’s expanding
Mineo’s Pizza House, a Pittsburgh favorite since it first opened in 1958, will extend its operations into a neighboring building on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill.

The expansion will allow Mineo’s to install a full-service bar, broaden its menu and increase its seating capacity by about 40.

The shop has possessed a full liquor license for three years, but until now, has only sold beer and other malt beverages.

The expansion will take over the building which formerly held Engel’s Market, a small, independent grocery store which Claire Engel and her family operated for 46 years before shutting its doors in April.

Rebellion Ciderworks opens tasting room
Seven years ago, Slippery Rock farmer Derek Kellogg started making small batches of hard cider as a hobby.

“I wanted a product that I could grow from start to finish,” Kellogg said. “When I started reading about the tradition and history behind cider, not only here but around the world, I became obsessed with it.”

That obsession led Kellogg to establish Rebellion Ciderworks in 2010. He started selling his hard cider at farmers’ markets and to Slippery Rock’s North Country Brewing Company.

Last month, he opened a tasting room at his farm.

Kellogg, who juices his apples by hand using a wooden rack-and-cloth press dating to 1921, currently imports many of his apples from New York, but that’s soon to change.

“My orchard isn’t producing yet. I just started planting it,” Kellogg says, adding that Rebellion’s orchard will contain different kinds of apples, from wild varieties and popular English apples to historical breeds, like the Virginia crab apples favored by Thomas Jefferson.

Rebellion currently offers three kinds of cider. A sweet cider, which Kellogg calls “a starter cider” is a blend of dessert apples, and preferred by people new to hard cider. He also makes a semi-sweet cider entirely from Macintosh apples, and an English-style dry cider made using four kinds of British cider apples.

So is cider the new craft beer?

“It’s going to take a while for traditional cider to really become more mainstream,” Kellogg says, “but it’s the fastest-growing sector of the alcohol market right now.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Derek Kellogg

City Council could vote today on funding for Larimer redevelopment

Pittsburgh City Council will today consider and possibly vote on a measure that would allocate $16.5 million in city funds for a wholesale overhaul of housing in the city’s Larimer neighborhood.

Approving the funding is a step toward the city applying for a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that would help establish 350 mixed-income residential units in an area that hasn’t seen housing development in nearly five decades.

“Most of that money is for infrastructure and for housing, but it will be leveraged to use for other things,” says Councilman Ricky Burgess, whose ninth district includes Larimer and part of East Liberty.

The measure, which Burgess introduced, would help the city’s cause in applying on Larimer’s behalf for the HUD Choice Neighborhood Initiative.

If Pittsburgh’s application is accepted, the city would get a $30 million federal grant which would go toward developing housing in one of Pittsburgh’s most underserved neighborhoods.

According to Burgess, the $16.5 million from the city — which would be spread out over seven years — and HUD grant would be augmented by $16.5 million from the city Housing Authority and the balance culled from other funding streams.

“The Choice Neighborhood application is actually bigger than Larimer, and encompasses part of East Liberty,” Burgess says. “What makes this different is that it’s total and complete transformation.”

Larimer will hold a community meeting on the plan on August 8th at 5:30 p.m. at the Kingsley Association, located at 6435 Frankstown Avenue.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Ricky Burgess

Construction to begin on Carnegie's Pitcher Park Memorial Skatepark

The rapidly changing landscape of Carnegie will soon get another amenity.

Contractors will break ground on the Pitcher Park Memorial Skatepark, located in Carnegie Park, on August 15th. The project is expected to take about four months to complete.

The 15,000-square-foot park is the brainchild of Mary Pitcher, whose sons Stephen and Vincent drowned while on a camping trip in the summer of 2008.

Both brothers were skateboard and BMX bike enthusiasts and ever since their deaths, their mother has been on a mission to build a skatepark in their memory.

She established a non-profit public charity, the Pitcher Park Foundation, in March of 2011 and set about raising money.

“We’ve settled on a plan, and we’re down to discussing fence heights and that type of thing,” Pitcher says. “I’d really like it to be something that doesn’t look like a prison yard.”

“They’ve done a great job with everything, and they’ve been through a lot of hoops and hurdles,” says Carnegie’s Interim Borough Manager Stephen Beuter. “For what they’re going with in the size, it’s going to be one of a kind in the area.”

The entire project is privately funded. So far, Pitcher’s non-profit has raised more than $600,000, including a gift of more than $500,000 from the Ken & Carol Schultz Foundation.

To cover the added cost of lighting the park, the Pitcher Park Foundation has begun selling memorial bricks which will be engraved and installed in the park.

Pitcher says she’s overcome with emotion when she thinks about the number of people who have helped her advance the project.

“So many people have been a part of this,” she says. “If I could give bricks away, I would. There are people who’ve come to every single fundraiser we’ve ever had.”

The Pitcher Park Foundation will seek to make that money go as far as it can by using donated and re-purposed materials wherever possible.

Seattle-based firm Grindline is designing the park, which will include facilities for skateboarding, biking and rollerblading. A spectator area and colored concrete are possibilities, depending on further available funding.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Mary Pitcher, Stephen Beuter

Lots of Green Bike + Bus Tour now bigger and better and ending in a party

For the second straight year, Growth Through Energy + Community Health (GTECH) will host a BikeFest event highlighting neighborhood efforts to make Pittsburgh greener.

The Lots of Green Bike + Bus Tour, which will take place on August 10th, offer participants bike tours of seven and 32 miles, as well as the option of a 90-minute bus tour for those less inclined to ride.

To expand upon last year’s bike tour of new and innovative community green space, GTECH has partnered with Grow Pittsburgh to make the event even bigger.

“Most of the projects that will be highlighted are former vacant lots — spaces that have been transformed into community green spaces,” says GTECH’s Sara Innamorato.

The tours will begin at 9 a.m., and leave from GTECH’s offices at 6587 Hamilton Avenue.

“If you look at the route, a lot of the gardens are in neighborhoods with high levels of vacancy,” Innamorato says. “There are these green efforts happening in the community and there are people who really care about them and want to make them better.”

The tours include stops at community gardens and parks in city neighborhoods such as Garfield, Greenfield, the South Side, East Liberty, Homewood and Larimer, and areas just outside the city, including Braddock, Wilkinsburg, Homestead and Millvale.

When the tours conclude, participants will meet back up at GTECH’s offices for a party, featuring food from local vendors such as Marty’s Market, My Goodies Bakery and Rob’s Awesome Italian Ice, drinks from Commonplace Coffee, and beer donated by East End Brewing Company.

The Tech Shop will be on hand with a bike-themed demo, and Carnegie Library of Braddock’s Print Shop will be doing custom screen printing.

Tickets for Lots of Green are $10 and may be purchased through Showclix. For more on 2013 BikeFest, visit its website and check out Pop City’s expanded coverage.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Sara Innamorato

Eat + Drink: Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room gearing up for August opening

Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room set to open in late August
The space that generations of Pittsburghers knew as Tambellini Seventh Street Ristorante will re-open its doors late next month as Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room.

“We completely gutted the space,” says Suzanne Hrach, owner of the new venture. “All substantial construction is complete.

In addition to 30 craft beers on tap, 20-plus wines by the glass, house cocktails and signature snacks, Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room will feature thin-crust, artisan-style pizzas with house-made mozzarella and seasonal toppings.

Proper’s pizza dough, a sourdough-based starter that rests for three days after it’s made, comes from a recipe which Hrach’s boyfriend has worked to refine for more than a year.

Hrach has enlisted Lynette “LBEE” Bushey, formerly of Verde Mexican Kitchen and Cantina,  as Proper’s executive chef.

The menu is designed to emphasize the quality of the ingredients.

“Less is more,” says Hrach.

Tambellini’s, a Pittsburgh institution for more than 60 years, closed its doors in February.

Roundabout Brewery opens with a bang
Steve Sloan’s Roundabout Brewery on Butler Street in Lawrenceville had a hectic first two weeks in business.

When it initially opened its doors on the afternoon of Friday, July 12, lines to get growlers of beer filled the brewery’s foyer, extended out the door and wrapped around the building.

“That first week was really nuts,” Sloan says.

Sloan said that when he opened, he estimated that he had enough beer brewed to last a few weeks. By the end of last weekend, his supply of HyPA and Ginga Wheat were all but depleted.

Sloan anticipates having both beers available again within the week, but didn’t imagine he’d have any trouble keeping up with demand.

“If we have to go out and get another fermenter, we can do that,” Sloan says. “That’s where the bottleneck in the process is.”

Social plucks Kuhn away from Bar Marco
Mixologist Chris Kuhn has left Bar Marco to become the bar manager for Social at Bakery Square.

Kuhn’s cocktails include new takes on old favorites, such as the Brooklyn Bridge (Manhattan) and new concoctions, such as the Bourbon Blast (bourbon, grapefruit, maple syrup, bitters).

In addition to 16 beers on tap and 28 canned beers, Social will also offer fresh, house-made sangria which Kuhn will rotate weekly.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Suzanne Hrach, Steve Sloan, Chris Kuhn

Schenley Park to get two new water management systems

In an effort to reduce runoff and pollution and restore the ecosystem in Panther Hollow, two new rainwater management systems will be built in portions of Schenley Park.

“These are pilot projects and they’re part of a larger effort to restore the Panther Hollow Watershed,” says Erin Copeland, a restoration ecologist for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

One system will consist of French drains along Bartlett and Beacon Streets in Squirrel Hill, near the park’s perimeter.

The drains are designed to collect surface water and groundwater into special piping which will redistribute the water.

The other system, which will be installed along Schenley Drive through the Bob O’Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park, involves a process called retentive grading.

Utilizing strategically chosen areas of the golf course, the conservancy will construct 20 to 25 earthen mounds perpendicular to water flow and made of soil mixtures designed to effectively soak in the most water.

Copeland says that together, the two systems will absorb about 1.9 million gallons of water each year, all of which will be redistributed to the Panther Hollow Watershed.

The systems, both of which qualify as pieces of green infrastructure, are part of the conservancy’s larger plan to restore the streams, woodlands and lake in Panther Hollow.

“Right now, the lake drains back to the sewer system,” Coleman says. “We’d like to change that. We want to get that water back out of the lake and create a stream in Junction Hollow.”

The upgrades, which the conservancy has been planning since 2010, will be completed next spring.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Erin Copeland

Lunch patio pops up on Downtown's Strawberry Way

Most Pittsburghers know Strawberry Way as a Downtown alley used for deliveries, and as a popular shortcut for lunchtime pedestrians.

But for the next month, the block of Strawberry Way between Smithfield Street and Montour Way will be sectioned off and turned into a patio during lunch on weekdays.

“Our idea was to provide downtown office workers and residents with more access to public seating,” says Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “You can go to the Steel Tower on a nice day and the place is completely jam-packed with people eating their lunches. We’re going to try this out for 30 days and see how it goes.”

The patio, which debuted on Monday, will be set up and open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Waldrup says that it will seat between 50 and 60 people, and that its location — safely in the shade during those hours — makes it an ideal getaway for Downtown workers.

“We hope it will stick around for the rest of the season,” Waldrup says. “It could be something that stays open spring, summer and fall if everyone agrees it’s a good idea.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jeremy Waldrup

Office of Public Art releases new guide with Downtown launch party

You know that one Downtown mural or interesting building you love, but don’t know much about?

The Pittsburgh Office of Public Art does, and its new guide, published last month, Pittsburgh Art in Public Places: Downtown, offers a comprehensive look at more than 100 works of public art in Downtown and on the North Side.

The guide will be the subject of a second release party tomorrow evening at the Wood Street Galleries at 601 Wood Street, Downtown, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“All of the living artists who have work represented in the guide are invited, and many are attending,” says Renee Piechocki, director of the Office of Public Art.

The event will include cake, champagne, music from DJ Tara George and a slideshow of the art featured in the guide. There will also be an autograph table where guests can have their copies of the guide signed by all of the artists in attendance.

The event is free and open to the public, though RSVPs are encouraged.

“Pittsburgh has a world-class public art collection,” Piechocki says. “Public art has been an essential component of Pittsburgh's revitalization, and new projects will continue to add value and meaning to our public spaces.”

Copies of the guide will available for free at the party, and are downloadable as a PDF from the office’s website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Renee Piechocki

American Natural brings a modernized energy center to Station Square

American Natural, a subsidiary of New York-based energy company Cleopatra Resources LLC, will open what it calls the region’s first "energy center" at 73 East Carson Street in Station Square on July 25th.

In addition to offering standard gasoline and diesel fuels, the station will be the first in the region to sell compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternative automobile fuel source.

“Natural gas is an abundant and attractively price commodity and we are extremely excited to bring this affordable, reliable and responsible product to the Pittsburgh market at a price just below two dollars per gallon,” says Jennifer Pomerantz, CEO of Cleopatra Resources.

In order to run on natural gas, most cars would need to be retro-fitted — a process which can cost up to several thousand dollars. American Natural's installation will be the second facility in Pittsburgh to offer CNG. Downtown-based EQT Corp. operates a CNG filling station in the Strip District.

According to Pomerantz, the fueling station, American Natural Retail’s first endeavor, will create around 20 permanent jobs in the Pittsburgh area.

In addition to its automotive fueling options, the center will contain the American Natural Eatery, offering customers a full menu of salads and sandwiches, a coffee bar featuring coffee from Buffalo, NY-based roaster SPoT, and baked goods from local establishments Allegro Hearth, Gluuteny and Sinful Sweets.

“Our food offerings are going to include full meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” says Pomerantz.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jennifer Pomerantz

Pittsburgh Brewing Company names Brian Walsh new CEO

Uni-World Capital, the private equity firm that owns the Pittsburgh Brewing Company and all of the Iron City Brands, has tapped career beverage executive Brian Walsh to run the iconic local operation.

He succeeds interim CEO Rob Matteucci, who had served in the role since May.

“Brian was the ideal candidate,” Scott Porter of Uni-World says. “He has a strong beer-specific background, a strong background in understanding and working in local markets, and he has a lot of experience in the Pittsburgh area specifically.”

Walsh spent the past six years as president and CEO of the Long Trail Brewing Company in Bridgewater Corners, Vt. During Walsh’s tenure at Long Trail, the microbrewery increased its shipment volume by 123 percent and more than doubled its revenue. Walsh also oversaw Long Trail’s acquisition of the Otter Creek Brewing Company and its Wolaver’s Certified Organic brands in 2010.

\Walsh is no stranger to the Pittsburgh beer market. Prior to taking over Otter Creek, he served as a regional vice president with Labatt USA, during which he managed Rolling Rock’s relationship with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh was also part of his territory while working as a regional sales manager for Guinness.

“[Walsh] understands the importance of Iron City to the Pittsburgh community and how to translate that into profitable, sustainable growth,” Porter says. “The Pittsburgh community wants Iron City to succeed. We want this brand to succeed and we want to do it the right way.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Scott Porter

American Mustache Institute relocating to Pittsburgh

Last October, the American Mustache Institute named Pittsburgh’s Adam Causgrove its Mustached American of the year. Last week, the organization announced it will move its headquarters from St. Louis to Pittsburgh, and that Causgrove will be its new CEO.

“We really want to put Pittsburgh on the map as being a mecca for mustached Americans,” Causgrove says. “It’s expected to be the greatest thing to happen in the history of the city. And I don’t believe in hyperbole.”

Causgrove’s journey to the top of mustached America began last year, when he met then-CEO Aaron Perlut at the institute’s annual ‘Stache Bash. Perlut, who had headed the organization since 1989, was looking to scale back his duties, and Causgrove expressed an interest in becoming more involved.

“It just made sense to move it into Pittsburgh,” says Causgrove. “As we expand the group, we’d like to make it a bigger force from a philanthropic standpoint.”

Accordingly, Causgrove’s first priority was to bring the institute under the umbrella of Side Project Inc., a non-profit and philanthropic start-up support organization he runs with his cousin. As of right now, the institute remains based out of Causgrove’s Mount Washington home, but he has big plans to go along with the relocation.

The AMI will hold its annual ‘Stache Bash in Pittsburgh this October. Causgrove says the organization expects to host attendees from all 50 states, and estimates the event’s economic benefit to the city will be about $250,000.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Adam Causgrove

Eat + Drink: Klavon's reopens with PSU ice cream, Hello Bistro expands, Nakama food truck and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly exploration of the best in local food news.

Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor reopening
Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor, a Strip District mainstay, will hold a soft open on Sunday in celebration of National Ice Cream Day.

New owners Jacob and Desiree Hanchar won't make many changes to the place, but one will be notable: they've switched to ice cream from the Penn State Creamery, making Klavon's the only establishment in Pittsburgh to serve the internationally reknowned treat from State College.

“We’re keeping the menu as close to the same as possible,” Jacob Hanchar says. "We’re going to try to keep the phosphates, but they won’t be available during the soft open."

It will be the first day of business since former owner Raymond J. Klavon died of cancer in January. His family sold the building to the Hanchars in late June.

"We gave the place a fresh coat of paint. Other than that, we haven’t done a lot to the shop," Hanchar says. "We’re going to promote companies that are from Pittsburgh, local confectionary makers. We really want to keep the roots and the karma as authentic as possible.”

Hello Bistro expands to the South Side
Eat’n Park Hospitality Group’s Hello Bistro opened its second Pittsburgh location last week, this one at 1922 East Carson Street on the South Side.

The menu emphasizes fresh specialty burgers and salads, includes a variety of bottled beers, and offers a few of Eat’n Park’s mainstays, such as its potato soup and Smiley cookies.

The first Hello Bistro location opened last summer in Oakland, and Eat’n Park is planning a third location for Downtown.

Nakama to debut food truck
Nakama Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, which has already expanded across the city with express locations in each of the city’s major sporting venues and Carnegie Mellon University, is launching its first food truck.

The truck, custom-painted by South Side artist Danny Gardner, will feature traditional Japanese hibachi, seasonal sushi rolls, noodle dishes, fried rice and fresh salads, as well as daily specials.

The truck will debut Thursday in Schenley Park as part of the festivities surrounding the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.

To find the Nakama food truck around town or check its daily specials, you can follow the truck on Facebook or Twitter (@nakamafoodtruck).

Planet Goodness brings organic options to the Alle-Kiski Valley
For more than a year, Stephanie Riedel, Jake Roach and Sue Ziegenfus have been working to revive the former grocery store at 1012 First Street in North Vandergrift, and turn it into an organic grocery store.

On July 27th, Planet Goodness will open to the public, bringing healthy and organic food to the suburbs northeast of Pittsburgh.

“Always good for the earth in the end is our main concept,” Riedel says. “We really are excited to be bringing the organic and natural food supply to the valley. There’s a lot of folks here who need and want better food choices.”

Planet Goodness will start off relatively small, occupying just 1,560 square feet of the building’s 2,500 square-foot first floor. But Riedel says that plans to keep expanding immediately after opening include a classroom and a recycled garden area.

“We want it to be something of a community hub,” Riedel says. “The thing about rural folks is they want a place to congregate.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Jacob Hanchar, Stephanie Riedel

Pitt approves $37 million upgrade to engineering school building

The University of Pittsburgh has approved a plan to spend $37 million to complete renovations on Benedum Hall, which houses the university’s Swanson School of Engineering.

“This final phase of Benedum Hall renovations will complete our building’s transformation into a leading-edge engineering education and research facility,” says Gerald Holder, dean of the Swanson Engineering School. 

The renovation will be the third and final phase of Benedum’s makeover, which began as part of Pitt’s 12-year Facilities Plan. It will focus on floors 9 through 12, as well as on the basement and subbasement.

The project will upgrade laboratories and classrooms, as well as support facilities such as conference rooms, lobbies and offices.

“Our undergraduate and graduate student population continues to grow in quality and quantity, and these projects will help us compete for the best engineering students,” Holder says. “In addition, our new and renovated lab spaces are helping us attract the best faculty candidates to Pittsburgh.”

In addition to the work on Benedum Hall, Pitt will upgrade about 900 feet of steam distribution lines between the corners of Terrace and Lothrop streets and DeSoto and O’Hara streets. The upgrade will aide steam flow from the Carrillo Street Steam Plant on Pitt’s upper campus and further ease campus growth in the future.  

The renovations are scheduled to be completed by 2015.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Gerald Holder

ACTION-Housing completes Passive House-certified home in Heidelberg

A single-family home in Heidelberg developed by ACTION-Housing has been certified as Western Pennsylvania’s first “Passive House.”

The energy-efficient home, which was completed in October of 2012, uses 80 percent less energy than a standard single-family home and is only the 45th house in the United States to receive the designation.

“Passive House thinking is pretty simplistic,” says Linda Metropulos, ACTION’s senior housing development officer. “It’s about performance. We were concerned about meeting this very low number to heat and cool the building.”

Built without a furnace or any duct work, the Heidelberg Passive House uses its super-insulated envelope, 18-inch-thick walls and triple-glazed windows designed to maximize the value of passive solar heat gain in the winter, but not in the summer. Because the building is nearly airtight, a ventilation system which operates around the clock continuously brings in fresh air which can be heated and cooled.

It was designed by Thoughtful Balance Architects and built by TBI Contractors.

“What we were able to do was spend a lot of money on the envelope and no money on mechanical equipment,” says Metropulos. “ACTION-Housing has understood for a long time the connection between affordability and energy costs. It’s something we’ve been working on for years and this felt like an extension on those efforts.”

Metropulos says that ACTION has plans for three more passive buildings in the area, including facilities in McKeesport, Hazelwood and Uptown.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Linda Metropulos

Mon Wharf Switchback ramp meets funding goal

When Riverlife announced two weeks ago that it was launching an internet crowdfunding campaign to raise the last $4,454 needed to fund the Mon Wharf Switchback, it allowed a window of 60 days to raise the money.

“We blew through the goal in about 24 hours,” says Riverlife’s Stephan Bontrager. “This is one of those stories that shows how enthusiastic the Pittsburgh community can be.”

Redeveloped a few years ago, the Mon Wharf Landing still lacks a direct connection to Point State Park. The Mon Wharf Switchback will connect the Great Allegheny Passage and the Smithfield Street Bridge to Point State Park through the Mon Wharf Landing, creating access across a 40-foot elevation difference where there hasn’t been for generations.

With the initial funding goal met so quickly, Bontrager says that money raised above the initial goal will go toward improving trail signage in the area, making it easy for cyclists and pedestrians to identify the entrances and paths to the switchback. Riverlife refers to the project as “shovel-ready.”

“There’s a lot of site prep that’s going on. All of the engineering and permit design has been completed. We’re moving forward as quickly as humanly possible,” Bontrager says.

Riverlife hopes to have the Mon Wharf Switchback completed in time for the 2014 outdoor recreation season.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Stephan Bontrager

Eat + Drink: Roundabout Brewery, Social at Bakery Square and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly exploration of new offerings in local gastronomy.

A new brewery in Lawrenceville
Roundabout Brewery, Pittsburgh’s newest creator of small-batch craft beers, will open its doors for the first time on Friday.

The brainchild of Steve and Dyana Sloan, Roundabout occupies the space at 4901 Butler Street in Lawrenceville, formerly a welding studio and tire store.

Steve, who holds a master’s degree in chemistry and has worked at more than a dozen breweries in the United States and Germany, was most recently the brewery manager at the Church Brew Works in Bloomfield.

His initial offerings will include Black Possum (a dark steam beer), Hy-PA (an IPA-pale hybrid session ale), Ferdl Weiss (a traditional German-style wheat beer), Ginga Wheat (an American-style wheat beer flavored with ginger, lemon and local honey) and The Commoner (a mild ale made from New Zealand hops, German malt and American yeast).

Sloan said that at first, Roundabout will only offer growlers of its craft beers, but that he soon hopes to expand the space to include a tasting area with seating.

Though the Sloans have been working entirely by themselves the last five months to finish the space, Steve said that he’s had a lot of help from other local craft breweries, such as the East End Brewery and the Arsenal Cider House, which have loaned him equipment.

“I couldn’t have done it without them,” Sloan says.

Roundabout will hold its soft opening Friday and Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
 
Social brings gourmet pizza and beer to Bakery Square
Bakery Square will get its first sit-down restaurant and bar when Social, a new venture from Walnut Capital, opens Monday.

Social will offer a wide array of salads, appetizers and sandwiches, and will specialize in a variety of gourmet pizzas.

“We’re taking bar food to the next level,” says Edana Muldoon, Social’s general manager. “We’re trying to make it as much of a scratch kitchen as possible.”

Social’s bar will feature 32 taps and a selection of 28 more beers, and Muldoon says she hopes the restaurant can be a both a lunch and happy hour destination for employees and patrons in Bakery Square.

“There are about 1,000 employees here,” Muldoon says. “We went to offer them another alternative, and we want to offer them some alcohol."

In addition to its indoor space, Social will have an outdoor seating capacity of about 50 people.

Paris 66 to hold Bastille Day celebrations
East Liberty French bistro Paris 66 will celebrate Bastille Day with 12 full hours of food and festivities on Sunday.

In addition to its normal Sunday brunch service from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a prix fixe dinner menu from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., the bistro will host an outdoor, all-you-can-eat buffet featuring mussels, frites and crepes from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.

From 4 p.m. until 9 p.m., the outdoor area will be converted into a 1920s-style Parisian soiree, complete with music and dancing.

In addition to commemorating the 224th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, the celebration will be the debut event for new Paris 66 chef Franck Lacaille.

While the outdoor activities will be open seating, reservations are recommended for both brunch and dinner.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Steve Sloan, Edana Muldoon

Eat + Drink: Skybar, Taverna 19, digging on vegan food

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly glance at the lastest happenings in the food scene in Pittsburgh.

A new bar on Carson Street? This one has a twist.

Skybar
, a new rooftop bar and lounge space located at 1601 East Carson Street, opened last week.

The seventh venture from Adam DiSimone’s AMPD Group, Skybar boasts Pittsburgh’s first-ever rooftop bar and swimming pool, four private rentable cabanas, and food delivery from sister restaurant Local.

The rooftop pool is open during the bar’s daylight hours, and at night, is covered by a transparent platform, making it part of the lounge area.

Skybar is open to the public, but requires either a ticket or reservation on weekends. Ticket prices for varying degrees of access at Skybar range between $10 and $1,000. DeSimone says there won't be a cover on weekdays, but there's only one way to skip any possible lines.

"A membership guarantees you access any time you want," DeSimone says. 

Taverna 19 set for mid-July opening
Pittsburgh will get a monstrous addition to its outdoor dining scene next month when Taverna 19, a Greek restaurant and bar, opens at 108 19th Street in the Strip District.

Specializing in Greek and Mediterranean fare, the 20,000-square foot spot will feature belly dancers on Wednesday through Saturday evenings and a nightclub space on its upper level, bottle service in VIP areas and walls lined with flowers and herbs grown for use in house cocktails.

Taverna 19 will also offer brunch service on Saturday and Sunday.

Stroll the Strip offers a little bit of everything
From a food standpoint, Pittsburgh has no more eclectic neighborhood than the Strip District. Tomorrow night, the second annual Stroll the Strip event will turn the district into a neighborhood party, offering participants a chance to sample nearly all of it.

From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Stroll the Strip invites participants to wander between the event’s 20 host locations — from Wholey Seafood to the Society for Contemporary Craft — and experience all the Strip has to offer in food, drink and art. 

Participants may walk between locations or take advantage of the Pittsburgh Tour Company’s double-decker bus, which will be circulating around the area and stopping at various locations.

The evening will conclude with an after part at Cruze Bar. Tickets to Stroll the Strip are available through ShowClix for $45, or may be purchased at the door for $55.

Randita’s Grill brings vegan fare to Saxonburg and beyond
Last May, Randy Cinski started Randita’s Grill — a food truck specializing in vegan cuisine that popped up everywhere from Washington’s Landing to outlying towns such as Cranberry and Butler.  When a storefront came open in Saxonburg earlier this year, she jumped at the opportunity to establish a permanent location.

“People were asking us to open a restaurant,” Cinski says. “It’s been jumping ever since."

Randita’s Grill, located at 210 West Main Street in Saxonburg, offers lunch and dinner service on Tuesday and Thursday, and lunch exclusively the rest of the week.  When she’s not in the restaurant, Cinski is likely out with her truck, spreading the word that eating well and eating healthy are not mutually exclusive.

“I want to help people figure out how to eat healthy,” Cinski says, adding that her clientele ranges from strict vegans and organic food enthusiasts to people looking to make significant changes in their diets and lifestyles. “Sometimes, I don’t think people even realize what they’re eating is vegan,” she says.

Cinski points to BBQ seitan wraps, African peanut stew and vegan meatball sandwiches as being among her most popular items, and says that she uses local ingredients and materials wherever possible.

“That sometimes dictates my menu,” she says. “We try really hard to buy from local people, right down to our eco-friendly disposable materials.”
 
Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Becky Rodgers, Randy Cinski, Adam DeSimone

California Markets help inject new life and businesses into Brighton Heights

Brighton Heights resident Stephanie Stauffer says she loves the bevy of creative retail spaces and restaurants which has sprung up in the East End the last few years, but doesn’t see why her home turf should be any different.

That’s why Stauffer, who was one of the founders of the Downtown pop up Burgheoisie Boutique, launched the California Markets, a series of open-air market events in Brighton Heights’ California Avenue business corridor.

Backed by the Brighton Heights Citizens’ Association and a grant from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the markets — which occur on the second Saturday of each month from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. — started in June and will run through September. They feature local food, crafts vendors and all manner of community engagement activities.

Next month’s event, which will take place on July 13, will feature a barbecue and brew off, allowing participants to pit their grilling skills or homemade beer against those of their neighbors with winners determined via public vote. The Style Truck will also make an appearance.

Stauffer says that not only are the markets exposing the North Side to a taste of the pop up culture that’s become so prevalent in the East End and Downtown, but they’re also helping to reestablish the Brighton Heights business district.
The California Avenue corridor’s storefronts, Stauffer says, were about 50 percent vacant until a few months ago. Now, she says, they have close to 80 percent occupancy.

“It’s not a coincidence that businesses are moving in with what we’re doing here,” Stauffer says. “It’s a chance for startup businesses to show what they have going on.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Stephanie Stauffer

Homewood getting a new 12,000 square-foot Renaissance Center

A new type of community facility will be at the center of an effort to revitalize North Homewood.

After plans to put a dollar store in the space at 7258 Frankstown Avenue fell through, Dollar Bank agreed to donate the building — valued at $2 million — for what the Homewood Renaissance Association is calling The Renaissance Center.

Among its features, the 12,000-square foot Renaissance Center will include classrooms, community space, a kitchen, a recording studio and other recreational amenities, in addition to housing the Homewood Renaissance Association’s new offices.

Apart from acting as a community center, the space will have 4,000-square feet dedicated to four retail storefront spaces. Businesses local to Homewood will occupy three of the spaces, and the fourth will act as a business incubator, according to Homewood Renaissance Association spokesperson Kelley Denny.

Collaborating with the association on the Renaissance Center are City MissionHosana IndustriesRebuilding Together Pittsburgh, along with backing from a myriad of local foundations and volunteer efforts.

On track to open in early 2014, the Renaissance Center is the prime initiative in a broader community revitalization campaign which will also see the construction of a youth home, the establishment of a transitional housing program for the homeless, the expansion of both a career skills training program for young men in Homewood and a daily after school program for children of all ages.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Kelley Denny

Eat + Drink: AVA moving to Oakland, Wigle Whiskey expands, Syrian cuisine in Squirrel Hill and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly dive into the world of local consumables.

AVA Bar & Lounge moving to Oakland
AVA Bar & Lounge, which announced last week that it would close its location on South Highland Avenue in East Liberty and seek a new space, will move to 304 North Craig Street in Oakland in August.

The new spot, formerly Luna Bar, will allow AVA to expand to two floors and offer a parking lot for its customers at the corner of Craig and Center Avenue.

"It's just a better market for us," says AVA owner Justin Strong. "It's where we started."

Strong says the space's second floor will host AVA's events, such as jazz and open mic nights. The first floor will be a bar and lounge area.

Strong has launched a campaign on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, seeking to raise $35,000 in the next four weeks to help cover AVA's moving costs make the transition to the new location as seamless as possible.

Naya brings Syrian cuisine to Squirrel Hill
Radwa Ibrahim, who formerly owned Middle Eastern restaurant Tyma’z in the North Hills, has moved her operation to 2018 Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill.

Her new venture, Naya, offers Syrian-style home cooked food along with her versions of Middle Eastern favorites, such as falafel, babaganoush and stuffed grape leaves.

Ibrahim, who opened Naya earlier this month, said that many of her regular Tyma’z customers have already made the trek into the city to continue enjoying her cooking.

Wigle Whiskey expanding to the North Side
Wigle Whiskey, the Strip District-based distiller of local and organic spirits, has purchased a warehouse in the Spring Garden section of the North Side and will begin converting it into a barrelhouse.

“We were quickly running out of room, so we’ve been searching for a space for a while,” says Wigle’s Meredith Grelli. “The building fit all our needs and we love the neighborhood.”

The space, which occupies about 10,000 square feet at 1055 Spring Garden Avenue, is the former home of the Balestreire Produce Company. It will house Wigle’s barrels of aging spirits, its innovation lab and a state-of-the-art whiskey garden, thought to be the first of its kind in the country.

“We imagine it as this seasonal kind of space where we’d have community events and small concerts, and the garage would become kind of a bar area,” Grelli says.

Architectural firm Edge-studio will design the new space. Wigle has hired contractor Marty Marra to undertake the construction. Grelli says they hope to open the space in the summer of 2014.

North Side Sandwich Week kicks off
Thirteen locally owned and independent restaurants are taking part in the second annual North Side Sandwich Week, which started yesterday and will run throgh June 23.

Elks Lodge #339 will host a sold-out sandwich sampler event tomorrow evening, at which attendees and celebrity judges will crown a new sandwich king or queen.

Each participating restaurant will hang a Sandwich Week banner, and customers can use their smartphones to scan QR codes in order to vote for their favorite sandwiches.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Justin Strong, Radwa Ibrahim, Meredith Grelli

South Side organization seeks to redevelop former Duquesne Brewery

The Brew House Association, a non-profit arts organization headquartered in the old Duquesne Brewery at 2100 Mary Street on the South Side, is looking for partners to assist in redeveloping the 114-year-old building.

The association, which provides housing and studio space to visiting artists, has owned the 104,000-square foot space since 2001 and occupied it since 1991, has hired South Side-based development consulting firm Civic Square to find development partners.

“The Brew House Association is seeking partners to to help tap the building’s potential and strengthen its organization,” says Civic Square’s Rick Belloli. “It will be a challenging but rewarding project to work on.”

Belloli speculates that the ultimate plan may involve a mix of ground-level retail space and office space on higher floors.

Civic Square and the Brew House Association will host a walking tour of the space for prospective investors on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., and interested parties should e-mail Civil Square to RSVP.

The Duquesne Brewing Company opened the original building in 1899, and expanded the facility in 1950. In 1961, it purchased the now iconic giant clock and moved it from its location on Mount Washington to the top of its new facility, facing the Monongahela River.

Though the original Duquesne Brewing Company folded in 1972, the Duquesne Beer brand was resurrected in 2010.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Rick Belloli

Lot 24 luxury apartments open in the Strip District

A brand new 96-unit luxury apartment building in the Strip Distrct held its grand opening last Thursday.

Lot 24
, located at 2404 Railroad Street, is the second joint venture from McCaffery Interests, Chuck Hammel and Bob Beynon, who renovated and opened the Cork Factory Lofts in 2005. MI-Home, a McCaffery subsidiary, will manage the building.

“This was a different type of situation because with the Cork Factory, it was an existing building. Lot 24 is entirely new.” says McCaffery’s Pamela Austin, adding that its red brick and corrugated metal exterior serve to create an industrial feeling that compliments the neighboring Cork Factory and blends in well with the aesthetic of the Strip District.

Antunovich Associates of Chicago designed the building, and California-based hospitality designer Intra-Spec fashioned the interior. Pittsburgh-based contractor Massaro Corporation completed construction on the building in December 2012, and it was fully leased within six months.

Lot 24 offers studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments in a variety of sizes and floor plans, and its amenities include a swimming pool, a spa, concierge service, a fitness center, a club room and building-wide WiFi.

Austin says that while the Cork Factory drew a diverse crowd of people, from young professionals to downsizing empty-nesters looking to downsize, Lot 24 is designed to skew young.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Pamela Austin

Duquesne residence hall earns Gold LEED certification

Duquesne University’s Des Places Hall, which opened in the fall of 2012, has been awarded Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

In doing so, it becomes the first Duquesne University building to earn such status.

WTW Architects designed the $38 million, all-suite dorm, which houses about 400 juniors, seniors and graduate students, and uses nearly 22 percent less energy than a standard dormitory.

“We’re committed at the university to have any new construction to be LEED certified,” says Rod Dobish, Duquesne’s executive director of facilities management.

Among its energy-saving mechanisms, Des Places (pronounced "déh plah") Hall utilizes carpet, ceiling tiles and ceramic tiles made from recycled materials. A five-kilowatt, roof-top solar panel accounts for about 1 percent of the building’s energy. Additionally, the dorm's elevators are equipped with regenerative drives that generate electricity as they brake.

Des Places is also designed to save large amounts of water, and to that end, includes drought-tolerant landscaping and water refilling stations with water fountains on every floor.

“Students, instead of using bottled water, can fill up containers on each floor. At some point, we’d like to start a competition to see who can have the most energy,” Dobish says. “We’re not just delighted, but the students who live there have given it glowing reviews.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Rod Dobish

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

Two Project Pop Up tenants ink long-term leases

Last week, two Project Pop Up: Downtown retailers signed long-term leases, shedding their temporary statuses and becoming permanent neighborhood fixtures.

Dream Cream Ice Cream, located at 539 Liberty Avenue, and Boutique 208, located at 208 6th Street, each signed multi-year leases with Stabile and Associates.

Additionally, Awesome Books, which also started as a Pop Up installation at 929 Liberty Avenue, has been sold and renamed Amazing Books.

Together, they mark the first instances of temporary Pop Up ventures leading directly to sustainable local businesses.

“We are very pleased that this program continues to have an impact on Downtown,” says Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “It’s certainly playing a role in reshaping people’s ideas about Downtown.”

At Dream Cream, volunteers work a certain number of hours in the store in exchange for a portion of its proceeds going toward funding their dreams, which have included paying down debt and visiting family abroad.

Boutique 208 offers hand-crafted jewelry, art, needlecraft and repurposed furniture from more than 60 local artisans.

Since buying Amazing Books, Eric Ackland has doubled the store’s inventory and begun selling books at the Market Square Farmer’s Market every Thursday.

When it launched in November of 2011, Project Pop Up included 11 retail spaces, performance venues and installation art exhibits. Of the original 11, five remain in various forms.

Waldrup says that despite a tight real estate market, adding another round of Pop Up installations is something the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is pursuing.

“It’s definitely something we’re working on,” Waldrup says. “If there’s enough space, we’ll certainly do it.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jeremy Waldrup

VIA Pittsburgh venue 6119 seeks new space

6119, the multi-purpose event space which serves as the hub for the VIA media collective and hosts the annual VIA Music & New Media Festival will leave its current space at the end of June and is searching for new space.

Despite spending just a year in the space at 6119 Penn Avenue, VIA has hosted more than 200 artists across a plethora of mediums and gained international renown for combining concepts of art galleries, clubs, music venues and technology studios into a single space.

VIA, which launched with the aid of a Seed Award from The Sprout Fund in 2010, is already searching for a new home, but doesn't want to go far, according to Co-Director Lauren Goshinski.

“Ideally, we’d like to be in the East End, Lawrenceville, Garfield or East Liberty,” Goshinski says.

That could be a tall order. VIA will require at least 7,000 square feet of space and help from investors if it is to relocate.

“To do it properly,” Goshinski says, “we need to go bigger.”

VIA is asking its supporters it to take a six-question survey and sign a petition stating their support for VIA’s mission.

“We’d love to get as many people as possible to sign,” Goshinski says. “At the end of the day, it’s not about 6119. It’s about asking people if they want this kind of venue.”

The final three events at 6119 will go on as planned, culminating with a closing party on June 28. VIA still intends to host its annual festival in October, which it usually does at an alternative space.

“What we’ve done at 6119 has brought a lot of great attention to Pittsburgh,” Goshinski says. “It’s not just a venue and a club. I really think that Pittsburgh could become known for something like that, and we’d like to give that to Pittsburgh.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Lauren Goshinski

The Hardware Store brings a new cooperative, entrepreneurial space to South Pittsburgh

For a startup company or freelance media producer, office space can be an unaffordable luxury.

That’s why Josh Lucas, the founder of internet crowd-funding startup Crowdasaurus, had been looking to open a shared office space on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

“It’s hard to run your company in a Google Hangout,” Lucas says, referring to Google's free videoconferecing tool.  

With help from with Mount Washington Community Development Corporation and developer RE 360, he found that space at 744 East Warrington Avenue in Allentown.

Dubbed The Hardware Store, the co-working office space is designed for entrepreneurs and freelance media producers to have access to fundamental, day-to-day business needs. Among its facilities, The Hardware Store will feature 30 desks, 20 glass markerboards, a podcasting studio, a full audio production suite and a 20-foot green screen.

Having access to the space and tools to create a product is only part of The Hardware Store’s appeal, says Lucas. “The benefit to a small company occupying this space is that they get to interact with the collaborative network of people coming through the doors. We’re using our network of entrepreneurs to get the space rolling.”

Anyone may apply to rent a desk in the space on a month-to-month basis, which includes access to all of The Hardware Store’s facilities. Day rates are also available for smaller project work.

The Hardware Store will be ready for tenants to begin occupying the shared space by July 1.

For more information on The Hardware Store, contact Crowdasaurus.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Josh Lucas

Program empowers residents to take over vacant properties

There are about 750 vacant properties in Wilkinsburg, and every year, the borough must prioritize which vacant or condemned buildings need to be demolished for safety reasons.

“Since we started tracking vacant properties in 2008, we’ve demolished 88, but had more than 150 added to the list,” says Tracey Evans, executive director of the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation.

Now, residents and business owners whose properties are adjacent to vacant or condemned lots can help the community begin to tackle the problem through the Vacant Property Recovery Program. Wilkinsburg is one of 33 communities taking advantage of the Allegheny County-run program.

Through the program, applicants may apply to recover vacant properties which are next to their own. Once the county reviews each application, appraises the property and removes all existing taxes and liens on it, applicants whose plans for the property are approved may purchase the lot at the appraised price and redevelop it as they’ve proposed.

In adding space the vacant spaces to their own properties, those who recover property help the community by assuming the cost of demolishing vacant structures and getting the land back onto tax rolls.

“We’ve been fairly successful in getting folks to use it, and use it in different ways,” Evans says.

Some residents have added side yards to their homes, business owners have expanded their on-site parking and community organizations have planted gardens.

“We’ve also used it for affordable housing projects though the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation and ACTION Housing,” Evans says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Tracey Evans

Frick Art & Historical Center announces $15 million expansion project

A groundbreaking this Thursday will kick off a three-phase, $15 million expansion project at The Frick Art & Historical Center in Point Breeze.

The family home of industrialist Henry Clay Frick and his daughter, philanthropist Helen Clay Frick, will add several new buildings while restoring an old one as well.

Phase 1 will involve the construction of a new Orientation Center between the Frick’s café and Car and Carriage Museum. The entirety of the Frick’s facilities will remain open throughout the Orientation Center’s construction.

“We didn’t want to build a pseudo-historic building,” says Frick Director Bill Bodine. “We thought we ought to go with a contemporary style that uses elements found within the site.”

Those elements include slatted wooden roofs, tile floors and Pennsylvania sandstone. The Orientation Center, which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2014, will also house a new museum gift shop.

That will free up the location of the current gift shop in the Frick children’s playhouse — an original structure from 1897 — to be restored as a resource for children during subsequent building phases.

Bodine says the playhouse, which contains a 19th century bowling alley, will eventually be used to engage children with the kinds of games and entertainment that were common during Helen Clay Frick’s childhood.

Phases 2 and 3 will include a new carriage gallery, an education center in the area currently serving as the carriage gallery, a community center and additional collection storage facilities. The Frick has engaged the architechtural teams of Schwartz/Silver and Associates of Boston and Pittsburgh-based Loysen + Kreuthmeier to design the expansions and renovations. 

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Bill Bodine

Eat + Drink: Carnegie Coffee, Casa Reyna, the return of Vincent's Pizza and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly look at epic local nom noms.

-  The Carnegie Coffee Company, a new coffee shop combined with an existing pharmacy in an old post office in Carnegie, will open to the public on June 15, and hold its grand opening on June 22.

Husband-and-wife-team Ashley Comer and Greg Romeo, who own The Medicine Shoppe in Carnegie, will move that business into the old Carnegie post office at 132 East Main Street.

“We really wanted to model our business after a European–style coffeehouse,” Comer says. “We want it to be a destination, and we wanted to give the people in Carnegie their own place.”

The 2,500-square-foot shop, which will be the first in western Pennsylvania to offer Illy Italian coffee, will also serve pastries from local bakeries and food from Sausalido in Bloomfield.

-  Casa Reyna, the product of three years’ effort from Reyna Foods owner Nicola DiCio, held its soft opening last Friday. The 72-seat Strip District restaurant next door to Reyna Foods on Penn Avenue offers authentic Mexican cuisine, focusing on dishes specifically paired with a variety of house-made tortillas. Casa Reyna also offers a vast selection of tequilas and Mexican beers.

-  Vincent’s Pizza Park in North Braddock, which closed in May of 2012 after more than 50 years in business, will reopen on June 16. Toni Zollner, the daughter of restaurant founder Vincent Chianese, has spent the last year updating and renovating the building, which includes the installation of a new neon sign that closely resembles the original.

-  Franktuary’s Lawrenceville location is now serving brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The menu, which will change weekly, includes locally farmed breakfast sausages served in buns made from waffle batter, a breakfast take on poutine and pancakes made with a gluten-free brownie batter, as well as a selection of breakfast cocktails.

On several Sundays throughout the summer, 15 percent of the restaurant’s sales will go to one of several local community organizations.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Ashley Comer

Bayardstown Social Club offers shared space for grilling and get togethers in the Strip District

Do you wish you had a backyard? A space for summer grilling? Maybe just good outdoor party to go to? Not only does the Bayardstown Social Club in the Strip District offer all those things, it aims to change the way Pittsburghers socialize.

The brainchild of Pittsburgh innovation firm Deeplocal, the combination shared outdoor space and social club offers members a place to grill, drink and talk in atmosphere that’s open, yet intimate.

The idea grew out of Deeplocal’s weekly office cocktail hour.

“The parks are great, but they’re more about families. They’re not really for socialization,” says Deeplocal’s Nathan Martin. “If you live in the city and you don’t have a yard, you can go there and have a casual social experience and meet people.”

After just a month of planning and work on the 5,000-square-foot vacant lot, Deeplocal employees and volunteers transformed it into a space that’s distinctly young, but with an old-fashioned twist.

The club plans to designate certain hours as “adult swim” — cell-phone free time, which it will enforce with cell phone jamming equipment. Laptops are banned entirely.

Bayardstown will also schedule some of the popular local food trucks to come by and offer members dining options.

"We want to promote some of the local businesses," Martin says. "Franktuary has come down and sold kits for grilling."

Martin says this summer’s club activities will include live acoustic music, shared mix-tape sessions and urban camping.

Membership costs $10 per month and is limited to 250 members. At the end of every month, the club will clear its membership roster and reopen its rolls to the public. Non-members may attend with members for $5 per evening.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Nathan Martin

Eat + Drink: The Livermore, Pitaland and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly round-up of news you can consume with your mouth.

-  The creators of Bar Marco in the Strip District have secured the space at 126 Highland Avenue for The Livermore, a new coffee and cocktail joint. It will fill the space previously occupied by The Waffle Shop, an art space/restaurant/internet reality show which started as a Carnegie Mellon class project and lasted four years before closing in July 2012. Livermore is scheduled to open in late June.

-  Lucy Nguyen’s banh mi cart, a seasonal favorite in the Strip District, is back up and running in the parking lot next to Bar Marco. From spring to late fall, Nguyen, who spends winters in her native Vietnam, makes sandwiches of marinated and grilled chicken or pork topped with all manner of herbs and pickled vegetables.

-  Pitaland in Brookline, a Mediterranean bakery and caterer, recently finished renovations to its space and has added an on-site café. Open Monday through Saturday, the café offers breakfast until 11 a.m. and lunch and dinner options until 7 p.m.

-  The café at Sunny Bridge Natural Foods, a specialty grocery store in McMurray, recently unveiled a new catering menu. The café’s chef, Patty Caputo, designed the menu to include dishes made from local beef, chicken and eggs, as well as vegetarian and vegan items. The menu is augmented by selections from the store’s gluten-free bakery, says Sunny Bridge owner Gina Snyder.

-  For the fifth straight year, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will host a farmers’ market. Farmers at Phipps, part of the conservatory’s healthy food and sustainability initiatives, will run every Wednesday from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and offer customers a wide variety of locally grown organic produce from local farms.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Gina Snyder

WindStax opens new plant in the Strip District

When he started WindStax, a wind turbine manufacturing company, Pittsburgh native Ron Gdovic had a design idea and a two-garage space in Apollo.

As soon as it was time for his company to expand, he knew wanted to move back into the city — particularly into an old building.

The new ones “just don’t have any soul,” he says.

The roughly 4,000 square-foot former aluminum factory at 3220 Smallman Street in the Strip District did the trick. Now, Gdovic and his crew have finished setting up shop and started producing some of the most innovative wind turbines on the market.

“We like to promote craftsmanship,” Gdovic says, adding that his shop uses locally-sourced and environmentally-friendly materials in nearly all aspects of production.

The turbines come in columns of 20 and 40 feet and contain just three moving parts. They are made of okoume plywood and held in place with frames built almost entirely out of locally-produced PVC piping and nylon bolts. The batteries the turbines charge are regulated by electronic systems that are also made locally and powered through small solar panels on the tops of the columns.

What makes Gdovic's turbines special is their durability, extremely light weight, and low cost per watt of power. Because they're relatively inexpensive — some can be had for as little as $7,500 — they’re practical for both commercial and residential use.

“Most can power a house for days without wind,” Gdovic says.

While most of WindStax’s business has come from commercial clients such as energy companies, Gdovic says that his new factory has spurred local interest, and that he is talking to potential local clients about harnessing wind power in the city, especially along the rivers.

Learn more about WindStax at their Open House at the factory on May 31.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Ron Gdovic

Aspinwall Riverfront Park gets new design

Nearly a year after soliciting input from the community as to what its new park should include, the proposed Aspinwall Riverfront Park has a design in place.

“The community has really embraced it and made it their own. We have hundreds of volunteers,” says Susan Crookston of Aspinwall Riverfront Park, Inc.

The design is the work of Pittsburgh-based Environmental Planning and Design. Called Raindrops to Rivers, its unifying theme is a celebration of water.

“There’s the east park, where people can have picnics, throw Frisbees and enjoy the playground,” Crookston says. “The west park has walking trails and more nature-oriented things.”

Crookston says that given its proximity to the Allegheny River and nearby railroad tracks, the eventual plan is to connect the park to an extension of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. The park will also include a barge on the river from which people will be able to rent kayaks and canoes.

The real innovation behind Aspinwall Riverfront Park, Crookston says, is the idea of integrating a public park with a for-profit business in the form of the marina that exists on the premises. The marina was going to be sold for commercial development in 2010, but Crookston led a grassroots fundraising effort that allowed Friends of the Riverfront to buy the land — marina and all.

According to Crookston, the western half of the 10-acre park could open by the end of this year.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Susan Crookston

City of Asylum wins $300,000 ArtPlace grant for a garden to garden project on the North Side

ArtPlace America awarded City of Asylum/Pittsburgh (COA/P) a $300,000 grant yesterday for the group's plans to build the Pittsburgh Central Northside Artway Connector.

Chosen among 54 national grants from 1,200 entrants as an exemplary plan of creative place making, the garden-to-garden Artway will connect two new COA/P projects — the Alphabet Reading Garden on Monterey Street and the Alphabet City literary center in the Garden Theater complex on North Avenue, which POP City profiled in January.

The Artway will feature a series of both temporary and permanent literary-themed installation art works.

“It’s coming from a very interesting and important coalition of funders,” says COA/P Communications Manager Elizabeth Baisley. “It’s an enormous privilege and pleasure to be receiving a grant from ArtPlace America, and we’re very excited about what it makes possible for us.”

ArtPlace America is a collaborative effort between 13 national foundations, six of the country’s biggest banks, the Domestic Policy Council and the White House Office of Management and Budget. It seeks to help facilitate the introduction of art into communities for the development of creative spaces.

The organization has awarded more than $42 million in 134 grants to 124 projects in 79 communities. Its grant to COA/P marks the first time a Pittsburgh project has received an ArtPlace America grant.

Among its many activities, COA/P renovates dilapidated houses to serve as both public works of art and residences for writers from other countries living in exile.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Elizabeth Baisley

Eberle Studios finds a new home in Homestead

When eminent domain claimed Ed Eberle’s ceramics studio as part of the Route 28 expansion in 2010, Eberle and his wife were determined not to open a new studio until they found the right space.

Two-and-a-half years later, Eberle Studios is back and almost fully operational at its new location in Homestead.

“We bought this building in September of 2011 and took 18 months to fix it up,” Eberle says. “It’s still not all done but it’s more than functional. I’ve been working here since last fall and my wife’s been working since December.”

The new studio takes up about 12,000 square feet between the two stories of an old Elks Lodge at 229 East 9th Avenue. It includes plenty of workspace on the first floor and a 5,400-square foot gallery on the second. Because the building is nearly fireproof, it’s ideally suited to an artist like Eberle, who works mainly in clay.

“There’s no wood. It’s all metal and brick exterior, and metal on the inside. It’s open. There are no pillars,” Eberle says.

While the studio isn’t officially open yet, Eberle says he expects to host a grand opening once all renovations are complete. In the meantime, he says that anyone is welcome to visit, and may do so by calling him at 412-401-3851 to schedule an appointment.

“We’ve had people in pretty much every week,” he says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Ed Eberle

Eat + Drink: The Beer Market, dog-friendly dining and more

Pop City's weekly update on Pittsburgh's food-related goings-on.

- The Beer Market, which opened over the weekend at 110 Federal Street near PNC Park, invites customers to try a selection of over 500 beers, 50 to 60 of which are available on draft. Customers are invited to bring whatever food wish to enjoy with their beers. In addition to offering live music three to four nights a week, the Beer Market will provide menus from nearby restaurants which offer delivery.

- The Double Wide Grill on East Carson Street has sectioned off a portion of its outdoor seating and opened a new dog patio. Customers may bring their dogs to their tables through a special entrance, then order and pick up food at a service counter. Owners must keep their dogs on leashes no longer than six feet, and the dogs are invited to dine from a special canine menu.

“We have hamburgers, chicken, dog biscuits and tofu for the vegetarian dogs,” says Steve Zumoff, one of Double Wide’s owners. “If people want to book doggie showers or birthdays, we can do that, too. We’ve had a few requests already.”

- The Market Square Farmer’s Market opens its 2013 season tomorrow and will run every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the end of October. The market will host a core group of regular and specialty vendors offering fresh produce and small-batch foods including wines, salsas, dips and baked goods. To celebrate its 2013 opening, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy will give away 6,500 recycled tulip bulbs from planters around the city, asking only a suggested donation of one cent per bulb.

- The Rumfish Grille, which opened in Bridgeville last month, is adding an outdoor seating area called Rumfish Beach. The area will include a lounge, fire pits, sand and water. It will be available for private events and will have its grand opening shortly after Memorial Day according to restaurant spokesperson Dixie Smith. Rumfish Grille, co-owned by Clint Pohl and Chef Chet Garland, focuses on serving fresh seafood in a relaxed, upscale atmosphere.

- Square Café, a breakfast and lunch mainstay in on Braddock Avenue in Regent Square, will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Sunday, May 19th. The planned celebration is open to the public and will include live music and family-oriented entertainment for customers to enjoy while waiting for tables.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Dixie Smith, Steve Zumoff

New report shows growth in Downtown Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership released its State of Downtown Pittsburgh 2013 report Monday and the results should come as no surprise: Downtown is growing.

The report boasts that in the last year, Downtown has seen increases in leased office space, transportation usage and, most notably, the residential market.  

“This confirms what we’ve been talking about for a couple years now,” says Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup. “It’s the same growth in Downtown Pittsburgh from all perspectives.”

Downtown has added 632 rental residential units since 2010, and by the end of 2012, 96 percent of all Downtown rental units were occupied. Nearly 2,400 units are in development, about 400 of which are currently under construction, per the report.

“We’re becoming more of a residential community,” Waldrup says. “That, to us, is really exciting and something we want to see more of.”

The 2000 U.S. Census showed there were fewer than 6,500 residents in the Greater Downtown area. In 2010, there were nearly 7,800. The report estimates that since 2010, Greater Downtown has added roughly 900 new residents.

Downtown and the Central Business District are home to more than 126,000 jobs and nearly half of Greater Pittsburgh’s market for office space.

Transit use has increased, too. The T has seen an 18 percent spike in use since the North Shore connector opened, and bus ridership rose 3 percent after three straight years of decline.

“It’s essential not just for our continued growth but to our continued existence,” says Waldrup. “We need to invest in what we currently have, but also look toward the future.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jeremy Waldrup

GoBurgh hosts Pittsburgh's first-ever Transit Day

GoBurgh, a coalition of organizations with a shared mission to promote vibrant and sustainably funded transportation infrastructure in Pittsburgh, hosted the city’s first-ever Transit Day last Thursday.

“Transit is big here,” says Chris Sandvig of the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, which manages GoBurgh.
“Transit Day’s point is to call attention to the fact that there are a lot of people who rely on the system. We don’t generate tax revenue without transit, and it’s costing us employers.”

Transit Day arose out of PCRG’s efforts toward advocacy fundraising. The proposed 35 percent transit service cuts that were narrowly averted last year thanks to state assistance would have cost more than $300 million to Allegheny County taxpayers.

“We’re starting a conversation locally about what sort of transit system we want,” Sandvig says. “We’ve had no vision of a transit system of the future since Skybus. We have all these great ideas about light rail and commuter rail, but what comes first? That’s the conversation we need to have.”

The Transit Day celebration, which took place in Market Square, offered attendees free Eat’n Park smiley cookies and entertainment from comedian Gab Bonesso and Meeting of Important People’s Josh Verbanets.  

Additionally, commuters who used the Carnegie, Wilkinsburg and Showcase Cinema Park and Ride installations were treated to free coffee and Transit YES! buttons.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Chris Sandvig

City debuts first green bike lane in Bloomfield

Last week, Pittsburgh joined the growing number of cities with green lanes — dedicated bike lanes separate from the rest of the street and easily identifiable by color.

A 200-foot stretch of road on Liberty Avenue near the Bloomfield Bridge is the first color-coded, dedicated bike lane the city has installed since painting blue lanes on the Birmingham Bridge in 2007.

The project was made possible with a $23,000 grant from Bikes Belong, a national cycling advocacy organization of retailers and suppliers. Pittsburgh became eligible to apply for the grant after sending a delegation which included city and county officials to a conference in Minneapolis.

“Minneapolis wanted to have us learn more from them,” says Bike Pittsburgh Executive Director Scott Bricker. “Against all odds, we have a great bike community here.”

Color-coded bike lanes in areas which see high car and bike traffic help make drivers, cyclists and pedestrians more aware of the spaces they occupy, and reduce the chance of conflict in areas that might otherwise be confusing to motorists — such as where Liberty Avenue turns from two lanes to four near Main Street and the Bloomfield Bridge.

The lane coloration isn’t standard road striping paint, but a mixture of thermoplastic and epoxy, designed to be slip-resistant and last between three and five years — significantly longer than standard road paint.
 
Bricker says he hopes the city will soon adopt color uniformity for more bike lanes so that there is even less confusion.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Scott Bricker

Gateway at Summerset accepting applications

The Gateway at Summerset, a new rental community overlooking Homestead and the Monongahela River from the southern end of Squirrel Hill, already has residents living in its first completed building, and more scheduled to move into its second building later this month.

Co-developed by Ralph A. Falbo, Inc. and Pennrose, The Gateway, which is located inside the Summerset at Frick Park development, has already pre-leased many apartments in as-yet-unfinished buildings. The six-building rental complex is “pretty full through mid-July, though we do still have some available in the first building,” says Pennrose’s Stephanie Fuchs.

Though its initial target demographic was young professionals, Fuchs says that the community's close proximity to the rest of the East End, South Side and Waterfront, as well as a host of on-site amenities, has drawn a wide array of tenants.

“We have some people who are downsizing and looking toward retirement, and we have a handful of people who are relocating for residency opportunities,” Fuchs says. “It’s so close to the city, but when you pull in, it has that traditional neighborhood feel.”

In addition to one-bedroom units, the community has two different styles of two-bedroom units, each of which are customizable and contain multiple amenities, including private laundry facilities in each unit.

The community also offers a plethora of shared spaces, including a community center, pool, fitness center, basketball court and playground.

To learn more about The Gateway at Summerset, visit its website or call 412-422-1144

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Stephanie Fuchs

Indigo Square inks tenants, seeks more local businesses

The commercial space in East Liberty’s Broad Street business district continues to grow. The area, known as Indigo Square after the hotel soon to occupy it, will include a holistic medicine center, an oil and vinegar retailer, a kitchen and bath design showroom and a pair of independent fashion boutiques. 

Peace, Love & Zen Wellness Center will occupy a space at 6023 Broad Street that was formerly a bakery. Among its services, the center will offer acupuncture, a Himalayan salt cave and an Aquascape Zen bed.

Olive & Marlowe, which currently deals in specialty olive oil and balsamic vinegars out of a space in the Strip District’s Pittsburgh Public Market, will also move to the new East End district in a space at 215 North Highland Avenue.

Luxe Home & Design, also on North Highland, is a new venture from Splash owners John Nicklas and Brent Hugas, who already have showrooms in Cranberry and Murrysville.  

One of the independent fashion boutiques is owned by Kiya Tomlin, wife of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

The businesses will consume about 8,500 square feet of commercial property out of the four-block, Wedgwood Group-owned space.

Michelle Stewart of leasing agent Colliers International says that they hope to fill out the remaining space with as many local businesses as possible. She says Colliers is looking to attract a coffee shop and a microbrewery, and is also looking into yoga studios, florists and high-end furniture dealers.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Michelle Stewart

Eat + Drink: Outdoor dining spots and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's roundup of restaurant and food news.

Cure, Chef Justin Severino’s Lawrenceville restaurant, has obtained a liquor license. While the restaurant will offer a full-service bar, its full menu of wines and specialty cocktails won’t be ready for another few weeks. “Right now, they’re just testing some stuff out,” says restaurant spokesperson Gita McCutcheon.

- A new addition to Pittsburgh’s food truck scene, the PGH Crepes cart sets up at the corner of Penn Avenue and 20th Street on weekends and makes its way around town during the week.

“We really like the carts in general. We think it speaks well the entrepreneurial spirit of Pittsburgh,” says Leigh White of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “It’s a new twist on things, and a nice compliment to the many restaurants downtown.”

To find the crepe cart, follow it on Twitter @pghcrepes.

Waffalonia, the Squirrel Hill-based makers of Belgian-style Liège waffles, will open a kiosk in Schenley Plaza in mid-May.

And now that the weather is good, it’s time to dine outdoors. Here are some of the latest openings:

Make Your Mark Artspace & Coffeehouse in Point Breeze opened its serene back patio last week.

The garden portion of Pusadee’s Garden in Lawrenceville is ethereal and lovely.

The partially re-done patio at Kelly’s Lounge in East Liberty is open, as is the spacious back patio at Lawrenceville’s Round Corner Cantina.

Marty’s Market in the Strip has tables around the outside of its corner location, as well as stools at its garage-door coffee counter.

Orange chairs adorn the patio at Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina.

The Porch in Oakland has some of Pittsburgh’s best outdoor seating, and plenty to go around with school out for the summer.

Biddle’s Escape, a coffee shop tucked away off the main drag in Regent Square, has a spacious and tree-shaded deck.

And Il Pizzaiolo, in both Market Square and Mt. Lebanon has outdoor spaces. In the Mt. Lebanon location, the charming terrace in the back just opened and in Market Square, you'll find tables outside the new location next to Starbucks.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Gita McCutcheon, Leigh White

New grocery store Downtown? One developer has a plan

Residents of Downtown Pittsburgh haven’t had a grocery store since Seventh Avenue’s Rosebud Fine Food Market and Deli closed in 2010. If all goes according to developer Ralph Falbo’s plan, that could soon change.

Falbo is in talks with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation about opening a grocery in the Thompson Building at 435 Market Street in Market Square.

“One of the things that’s missing in Market Square is a place to buy groceries,” Falbo says.

The tentative plan, a joint-venture with the owners of Vallozzi’s restaurant, would offer high-end produce, fresh bread, fine meats, cheeses and wines, among other basic grocery items. His plan also includes a bar, a multi-purpose area that could be used for events such as wine tastings, and a basement kitchen for cooking prepared foods.

The grocery would occupy about 4,600 square feet of real estate, and Falbo says he hopes to draw a women’s fashion boutique into one of the building’s upper floors.

Earlier this month, the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corporation filed an application with Allegheny County for a $250,000 Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund grant in support of opening a Downtown grocery store.

Falbo initially pursued the establishment of a Downtown grocery in 2005, when he sought to bring an upscale market into the former G.C. Murphy’s building, also near Market Square.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Ralph Falbo

Zip line course opens in North Park

Those with the urge to strap themselves into harnesses and fly between trees hundreds of feet above ground may now satisfy that urge in North Park.

On Saturday, Go Ape Treetop Adventures held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its latest outdoor adventure course, nestled in the pine forests of Allegheny County’s largest park.

After about 30 minutes of safety training and instruction, participants traverse across the course’s five sections, comprised by a myriad of rope ladders, bridges, swings and cargo nets that link its five zip lines. The lines — which stretch more than 1,400 feet around the canopy — move between platforms. Participants complete the entire course in two to three hours without ever touching the ground.

“There are tons of things to do in North Park, which is very attractive for us,” said Chris Swallow, Go Ape’s business development director. “We knew Pittsburgh was a market that appreciates outdoor activity.”

Admission runs $55 for adults and $35 for children ages 10-17. Children must be at least 10 years old to attempt the course, and participants must weigh less than 285 pounds.

Swallow said that Maryland-based Go Ape, which installs courses exclusively in public parks, expects the course to draw between 12,000 and 15,000 people in its first year. The North Park installment is the company’s fourth in the United States.

For more information or to book reservations, visit the course’s page on Go Ape’s website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Chris Swallow

Mackey Lofts nearing completion in Uptown

The Mackey Lofts, a new housing complex situated in a former Uptown bakery at 1819 Forbes Avenue, is nearing completion, with tenants expected to move in by June.

The lofts are the latest project from ACTION-Housing, a local organization which designs and builds sustainable, accessible housing for working-class residents and people with physical disabilities.

“What we’re trying to do with the Mackey Lofts is shift how we integrate supportive housing into a community,” says Andrew Schull, ACTION’s communications coordinator. “One of the reasons we were attracted to Uptown is its proximity to Downtown and Oakland.”

The lofts will contain 43 total housing units. Eighteen units are designed with special accessibility features, and 10 of those units will cater specifically to the needs of deaf and deaf-blind residents.

Schull said that ACTION-Housing has been accepting applications for the lofts since January and 20 applicants have already been approved. While the lofts are ACTION’s first installation in Uptown, the organization has bigger plans for the area.

“We just received an allocation of tax credits for two properties up the road on Fifth [Avenue],” he says.

The two buildings, which will contain 23 and 24 units, respectively, will house residents of the MyPlace program, which helps house young people who are transitioning out of foster care.

Those  interested in the Mackey Lofts should contact Carol Kelly of Supportive Housing Management Services at 1-800-238-7555.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Andrew Schull

Riverlights celebration, concert to mark reopening of Point State Park fountain

It’s been a long time since anyone has seen the Golden Triangle at its best. On June 7, that will change when the fountain at Point State Park is turned on for the first time in four years.

“For a lot of Pittsburghers, [this] is their equivalent of the Golden Gate Bridge or the Gateway Arch,” says Stephan Bontrager of Riverlife.

The fountain has been shut off since 2009 as a part of the major renovations to Point State Park, which started in 2007. At a total cost of $35 million, the park’s facelift represents “the largest park project in commonwealth history,” according to Bontrager.

The evening festivities, dubbed Riverlights at The Point, will serve not only to celebrate the restarting of the fountain, but as the opening to the 2013 Three Rivers Arts Festival. Following a 5 p.m. ceremony during which the fountain will be turned on, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros will play a free concert, for which local band Donora will open.

Complementing the park’s new LED lighting for the weekend will be a public artwork, “Pittsburgh: Spectral Ascending,” which will be visible after sunset from June 7 to 9. A collaboration between artist Yvette Mattern and Pittsburgh’s Lightwave International, the piece consists of six projectors atop PPG Place, projecting light onto the fountain’s 150-foot column of water.

“The overarching theme of June 7 is putting the best face on Pittsburgh,” Bontrager says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Stephan Bontrager

Upcoming mayoral forums address design, planning and public policy and greenspace

How will Pittsburgh’s next mayor ensure that public policy makes good design and planning central to the City’s growth?

That is one of several questions to be asked of Pittsburgh’s mayoral candidates at an upcoming forum to be hosted by the Design Center in Downtown Pittsburgh.

“The next mayor will provide leadership on community and economic development across the city,” says Stephen Glassman, president and ceo of the Design Center. “It is important for people interested in good design and planning to hear each candidate’s vision for Pittsburgh’s future, and equally important that our voices be heard by the candidates.”

Glassman says Pittsburgh is at an important inflection point, and with the proper visionary leadership can continue to not only expand its economic base, but provide a model for best practices to the rest of the country.

Each candidate will make the case for why he is capable of providing that leadership, as well as answer additional questions prepared by the Design Center.

Questions will also be taken from audience members, on topics ranging from blight and vacant properties, to historic preservation, riverfronts and multi-modal transportation.

Candidates Bill Peduto, A.J. Richardson, Jack Wagner, and Jake Wheatley are confirmed to participate in the forum, according to the Design Center. It will be moderated by Diana A. Bucco, vice president of The Buhl Foundation.

The Mayoral Candidates Forum on Design, Planning, and Public Policy will take place on Wednesday, May 8th, at Point Park University’s GRW Auditorium in University Center at 414 Wood Street, Downtown. It will run for 90 minutes, beginning at 6:00 p.m., with a reception to follow.

To RSVP call 412-281-0995, or e-mail design@judith-kelly.com.

And tonight, the Pittsburgh Greenspace Alliance and the League of Women Voters are hosting a mayoral forum on the importance of greenspace in the city. Candidates will be asked to discuss their plans as mayor for the expansion and integration of greenspace in Pittsburgh, including parks and trails. 

The Candidates’ Forum on Greenspace takes place at 6:00 p.m.tonight at the Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman Street, in the Strip District. For information and to RSVP, click here.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Stephen Glassman

Eat + Drink: open-air Sienna Mercato; Andys Wine Bar on the street; Embody Natural Health

- A three-level, multi-restaurant concept known as Sienna Mercato is coming to Downtown Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.

Owners of Market Square’s Sienna Sulla Piazza have recently bought the former Trombino building at 942 Penn Avenue, and plan to build a glass-enclosed, rooftop dining space on the building’s top level. The enclosure will be retractable, creating an open-air dining space in warm weather.

Each floor in the project will be a separate restaurant concept, which owner David Gilpatrick says will be unique from each other, as well as Sienna Sulla Piazza. Chef Matthew Porco, also of the Market Square restaurant, will lead the Sienna Mercato project.

Gilpatrick says each restaurant will be sit-down, casual dining, and each floor will feature a bar.

- Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week (PCBW), a celebration of the region’s local brewing culture, continues this week until Saturday, April 27th. The festivities include beer tastings, exclusive PCBW releases, dinner pairings at local restaurants, and brewer meet-and-greets.  For more information visit the PCBW website.

- Andys Wine Bar has taken it to the streets. Located in Downtown’s Fairmont Hotel, the bar has added sidewalk dining and a lunch menu of international street food, including ramen, sushi, bánh mì, and more. Andys continues to feature live jazz in the hotel’s lobby, Tuesday through Saturday, every week.

- Embody Natural Health, a juice cafe and studio, will mark its first year in Lawrenceville with a celebration this evening from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The cafe offers fresh, organic juice and smoothies, and features sidewalk seating.

Owner Aimee Woods also offers healthy food at her shop that is ready-made and available for take-out, what she calls healthy convenience food. Among other items, Embody now offers sushi from Penn Avenue Fish Company.

Woods also provides health coaching at the studio, helping clients plan for individual lifestyles. Yoga, juice cleanse, and other services are also available.


Writer: Andrew Moore

The Wheel Mill now open, city's first indoor bicycle park

Pittsburgh’s first indoor bicycle park, The Wheel Mill, is now open in Homewood. The 80,000 square-foot facility is the first of its kind in the Commonwealth, and is one of just a few in the nation.

Located at 6815 Hamilton Avenue, the facility offers year-round riding opportunities for mountain biking and BMX, with with skill levels ranging from beginner to advanced. Lines are marked in green, blue, and black diamond, corresponding to difficulty.

Current features at The Wheel Mill include the expert jump line, mini ramp and micro mini-ramps, foam pit, beginner mountain bike room, and street plaza (similar to a skatepark), as well as the 7-and-under area.  A lounge area is also open.

Owner Harry Geyer says several ramps are repurposed favorites from the former Mr. Smalls Skate Park, reconfigured in the new setting. Construction of the lines was completed in-house by Geyer—who also owns a reclaimed lumber business—and other local builders.

Several features under construction and opening soon include the beginner jump line, technical mountain bike line, and flow mountain bike trail section. A banked oval track and intermediate jump line are also coming soon.

Geyer credits the city’s dedicated bicycle scene—including Velomuse, the Pittsburgh Trail Advocacy Group (PTAG), and Bike Pittsburgh—for fostering an engaged cycling culture in the city. “That’s really the only reason that this was a feasible idea, is because everybody else laid the foundation,” Geyer says.

The Wheel Mill is open Monday to Friday, 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Harry Geyer

TOWNHOUSE pop-up home goods and furniture store coming to East Liberty

TOWNHOUSE, a new pop-up furniture and home goods shop, is opening soon in East Liberty. The shop will feature goods from Weisshouse, The Shop in East Liberty, and Florida-based designers Industry West.

The retail collaboration is a project of partner organization Epic Development, a Pittsburgh-based economic development firm. Epic’s Michael McAllister says TOWNHOUSE will offer modern pieces—including chairs, stools, rugs and prints—currently unavailable in Pittsburgh, aimed for the city’s growing design community.

The storefront will also serve as an experimental street-level coworking lounge for members of The Beauty Shoppe, a partner in TOWNHOUSE.

McAllister says the store is committed to high design and quality at a low cost, with the majority of items priced under $200.

And since the project is a pop-up, TOWNHOUSE will close just eight months later, in December.

This is not the first time Epic has brought together members of Pittsburgh’s creative community. Last year, the firm launched Tapped, a pop-up beer garden event series that activates empty lots with local food, beer, and music. McAllister says Epic plans to continue Tapped in 2013.

TOWNHOUSE opens Friday, May 3rd, and is located at 6016 Penn Avenue, in East Liberty. It will be open Tuesday through Saturday, and by appointment Sundays and Mondays.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Michael McAllister

Locomotive Lofts opening soon in Lawrenceville, 34 new market-rate apartments

Locomotive Lofts, a residential adaptive-reuse of the former H.K. Porter Co. building, is on track to open May 1st in Lawrenceville. Developer Ernie Sota says the project is the most state-of-the-art apartment complex in the neighborhood.

Locomotive Lofts LP is a partnership between Sota and Tony Rodriguez. Paul Rodriguez is the project architect.

Located at the corner of 49th and Harrison Streets, Locomotive Lofts includes 34 market-rate apartment units, and was designed to achieve LEED Gold Certification. Each unit features numerous energy efficiency measures, such as LED lighting, web-based thermostats, and Energy Star appliances. Sota says units have been air-tested and are draft-free.

The former office building was once home to H.K. Porter Co., a manufacturer of compressed air locomotives. Total redevelopments costs were $5.4 million.

One- and two-bedroom units range from $1,050 to $1,850, and secure, off-street parking is also available.

Sota says green landscaping and the integration of art and natural materials was done to create a warm feeling at the redeveloped site. A sculpted entry wall features the fossil-like image of plants, created by pressing bamboo into wet stucco. And several site walls feature a combination of custom railing and weathering steel panels.

Sota Construction Services recently achieved LEED Platinum Certification for its own office building, earning the most LEED points ever awarded to a project in Pennsylvania, and the fifth-highest score in the entire LEED system worldwide. Sota is also responsible for developing Pittsburgh’s first net-zero home—a home that generates as much energy as it uses annually—on the South Side.

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Ernie Sota

Penn A Caster Loft Offices want to rock the Strip

An office building in the Strip District is getting a rock and roll makeover. Its exterior walls will soon be wrapped in the likeness of a giant, backlit guitar as the building formerly known as 3030 Penn Avenue becomes the Penn A Caster Loft Offices.

Tusk Development bought the 24,000 square-foot building late last year and wanted to give it a new identity. So when co-owner Jim Genstein returned from a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, they were inspired to give it a new guitar-centric theme.

In addition to the exterior changes, an interior lobby has been redeveloped and now features a guitar touchscreen that controls a video wall and streaming music. Lami Grubb Architects is the project architect.

The three-story building was built in the early 1900s as a warehouse and stored salt as well as the horse-driven carriages that drove goods to and from the nearby Allegheny River.

Genstein’s partner Andy Schaer says the office space is ideal for a tech or creative services company. The loft offices feature brick walls and exposed beams, as well as abundant natural light.

The building is wired for any tech company’s needs—including battery backup for uninterrupted power—and could be built-out to meet tenant needs. The site also includes over 100 parking spaces.

The name Penn A Caster is derived from the Fender Telecaster guitar, which has been played by countless musicians including Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, and George Harrison.

Schaer expects the new guitar-clad facade to be complete within the next eight weeks.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Andy Schaer

Pittsburgh's Bus Rapid Transit effort gets grant from Rockefeller Foundation

The initiative to get Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) rolling between Downtown and Oakland has been given another boost with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The grant will support research, communications, and community outreach efforts to engage and educate the public on the benefits of BRT.

GetTherePGH, a BRT Stakeholders Advisory Committee, facilitated by Sustainable Pittsburgh, welcomed last week’s announcement as well the opportunity to continue working with the community to raise awareness about the BRT project.

Though specifics of the grant are yet to be determined, Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Court Gould says the Rockefeller Foundation has shown an interest in enabling citizens to have a voice in determining what BRT projects should look like, let alone whether they should be implemented at all.

BRT is a form of bus transit that operates similarly to a rail system—though less expensive to implement—with dedicated stations, route priority, and platform fare collection, among other efficiency measures.

The Rockefeller Foundation has awarded $1.2 million to be split among four cities: Nashville, Boston, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. The funding initiative is part of the foundation’s Transform Cities effort.

“Rockefeller having competitively identified Pittsburgh in the echelon of the other three is a significant validation of several years of concerted effort here to study the benefits of Bus Rapid Transit,” Gould says.

Pittsburgh’s BRT effort is an outgrowth of recommendations from the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s 2009 Transit Development Planning Process, a comprehensive review of the agency’s entire system.  BRT served as a key component of serving Downtown to Oakland, and to the East End, Gould says.

The Bravo Group, a public relations firm, has been selected to lead the outreach effort in Pittsburgh.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Court Gould

New apartments coming to Downtown's quiet First Avenue

Developer Todd Palcic is planning to bring 35 new apartment units to a quiet, village-like corner of Downtown Pittsburgh.

The project is a renovation of the eight-story former Graphic Arts building located at 422 First Avenue on one of Downtown’s least-traveled corridors. “It’s almost like a mini Greenwich Village,” Palcic says, because it’s quiet and clean, yet bounded by the much busier Boulevard of the Allies and Fort Pitt Boulevard.

And though it’s quiet, the First Avenue apartments will be near many Downtown institutions, including the Art Institute of Pittsburgh—which is just across the street—and Point Park University, which Palcic says will also soon occupy two existing buildings on First Avenue.

Palcic has also bought an adjacent lot at the First Avenue site to be used for tenant parking.

The First Avenue apartments will be a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments, though the specifics are to be determined. Half of the units will feature views of the Monongahela River, South Side, and Mount Washington. Indovina Associates Architects are the project architects.

Palcic is looking for ideas for the first-floor retail space, as well the built-out, semi-finished basement. “Between the two I think there are a lot of possibilities,” he says.

The developer has had success in Downtown’s Cultural District to the point that he says there’s very little development work left in that neighborhood. Palcic has already created 24 condo units in Downtown, at L'Enfant Lofts and other projects. And the soon-to-open Lando Lofts development will add 27 new apartment units at 907-909 Penn Avenue.

Renovation of the structure is expected to begin next year, and Palcic hopes to have it completed in 2015.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Todd Palcic

Award nominations sought for upcoming Community Development Summit

With the  Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG) celebrating 25 years at its upcoming Community Development Summit, the organization is currently seeking nominations for the awards ceremony portion of that event.

Categories include the Community Development Awards and the Neighborhood Leader Award in Memory of Bob O'Connor.

Community Development Awards are given to projects or programs that create a positive, lasting impact on the physical, social, or cultural fabric of a community, says Katie Hale, PCRG’s Neighborhood Policy Manager.

Recent winners include the Gardens of Millvale, a borough-wide greening initiative that includes land acquisition for community gardens, education outreach, and the engagement of over 300 volunteers.

Hale says the Gardens of Millvale has become “one of the most thriving community garden efforts in the region.”

Another recent Community Development winner is the Green+Screen streetscape beautification initiative of the Penn Avenue Arts District. A project of the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation, Green+Screen engages designers to use sustainable materials to “screen” the view of empty lots or parking lots.

And the Neighborhood Leader Award, given in memory of Bob O’Connor, recognizes an individual who exemplifies the late mayor’s dedication to neighborhood improvement.

The deadline for nominations is Friday, April 19th, and the awards ceremony will be held on May 21st.

The Community Development Summit will take places May 21-22nd, at the Omni William Penn Hotel, in Downtown Pittsburgh. The summit will include four mobile workshops, highlighting revitalization efforts in Pittsburgh neighborhoods, as well as several keynote speakers and networking events.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Katie Hale

Schenley Drive to get skinny; Panther Hollow watershed restoration

Schenley Drive is going on a diet.

The road, which cuts through the Bob O’Connor Golf Course, will get a “skinny street” makeover as part of the upcoming Panther Hollow watershed restoration project.

Because of stormwater runoff, Panther Hollow Lake—which is at the bottom of the watershed in Schenley Park—has gone from a recreational pond to a polluted eyesore.  And its plight is just one of the more visible effects of the park’s stormwater runoff problem.

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (PPC) is implementing a number of new green infrastructure designs to improve the park’s stream and groundwater recharge health.

The “skinny street” project, which will narrow the 40-foot-wide road to approximately 26 feet, will divert more than 3 million gallons annually of runoff by introducing porous surfaces to the roadway. It is the third pilot project in the restoration project.

Through public meetings, PPC learned that many residents feel unsafe in the park because of speeding vehicles.

“We could have a really big impact by narrowing the street,” says Erin Copeland, senior restoration ecologist with PPC.  “We have the opportunity to improve so many different aspects of watershed health, and recreational experience in the park.”

Adjacent to the road, infiltration berms will channel water into rain garden wetlands, and a new porous pathway for pedestrians and bicycles will run along the road, separated by a buffer of plants. This design will allow water to soak into the ground slowly and prevent erosion.

The pathway would still be paved—not crushed limestone or gravel—but the application will actually soak in water to the subsurface layer. Cyclists will still be welcome in the Schenley Drive roadway, Copeland says, where sharrows will be painted.

Designs for the “skinny street” have yet to be reviewed Department of Transportation traffic engineers.  Copeland says the first two pilot projects are shovel ready and could begin as early as this summer.

PPC is completing the green infrastructure projects with support from the Department of Public Works, City Planning, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, Alcosan, as well as the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, and PPC volunteers.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Erin Copeland

Eat + Drink: Il Pizzaiolo in Market Square; Aspara Cafe; The Steer and Wheel food truck

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


- One of Pittsburgh’s newest food trucks is The Steer and Wheel, which serves antibiotic- and hormone-free beef burgers. All beef is sourced locally from Penn's Corner Farm Alliance, ground fresh daily on the truck, and served on Mediterra Bakehouse breads and rolls.

Burgers included the Chesapeake (Old Bay rub); The Bacon Squared (balsamic bacon jam, chive cheddar, lettuce, tomato, bacon on an onion roll); and the Andre (bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, smoked gouda, grain mustard on an onion roll).

To find The Steer and Wheel food truck, look for them at The Coffee Buddha (often along with the PGH Taco Truck), or follow them on Twitter or Facebook. 412-230-7323.

- Apsara Cafe has opened in the South Side, a new restaurant offering Thai and Cambodian cuisine. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. 1703 East Carson Street. 412-251-0664.

- Il Pizzaiolo’s opened a second location in Market Square, serving its highly regarded and authentic Neapolitan-style pizza. Like the Mt. Lebanon original, the new restaurant’s pizzas are cooked in a wood-burning ovens, built by Italian artisans.

Il Pizzaiolo replaces the former Lubin and Smalley flower shop at 8 Market Square (between Starbucks and Moe’s Southwest Grill). The 40-seat restaurant includes a bar on each level of the storefront space. 412-575-5853.

- On Monday, April 22nd, Downtown’s Vallozzi’s will host a benefit dinner and film screening of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. The event is a benefit for the Western Pennsylvania & West Virginia Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Tickets are $20, and can be purchased online or at the door; for more information contact: rachealleelacek@gmail.com. 226 Fifth Avenue. Monday, April 22nd, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.


Writer: Andrew Moore

Who's Downtown? Population is younger and they use transit

Downtown Pittsburgh's resident population has increased by more than 30% in the past 12 years, and its population is getting younger.

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) released two new reports—with information from the 2012 Pedestrian Traffic Study and the 2012 Downtown Pittsburgh Resident Survey—that shed light on who Downtown residents are, and what they do.

"This research provides us with excellent insight that can be utilized in business attraction and retention initiatives, highlighting the growth and progress we have seen throughout Downtown over the last few years," said PDP President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup in a statement.

The studies show that 45% of Downtown residents are under the age of 40, and 27% are under the age of 30, compared to 47% and 26% in 2010, respectively.

As for the general pedestrian population, over half travel to and from Downtown using the public transit system, either the “T” or a bus, according to the PDP.

The report also says that pedestrians spend an average of $108 per week at Downtown establishments, including $40 on food and drink. About $37 is spent on retail per week, $13 on sporting events, $11 on entertainment, and $7 on miscellaneous services.

More than half of Downtown households are now comprised of more than one person, an increase from 40% in the 2010 resident survey.

And overall, Downtown residents are happy with their chosen neighborhood; 74% of  respondents expressed that they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their Downtown living experience, and on a scale of one to nine, the average score was eight.

Residents cited the availability of entertainment, restaurants, and events in a walkable environment as contributing to the favorability of living downtown.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Leigh Ann White, PDP

Federal Hill final phase now under construction, 44 new homes in Northside

The third and final phase of the Federal Hill development is underway in the Central Northside, a project that has brought a total of 44 new homes to the historic neighborhood.

The current phase (2A) of six new townhomes brings to a close the five-year project.

Federal Hill is a project of the Central Northside Neighborhood Council (CNNC), S&A Homes and the URA, along with architects Rothschild Doyno Collaborative. The three- and four-bedroom homes range from 1,400 to 2,300 square feet, and units on the corners of each block include a third-floor, open-air balcony.

All of the new homes are under contract with buyers. Andy Haines of S&A Homes says his company receives continuous calls of interest for Federal Hill.

“It's one of our best selling developments throughout the three states we work in,” Haines says.

Every home in each previous phase has also been sold. Home prices range from $130,000 to $220,000, with individualized upgrades up to $80,000. The majority of new homes were built along Federal Street, however a few infill homes were constructed on adjacent Alpine Street.

Federal Hill is one of several redevelopment projects in the neighborhood, including a new branch of the Carnegie Library, which opened in 2009, several new businesses including El Burro Comedor and Crazy Mocha, and the ongoing redevelopment of the Garden Theater Block.

Haines says that although the project has been challenging in terms of financing—with funds from state and local agencies—the satisfaction level has been very high.

“The end result is we made a difference on the street, we made a difference in the neighborhood,” Haines says. “It's a good investment of public dollars.”


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Andy Haines

Upcoming mayoral forum to ask candidates how they plan to support neighborhoods

Though the number of candidates continues to change, one thing is for sure: Pittsburgh will elect a new mayor on November 5th. And so a local community group is asking, how will that new mayor work with individual neighborhoods to continue revitalization throughout the city?

Next Thursday, April 11th, the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG) is hosting a mayoral forum to ask that question and more. Each candidate will explain how they plan to support, equitably and transparently, the revitalization of neighborhoods and catalyze investment in them.

“A lot of Pittsburgh’s rebirth over the past several years really came out of the work that’s been going on in neighborhoods and the leadership there,” says PCRG’s Chris Sandvig.

Sandvig says it’s important for neighborhood leaders to know how each candidate’s mayoral decisions would impact their communities, in terms of federal funding, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, and more.

“The next mayor has a huge impact on whether we continue our rebirth as a city, and our position nationally and internationally,” Sandvig says.  “Everything we see from both a national and local perspective, neighborhoods are really where it’s at in the future for a city's vitality, and also their competitiveness.”

PCRG is a coalition of community-based organizations that advocates for strong, healthy neighborhoods in Allegheny County.

State Representative Jake Wheatley, City Councilman Bill Peduto, and former State Auditor General Jack Wagner will be in attendance, according Sandvig. The three candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor. The event will not be a debate.

The event, co-sponsored by the Design Center, is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Union Project, 801 North Negley Avenue, on April 11th at 6:00 p.m.  To RSVP by Friday, April 5th, contact csandvig@pcrg.org.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Chris Sandvig

TALKPGH to host talk shows in each of Pittsburgh's 90 neighborhods

Throughout April a transparent box truck will visit each of Pittsburgh’s 90 neighborhoods to conduct mini “talk shows,” an effort to gather the ideas and opinions of city residents on public art and urban design.

The project is called TALKPGH, a mobile public art project through the Department of City Planning. Local artist Jon Rubin—of The Waffle Shop and Conflict Kitchen—is facilitating these conversations, along with his film crew and City staff.

Information gathered through this process will aid in the development of ARTPGH and DESIGNPGH, components of PLANPGH, the City’s first ever comprehensive plan for growth over the next 25 years.

Morton Brown, the City's Public Art Manager, says the point of TALKPGH is to reach residents that wouldn't usually attend planning meetings, by creating an event that is novel and engaging.

The talk shows—conducted in the truck bed—will be recorded and will air as a web series this summer on the TALKPGH website. A compilation of the talk shows will also be presented in a public format, though details are yet to be determined.

Project leaders hope the experience will encourage residents to become more involved with the PLANPGH process, and to attend its upcoming community meetings.

TALKPGH is looking for community liaisons, interviewees, and suggested film locations for each of the city’s 90 neighborhoods. Residents can sign up at the project’s website, or by calling 408-800-3176.

Additionally, there will be six “open house” meetings for ARTPGH and  DESIGNPGH. For planning purposes, the city has been divided into six study areas. Upcoming meetings will be held in each of the six study areas, and include Monday, April 22nd (drop in anytime from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.), The Kaufman Center, 1825 Centre Avenue; and Tuesday, April 23rd (drop in anytime from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.), Schenley Ice Rink, 10341 Overlook Drive. 

For a full list of community meetings, visit the PLANPGH website.

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Morton Brown

Urban Stitches hopes to build a community of sewers

Although Tameka Reed comes from a long line of seamstresses, she learned to sew in her middle school home economics class. So when she learned that many area schools had dropped sewing from their curriculum, she decided to open a business that would help the craft continue to thrive.

Reed’s recently opened Urban Stitches shop is a sewing lounge that she hopes will inspire crafters of all ages to pick up needle and thread for the first time, as well as provide a supportive, social environment for more advanced sewers.

At her Monroeville facility Reed offers weekly classes for adults and youth, in addition to open studio hours for independent work. Her Introduction to Sewing class allows newcomers to use sewing machines for the first time, and complete a series of small projects.

"Learning the basics is a good thing to get you out of catastrophies," Reed says, "and I've had several wardrobe disasters over the years that sewing came in handy for."

Additional workshops include dressmaking, children’s wear, alterations, and contemporary quilting, as well as men’s fashion. Classes range from $35 to $150 for single-day and multiple-day workshops.

Reed says her fashion sewing classes are geared for working women wanting to make or amend career clothing that is hip and contemporary.

Reed hopes Urban Stitches can introduce sewing to new audiences—especially within Pittsburgh’s vibrant maker community—as a creative, useful skill. "Things are finally starting to trend back toward things made by hand, and crafting, and things that you can make and put your own personal little stamp on," she says.

In addition to Urban Stitches, Reed teaches sewing at Westinghouse High School in Homewood through the YWCA's After School Program.

Urban Stitches is located at 3948 Monroeville Blvd, Suite 1 in the Presidential Village Plaza, Monroeville.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Tameka Reed

CCAC celebrates opening of K. Leroy Irvis Science Center

The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) celebrated the opening of the new K. Leroy Irvis Science Center on Monday at its Allegheny Campus on the Northside. The five-story, LEED certified building features state-of-the art science equipment, e-learning capabilities, and supports biotechnology, microbiology, and astronomy, among several other programs.

The 65,000-square-foot science center contains eight classrooms, numerous study areas and 16 laboratories. A rooftop observatory, capable of electronically projecting images into classrooms, is scheduled to be completed soon.

"You can do so many things with all of those variations in technology," says Campus President Donna L. Imhoff. "There's so many different ways to teach now."

The building is named for the late State Representative K. Leroy Irvis, a champion of community colleges in the Commonwealth.  His co-sponsorship of the Pennsylvania Community College Act of 1964 created the state's community college system, and led to the founding of CCAC three years later. “If not for him, community colleges wouldn't exist at all,” Imhoff says.

The science center, located at 808 Ridge Avenue, was designed by Hayes Large Architects and has earned a LEED Silver Energy rating.

Other programs that will be served by the new facility include biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, geology, and physical science.
 

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Donna Imhoff

Pittsburgh office building earns highest LEED ranking in state, fifth best in world

One of the Pittsburgh region's leading construction companies has a new headquarters that's now among the "greenest" in the world.

Sota Construction Services Inc. achieved LEED Platinum Certification recently for its own office building, in Bellevue, earning the most LEED points ever awarded to a project in Pennsylvania, and the fifth-highest score in the entire LEED system worldwide.

The office building includes passive and high efficiency active radiant slab heating and cooling; natural ventilation; use of natural materials including straw bale and cob wall construction, reused and recycled materials; day lighting; rainwater harvesting; and low water use fixtures.

Ernie Sota, President of Sota Construction Services, says that while many new LEED structures are criticized for high energy consumption, this building is actually performing better than energy models had projected. "We focused on energy here very much from the original design," he says.

In addition to having an efficient thermal envelope, rooftop solar panels are producing up to 70 percent of the building's energy needs.

Sota says the building's use of cob wall construction—an ancient building method that is a mixture of sand, clay, and straw—demonstrates the viability of it and other "self-assembled" materials in Southwestern Pennsylvania. "Those natural building materials," he says, "[are] possibly a pathway to a kind of unlimited green future for all of us.”

Design and construction was done by a large local and international team, including evolveEA, Studio d’Arc , ARUP International, Building Science Corporation, Iams Consulting, Tudi Mechanical, Greenweavers, and Construction Junction.

The Green Building Alliance will offer tours of the building during its Earth Day at Ernie’s event on Thursday, April 18th, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information and to register, visit the GBA’s website here.
 

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Ernie Sota

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

New restaurant and office space to fill East Liberty development gaps

Anthony Dolan’s new development projects aim to fill in the gaps of East Liberty's ongoing redevelopment.

Dolan's company, Alphabet City Co., plans to build a 20,000-square-foot retail and office structure at the corner of Penn Avenue and Penn Circle East, across from Target. Plans also call for a 5,000-square-foot rooftop restaurant featuring outdoor seating.

Once a lead tenant is identified, construction is expected to be complete within 15 months. Oxford Realty Services is handling leasing and marketing for the project. Three existing buildings, including the current location of Yen's Gourmet Chinese Restaurant, would be razed.

Dolan says it's important for the building to be an amenity to the neighborhood and to complement the existing structures.

"Whatever happens here is going to set the tone for the rest of that block as new development moves into the core," he says.

The site is surrounded by several high-profile developments in East Liberty. Dolan praises the early development work of Mosites and that company's plans for new residential units at the Eastside III, as well as Walnut Capital's restoration of the residential Highland Building.

"But we do need a balance of office space and residential units in the core," Dolan says, "to make sure that we have enough daytime population to feed the businesses that are currently there and ones that want to locate there in the future."

David Morgan, of Morgan Associates, is the project architect. Dolan says Morgan has a strong history with the neighborhood and was an original board member of East Liberty Development, Inc.

Alphabet City Co.'s second project in East Liberty is renovating existing warehouse structures near the future Ace Hotel. At 5915 and 5921 Baum Boulevard, the refaced buildings will be converted for retail and restaurant uses. Dolan's goal is to have these structures available by the end of this year, around the opening of the Ace Hotel.

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Anthony Dolan

City of Asylum/Pittsburgh to open literary center in Northside's Garden Theater block

City of Asylum/Pittsburgh has found a new home for its planned literary center Alphabet City. The non-profit announced Monday it would open the center—which will contain a bookstore, café and performance space—in the Northside’s prominent Garden Theater block on North Avenue.

COA/P co-founder Henry Reese says the new location will allow for heightened activity and greater accessibility to a broader community.

“By building Alphabet City in the heart of Allegheny City Central’s redevelopment commercial district, rather than in the residential interior, we are able to grow beyond our original plans,” he said in a statement.

Allegheny City Central is the new, rebranded name of the Central Northside neighborhood.

The center was originally planned for a triple lot in the Mexican War Streets, but that location—which required zoning board approval—was challenged by two neighbors. The proposal was rejected by an Allegheny County judge last November.

Alphabet City will be located in three redeveloped storefronts of the former Masonic Temple. Reese says the historic structure’s façade will not be altered, but the interior will reflect COA/P’s informal, salon-style events with a “living-room-feel.” It will have a 150-person capacity.

The project architects are Loysen + Kreuthmeier, who designed the nearby Allegheny branch of the Carnegie Library. The design will incorporate artwork made from more than 1,000 hand-written alphabets in 62 writing systems, collected from Northsiders and residents from around the world.

Since 2004, COA/P has provided sanctuary to literary writers exiled and under threat of persecution. Its mission also includes transforming blighted properties and energizing public spaces through public art with text-based components.

Reese says the new location meets COA/P’s goal to be an important change agent in the community.

“Helping make sure that the Garden Theater complex becomes redeveloped is really important to our community, and being a part of that is really gratifying to us,” he says.

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Henry Reese

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership releases annual report; public art kick-off this weekend

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) released its annual report yesterday during its membership meeting highlighting achievements of the past year and its goals for 2013.

Guest speakers—including County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl—acknowledged the progress Downtown has made in recent years, and emphasized the need to attract young and new residents to the region.

Market Square was heralded for its continued role in drawing visitors and residents to Downtown. Along with the seasonal Market Square Farmers Market, numerous concerts, and services in partnership with the Carnegie Library, 85 additional events occurred in the square during 2012.

“It’s truly become a town square for Pittsburgh,” said Thomas Harrington, board chairman of the PDP.

The report acknowledges the completion of the North Shore Connector, a milestone for improving connections between the North Shore and Downtown. According to the report, the PDP led efforts to develop a model for sponsorship solicitation that led to the expansion of the free fare zone to the new North Shore stations.

Also in 2012, a 332 percent increase was seen in volunteer assistance for various projects Downtown; the Peoples Gas Holiday Market was introduced to Market Square; seven Sidewalk Activation projects were approved, representing $341,441 in total new investment, as well as six Façade Improvement Projects, totaling $400,484 in new investment.

In 2013 the Paris to Pittsburgh program will be expanded with a new $350,000 grant from the Colcom Foundation, and a renovated Mellon Square will reopen to the public.  In May, the PDP’s second annual State of Downtown Pittsburgh report will be released.

This weekend, the PDP will kick-off its new public art initiative with the nine free performances throughout the weekend by the Zany Umbrella Circus, as well as workshops and a mini-museum in Market Square.  

Also this weekend, Sisters of the Lattice—who bill themselves as "willfully conjoined techno-mystics"—are inviting audiences to a screening of their new film and to meditate in one of 10 individual saunas on Liberty Avenue.

“This is all about making Downtown Pittsburgh a unique and interesting place for people to come and visit, or stumble upon ...” said Jeremy Waldrup, PDP president and CEO.

Writer: Andrew Moore

Dairy District coming to Carrick, redevelopment of Brownsville Road corridor

Pittsburgh's only operational dairy is now the center of redevelopment in Carrick.

Community leaders launched the new Dairy District effort—a planning and design initiative—on Monday at Colteryahn Dairy, where they hope the corridor can be transformed into a destination with quality retail, dining and office space. The dairy, founded in 1893, is located at 1801 Brownsville Road.

The dairy is partnering in this effort with Economic Development South (EDS), a non-profit community development corporation that works across municipal lines and whose focus is on corridor-based development. EDS serves the Boroughs of Brentwood, Whitehall and Baldwin and the City of Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Carrick and Overbrook.

EDS Executive Director Greg Jones envisions ice cream shops, restaurants and other complimentary businesses opening in historic storefronts surrounding the dairy.

"We're trying to create more of a regional destination along a stretch of Brownsville Road that hasn't had investment in quite a number of years," Jones says.

The effort is funded in part by a $50,000 grant from the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Renaissance Fund (NRF). NRF is a program that provides community groups with resources to create a development vision plan, and was created by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Design Center. Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak has given additional funds to the Carrick Community Council for the project.

Desmone & Associates Architects has been hired to design streetscape improvements and to develop a vision for revitalizing existing storefronts through a community planning process.

According to Rudiak, depending on the outcome of the design process, Colteryahn Dairy is prepared to invest private funds in future improvements to the streetscape. She says a highlight of the process would be to reopen the former Colteryahn Dairy storefront to sell ice cream and other products.

"It doesn’t have to be complicated," Rudiak says. "Sometimes all you need is a new coat of paint and a new sidewalk, and something can look brand new. But we are looking for something different, something creative."

In 1998, Colteryahn Dairy invested in a $5 million upgrade to their plant in Carrick. Though there were once numerous dairies throughout Pittsburgh, Colteryahn's is the last operational facility within city limits.

The Dairy District Project is a joint initiative of Economic Development South (EDS), the Carrick Community Council and the Colteryahn Dairy management team. It is one of several studies and ongoing redevelopment projects currently targeting the several-miles-long Brownsville Road corridor.

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak; Greg Jones

SiX funding: Connect Your City projects to bridge gaps in Pittsburgh; happy hour event next week

Thanks to a new series of Sprout Fund projects, life in Pittsburgh will get more connected.

Connect Your City (CYC) is a series of 14 unique projects aimed at building connections between Pittsburgh’s many neighborhoods and across generations, cultures, and communities. CYC grew out of a recent Social innovation eXchange (SiX) event, a partnership between Pop City, the Sprout Fund, and the Pittsburgh Foundation, among others. 

Projects include the Friend-Field Postcard from Felipe Casteblanco and James Southard which will be the largest group portrait taken in Pittsburgh of residents of Garfield, Friendship, and Bloomfield. The postcard will then be mailed across neighborhoods. And Song for Pittsburgh, from Jennifer Myers, will place six singers in six different neighborhoods performing the same song at the exact same time. The one-day performance will take place on April 21st.

An RFP was announced at the event last November. Of 30 applicants, 14 projects were recently awarded $1,000 grants.

Next Wednesday, March 20th, grantees will present 90 second pitches of their projects at a happy hour event at the Shadow Lounge, 5972 Baum Blvd in East Liberty, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The happy hour will be one of the final events to be held at the Shadow Lounge’s current space, which will close in the coming weeks.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Sandra Hartkopf

Conflict Kitchen's new home is Oakland; new expanded menu

Conflict Kitchen has a new home in Oakland's Schenley Plaza. The take-out restaurant, which only serves cuisine from countries that the United States is in conflict with, will begin serving an expanded menu from its new kiosk location on April 1st.

Co-director Jon Rubin says earlier plans to move downtown fell through because of changes in the Golden Triange's rental market. But he sees a strong future in the Oakland location, with its proximity to universities, libraries, and the plaza's own seasonal cultural offerings.

While they've lost interior space that a downtown location could have offered, Rubin believes they've made up for it in high-quality public space.

"It's really Pittsburgh's only public plaza," he says, in terms of a large, relaxed, multi-use space.

The eatery is planning weekend dinners and other special events to be held at the plaza. Conflict Kitchen joins other take-out kiosk businesses and The Porch at Schenley.

At the original East Liberty location, Conflict Kitchen had served Cuban, Venezuelan, and Afghani cuisine, among others, but offerings were limited to one or two items under each incarnation. At the new location the menu has been expanded to 10 to 12 items.

Conflict Kitchen will serve its Iranian menu through June, in recognition of that nation's summer elections. Items include the ground beef kebab Kabab-e Kubideh; Kookoo Sabzi, an egg frittata served on nan; and Khoresht-e Fesenjan, pomegranate and walnut chicken on stead rice.

Plans for future concepts include North and South Korean, as well an Israel-Palestine version of the project.

Hours will be 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
 

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Jon Rubin

A new bike sharing system is coming to Pittsburgh

A new bike sharing program is in the works for Pittsburgh, a service that will enhance the city's ever-growing bicycle culture.

The 500-bike system planned for Pittsburgh is expected to debut in summer 2014. The service will give users unlimited "free" 30 to 60 minute rides through annual or 24-hour memberships. Bikes, which are available 24/7, can be returned to any of the 50 solar-powered stations in the system.

Bike Pittsburgh's Scott Bricker says the service will be a game changer for cycling in the city, and will help to mainstream bikes as a mode of transportation. "It'll be much easier to integrate bicycling into daily life for regular people," he says.

A preliminary map of potential bike-share stations shows locations throughout Downtown and Oakland, as well as in the East End, North Side, and South Side.

Bike sharing systems typically involve making bicycles available throughout a city, with corrals located at strategic transportation centers. They allow users to ride without owning a bike, and are ideal for visitors as well as residents making quick one-way trips.

The Pittsburgh Bike Share Partnership (PBSP), a newly formed non-profit, announced plans for the system on Monday during an event at Bakery Square. At that facility a smaller-scale bike-share program is available to commuters between Carnegie Mellon University and Google.

A $1.6 million grant from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program will help fund the $4 million bike share project.

Bike share programs already exist in over 200 cities worldwide, including Paris, with 20,000 bicycles, and the Hangzhou Public Bicycle program in China, which at 66,500 bicycles is the largest in the world. And several American cities, including Denver, Minneapolis, D.C., Boston, and Miami Beach have also launched bike shares.

PBSP is an alliance of the City of Pittsburgh, Bike Pittsburgh, and Walnut Capital.

Two upcoming public information sessions will allow residents to learn more about the proposed system: 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 2nd at CMU, McKenna-Peter-Wright Rooms; and 12 p.m., Wednesday, April 3, 2013, at Point Park University’s Lawrence Hall Ballroom, 201 Wood Street.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Scott Bricker

Pittsburgh Public Market will relocate to Penn Avenue, more than double in size

The Pittsburgh Public Market is moving to a new location in the Strip District and will double in size to nearly 25,000 square feet.

The market's new home, at 2401 Penn Avenue—directly across the street from Mullaney's Harp and Fiddle—is at the fringe of the Strip District's busy retail core. Cindy Cassell, of Neighbors in the Strip, believes the market will help draw pedestrian traffic into new areas, as well as build connections with Lower Lawrenceville.

Other nearby businesses have begun to enliven the street, including restaurants like Bar Marco and Savoy.

The building will be air-conditioned, and will feature new infrastructure for food preparation. Cassell says a commercial kitchen is also in the works, and expects it to be operational within a year of opening.

Although the building is currently a nondescript cement structure, Cassell says NITS, which operates the market, is planning to add new doors and windows among other facade improvements. Aesthetic changes, including murals, are also under consideration.

The market will leave its current location in the Pennsylvania Fruit Auction & Sales terminal this summer. Disruptions to the historic building are planned as part of The Buncher Co.'s riverfront development.

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Cindy Cassell

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

MBA Building Excellence Awards highlights the region's best in construction and renovation

The Master Builders’ Association of Western Pennsylvania held its annual Building Excellence Awards ceremony last week at the Heinz Field East Club.

Although there were a total of eight winners in as many categories, the MBA's Jon O'Brien highlights first time winners, Rycon Construction, Inc., for their work at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.

Other winners include Three PNC Plaza & Fairmont Hotel, by PJ Dick Incorporated; Chevron Science Center, by Burchick Construction Company, Inc; BNY Mellon Center Exterior Rehabilitation, by Burchick Construction Company, Inc.; Wheatley Center Renovations & Additions, by Landau Building Company; Carr Hall Renovations, by Massaro Corporation; MAYA Design, by F.J. Busse Company, Inc.; and Convention Center Riverfront Plaza, by Mascaro Construction Company, L.P.

Rycon Construction won in the category of New Construction Under $10 Million for the Frank A. Cassell Hall. The project architect is FortyEighty Architecture.

O'Brien says some have asked the Master Builders’ Association (MBA) why there isn't a separate award highlighting green building.  He says that while not all projects are LEED certified, all winners do have some aspects of green design or building practices. "It's kind of the commonplace that we all do it," he says.

Submissions to the competition are accepted for work completed in the past three years. The award ceremony was held last Thursday, February 28th, at Heinz Field East Club.

Winners are chosen based on performance in the following six categories: design and craftsmanship, project teamwork, innovation, overcoming challenges, client satisfaction, and green building practices.

 
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Jon O’Brien

Over $800,000 awarded for conservation, recreation at future Allegheny Land Trust site in Richland

Redevelopment of the former Pittsburgh Cut Flower property in Richland Township has received a huge financial boost: the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced it will invest $509,500 to the project, along with a $300,000 contribution from the Colcom Foundation.

The site, which includes 150 acres of undeveloped land, will be conserved as open space by the Allegheny Land Trust (ALT).  The DCNR's contribution is through a state conservation and recreation grant.

Thanks to those recent investments, ALT now has 75% of the needed $1.4 million purchase price.

The Colcom Foundation has previously supported the effort with a $50,000 grant that was used to bring the property under contract with ALT and the site's current owner.

The property has been vacant for 20 years with dozens of unused buildings at the site. Although ALT plans to permanently protect 80% of the site, which consists of ponds, streams, meadows and woodlands, the remaining 30 acres will be used for a variety of economic development projects.

ALT's Roy Kraynyk says a recent planning charrette with community members produced a number of possible uses for the former commercial site, including a community farm, an environmental learning lab, and perhaps even a solar  energy farm.

The land under conservation will be open to passive recreation, such as hiking and fishing, and will likely include historical as well as natural interpretations of the site.

Carol Zagrocki, of the Colcom Foundation, said in a statement that the conservation values of the property include biodiversity, water management, natural scenery, and restoration.

"The land has captured a charitable and conservation ethic in the local community. It is a privilege to support Allegheny Land Trust in advancing the conservation ideals of Colcom's late founder, Cordelia S. May," she said.

The ALT project is one of 198 statewide that has received a total of $26.5 million for recreation and conservation through the DCNR's Community Conservation Partnerships program.
 
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Roy Kraynyk


Morningside rising: Ola's Herb Shop, Capoeira Angola; and coming soon: The Bulldog Pub

Ola's Herb Shop is not located in a busy retail district, and that's fine with owner Ola Obasi.

On a sleepy corner in Morningside, Obasi's shop is a multi-use space that is dedicated to enhancing the personal wellness of all members of the community. It's a center for herbal medicine, energy work, and lifestyle coaching, but also the production facility for Obasi's all-natural product line, Nourishing Botanicals.

And Obasi's husband, Eric Biesecker, also teaches Capoeira Angola, the Afro-Brazilian martial art and fight dance, at the shop.  While the neighborhood's commercial district might be quiet, this particular storefront (typically open by appointment only) is filled with a holistic, healing energy.

Now, thanks to businesses like Obasi's and the dedication of many other community members, Morningside itself is poised for an awakening.

A new commercial structure has been built next to the neighborhood’s Rite Aid. The pharmacy itself has been renovated, as has the Morningside Market, which benefitted from the URA’s façade renovation program.

And the long-awaited Bulldog Pub & Grill—named for the neighborhood's youth football team—is expected to open on March 15th, at 1818 Morningside Avenue (just in time for St. Patrick's Day). The restaurant is a project of Morningside native Terry Golden.

Grant Ervin, Executive Director of the Morningside Area Community Council, says there has been a need for family-friendly community gathering spaces.

“There’s a big opportunity for that type of third place in the neighborhood,” he says. Ervin expects the Bulldog Pub—whose renovations are making the space even more inviting—to succeed in filling that role.

Ervin says Morningside’s lower rents have allowed entrepreneurs to develop their companies without the burden of excessive overheads. “It’s a good place if you’re looking to open a business,” he says.

 
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Ola Obasi; Grant Ervin

The Hollywood Theater's Indiegogo campaign: Go Digital or Go Dark

The Hollywood Theater in Dormont has given itself an ultimatum: Go Digital or Go Dark.

The title of its recently launched Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign is a serious one. Managing Director Chad Hunter says that there is no hard date set, but if the one-screen, 300-seat theater can't raise enough funds to transition to from 35mm film to a digital format, the Hollywood will close for good.

Hunter says it's increasingly difficult for independent cinemas to screen certain releases, with restrictions on use of DVD's, and the rarity of many film prints.

"The writing is on the wall," he says. "We can't operate effectively when these walls keep coming up from the studios."

The theater needs to raise $75,000 to make the film-to-digital conversion. The campaign began with $5,000 in seed money from last September's Pittsburgh Day of Giving.  The Indiegogo campaign has so far raised $6,622 as of press time, with 24 days to go.

The Hollywood Theater originally opened in 1933 and is one of few remaining single-screen movie houses in the Pittsburgh area. It has opened and closed several times in the past decade, but was reopened in May 2010 by the non-profit Friends of the Hollywood Theater (FOHT). The organization's long-term goal is to purchase the theater from its current owners.

And the Hollywood isn't alone in this scramble to transition. Theaters around the country are making the expensive switch—or closing up shop—including The Guthrie, in nearby Grove City, PA.

This Saturday, March 2nd, The Living Dead Festival will host a sold-out fundraiser at the Hollywood, featuring a meet-and-greet with cast members from the 1968 film by George A. Romero. The film will be screened in 35mm, with all proceeds going toward the Indiegogo campaign.

 
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Chad Hunter

MOVEPGH interactive prioritization map enables you to shape the future in transportation

There's still time to direct the course of Pittsburgh's transportation projects for the next 25 years. Residents have until the end of the day Thursday to rank a slew of proposed projects and to provide detailed feedback on specific improvements.

Last November, a series of Prioritization Workshops were held for a list of proposed projects. An online interactive map was then created based on those presentations.

Those projects appear on the map, color coded according to the type of improvement they represent, with categories such as intersection, bike/ped, and transit. Users are able to identify specific projects, rank its importance and priority level, as well as provide comments about each improvement.

MOVEEPGH is one of twelve components that comprises PLANPGH, the City's first ever comprehensive 25-year plan.

Project ideas were generated not only from MOVEPGH community forums, but also from existing planning documents developed by community organizations.

Each project was evaluated for various levels of effectiveness, and run through the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission’s Regional Travel Demand model.

Through prior efforts, five Community Goals were developed to measure the effectiveness of each proposed project. Those include options for enhanced mobility; supporting a diverse economy through sustainable infrastructure spending; safe, accessible, and healthy environments; projects that that support community and strengthen neighborhoods; and connections to natural and cultural destinations.

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Noor Ismail

Wilkinsburg CDC's Storefront Improvement Program attracts new business to the borough

When the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) set out to bring new businesses to its commercial core, it realized there was one major problem—none of the available storefronts were up to code. So the WCDC worked with the Borough of Wilkinsburg and developed a program to remedy its retail woes.

Its solution was the Storefront Improvement Program, which enables property owners to be reimbursed up to $10,000 for renovations to retail structures.

Building owner Jay Blackford recently became the first property owner to make use of the program, successfully completing renovations to his building on Penn Avenue.

And not only has the storefront been renovated, but the project succeeded in attracting a new business to Wilkinsburg. Pittsburgh Natural Chef, a catering company, has a lease-to-own agreement at the retail space, where it now operates. 

Renovations addressed structural issues, water damage, and provided electrical and lighting upgrades.  The space is now equipped for commercial food production, including walk-in freezers and coolers.

WCDC Executive Director Tracey Evans says the program, along with other façade and business improvement grants, is critical to revitalizing the borough’s commercial district.

“I think it works well with the all the other pieces,” she says. “It’s really important for us to continue to get support to get these buildings occupied.”
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source: Tracey Evans

SiX funding: Transit Tales to share stories of connecting on public transit

If you ride a bus in Pittsburgh chances are you've got more than a few good stories. And now Transit Tales, a new multimedia program, is offering a platform to share those experiences.

Pittsburghers for Public Transportation (PPT) was recently awarded $20,000 from the Sprout Fund as a result of our social innovation eXchange (SiX) on November 5th on Connecting our City. An effort to raise public awareness and the positive perception of public transit, Transit Tales seeks to engage a diverse audience with documentation and creative storytelling.

PPT’s Helen Gerhards says buses connect Pittsburgh’s communities across race, class, age, and various neighborhoods.

“They bring together people who otherwise would never meet,” she says. “We want to showcase those different communities and those lives.”

The project is a partnership between PPT, Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG) and Bricolage Production Company (BPC). Located in Downtown’s Cultural District, Bricolage will also create an interactive theatrical event out of the stories.

Story collection has begun, but PPT is also planning hub events in specific neighborhoods. Dates and times for these gatherings will be announced soon on the organization’s website.

PPT plans to share the stories—gathered from riders, vehicle operators, and others—through print, audio, and video formats via partner organizations.

PPT is a volunteer-driven organization that advocates for mass transit as essential for healthy environments, better economics, and vibrant communities.

The RFP for this project was created following a recent Social innovation eXchange (SiX) Forum with its theme of connections.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Helen Gerhards

Eastside III and $52 million East Liberty Transit Center moving ahead together

The planned Eastside III development will be centered on a new $52 million transit center and will include more than 360 apartments and 50,000 square feet of retail.

A project of Mosites Co., the $65 million transit-oriented development will complete the 14-acre Eastside development which began in East Liberty over a decade ago.

Mosites' earlier developments have brought large retailers such as Whole Foods and Target to the neighborhood. Now, rather than seeking more big-box retailers, the latest phase will be built for smaller stores complimentary to the new residential units proposed for the site.

Steve Mosites says his company is excited about building community in the larger context, as well as at the development site.

"With 360 apartments, it's a community within itself," he says.

The new multi-modal transit center will include a new bicycle parking garage, pedestrian links, and a hub for nearly 1,000 daily bus departures and arrivals. A new connection to Shadyside will be constructed via a pedestrian bridge.

Last June, the City received a $15 million TIGER IV grant for the planned East Liberty Transit Center. The transit center is being developed in a partnership between the Port Authority of Allegheny County, the URA, and Mosites. 

The URA board voted last week to sell a portion of vacated Shakespeare Street to Mosites for $1, which completes the site assembly necessary to begin development of both projects. Bids for the transit center’s development could begin as early as this summer, while the Eastside III project is expected to break ground by mid-2014.
 

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source:  Steve Mosites

Eat + Drink: Stay Tuned Distillery, La Prima Espresso, Mt. Lebanon Winterfest, chili and beer

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

- La Prima Espresso is moving its roasting operations to the North Side.

The company will continue to operate its coffee shop in the Strip District, but will move its roastery to a building it has purchased at 1500 Chateau Street in Manchester. The 4,000-square-foot building was formerly home to Synder Electric, and includes a 4,000-square-foot lot.

La Prima is moving from its longtime location in the Pennsylvania Railroad Fruit Auction and Sales building. The historic building is part of the Buncher Co.'s massive riverfront development called Riverfront Landing.  Buncher plans to demolish one-third of the structure.

- A micro-distillery is coming to Munhall.

The former John Munhall Neighborhood House will be renovated for the new Stay Tuned Distillery, which will produce and sell small-batch gins and Copper Fox Whiskey. Located at 810 Ravine Street, the distillery is expected to open this summer.

The distillery recently received a $70,000 loan from the Steel Valley Enterprise Zone Corp., to be used for building renovations and business investment.

- Mt. Lebanon's Winterfest, a celebration of hometown chili and beer, will take place this Saturday, February 23rd, from noon till 3:00 p.m. at Clearview Commons. Chili Tasting Tickets are $10 in advance; $15 day-of. Proceeds benefit Relay For Life of Mt. Lebanon.

For an extra $10, guests can taste beers from invited home brewers, including coffee, chocolate, and oatmeal stouts.
 
Writer: Andrew Moore

Great Allegheny Passage on track for spring completion; celebration date set

Mark your calendars: the final segments of the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) will soon be complete.

On June 15th, a celebration will be held to mark the opening of the new trail segments, currently under construction at Sandcastle Waterpark and Keystone Metals.

The event, titled Point Made!, will take place in West Homestead and at Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The GAP trail is a 141 mile car-free route for cyclists and hikers running from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, Maryland.  In Cumberland the GAP joins the C&O Canal Towpath, which together creates a continuous, 325-mile long trail from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.

Allegheny Trail Alliance President Linda Boxx says the idea for the GAP trail was first discussed over 40 years ago in 1973. Since then, the project has chugged along with trail segments built over time, occasionally just a mile at a time.

And in the Mon Valley, the Alliance didn’t have access to railroad properties. “We were basically negotiating with individual property owners piece by piece to put that alignment together,” Boxx says.

The event will begin a ribbon-cutting near Sandcastle, followed by a bike ride to The Point, where the party will take place. Boxx says the ride will be a bicycle parade party.

Construction of the final segments, which began last October, will actually be completed ahead of the event, by late May.

Point Made! will be preceded by a week-long bicycle ride from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh, as well as a 24-hour relay that will leave D.C. on Friday and arrive Pittsburgh on the 8th

“There will be a lot of opportunities for communities to jump in and help us celebrate this great accomplishment,” Boxx says. “So many hands over so many years.”
 
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source:  Linda Boxx

Luxury apartments recommended for reuse of former Schenley High School in Oakland

Luxury apartments may be in store for the historic former Schenley High School in Oakland.

The recommended proposal calls for a $36.9 million renovation that would create 175 apartments and a fitness center, making use of an existing gym.

Fourth River Development recently released its recommendation to sell the building to PMC/Schenley HSB Associates for $5.2 million. Fourth River was hired by the Pittsburgh Public Schools to manage the marketing and bidding of the former high school.

Fourth River’s Pat Morosetti says the panel review committee did a full evaluation of all proposals, and PMC’s stood above all the rest.

“The benefits to the community we believe stood above and beyond the others,” he says. “They’re a very focused group with a strong business model proven in the Pittsburgh market, and we expect nothing but the same from them with the proposed Schenley redevelopment."

The school board is expected to vote on the proposal on February 27th, while reserving the right to reject any bids. A public comment meeting will be held on February 25th, at 6:00 p.m., at the board's headquarters on Bellefield Avenue in Oakland.

PMC Property Group was the highest bidder. In 2011, the company had successfully bid for the same building for $2 million, and was then the lone bidder for the project. Recently, PMC successfully converted the former Verizon building, in Downtown, into apartments and the City Charter High School.

Other proposals include Kossman Development Co. and Provident Charter School, at $4.6 million with 115 units of housing and a charter school for 336 dyslexic children; AWSVPA/Edward Alexei, $4.1 million, creating the Andy Warhol School of Visual and Performing Arts; Ralph A. Falbo Inc. and Beacon Communities Development, $4 million, 123 market-rate apartments.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Pat Morosetti

Catalytic Projects Program offers new round of neighborhood development grants, apply now

A new round of grants is set to boost neighborhood development throughout Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development (PPND) is investing in organizations that work to improve communities and the quality of residents’ lives with $20,000 to $75,000 in grants and loans.

PPND’s Sarah Perry says a goal of the program is to help innovative ideas get off the ground. 

“They need to have some element of improving the well-being of a neighborhood,” Perry says. “That could be improving the face of a neighborhood, or improving the access to quality education for the kids that live in a neighborhood.”

This is the second round of funding for the new Catalytic Projects Program, which was launched last fall. Through the first round of grants, PPND invested $368,750 in neighborhood development.

The current round of funding has been expanded to include any nonprofit organization, not just traditional community development corporations.

The funding is meant to support two phases of projects: feasibility and testing, and new project implementation. For feasibility and testing, PPND hopes the Catalytic Program can push emerging ideas through the early risk-taking stages of development.

PPND is encouraging proposals that involve collaboration across sectors, neighborhoods, and unlikely partners. There will be two more rounds of funding in 2013.

The deadline for submission is February 25th, 2013.  Visit the PPND website to apply. 


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Sarah Perry

GoBurgh releases transit-oriented development study, road map for advancing region's transit

A new study was released last week making the case for transit-oriented development (TOD) in the Pittsburgh region.

GoBurgh’s Chris Sandvig says the new report offers a clear strategy for advancing TOD, a type of development he calls an economic engine where investments should be made. His organization’s previous reports have offered ideas on why TOD is important; now they’re showing how it can be done.

Founded in 2009, GoBurgh is a non-partisan transit advocacy organization, and is part of the Regional Policy program of the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG).

The report offers a county-wide framework for understanding where key TOD opportunities exist, an implementation system, as well as important actions to be taken, including policy changes.

Sandvig hopes the study can help direct public policy in Allegheny County, as well as educate the region’s developers about the benefits of TOD and the current opportunities that exist.

Recommendations include modifying transit station design and system operations; addressing gaps in funding availability for small- to mid-size infrastructure improvements; and offering a consistent source of funds for station area visioning and planning.

The study was conducted by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD) and commissioned by the PCRG under the auspices of its GoBurgh initiative.  It was funded by the Heinz Endowments.

“Coming from a national organization that works with many cities and regions to achieve TOD, I think Pittsburgh can be a model for other places trying to maximize the potential of their current transit networks,” said Abigail Thorne-Lyman, Director of CTOD, in a statement.

 
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source:  Chris Sandvig

Eat and Drink: Butcher and Rye downtown and Gaucho Wood-fired Grill in the Strip District

Eat + Drink is Pop City's roundup of Pittsburgh's food scene
 
Having turned away dozens of potential patrons night after night, Meat & Potatoes owners have announced they will open a second location nearby, Butcher and Rye, this June across from Heinz Hall in the former Palate space.   
 
“Every time I walked by Palate, I thought it would be nice (to reopen the space),” says Tolga Sevdik, co-owner with Richard DeShantz of Meat & Potatoes on Penn Avenue. “It’s such a great location.”
 
The new restaurant will seat 85 and feature a menu similar to the popular gastro pub, with perhaps slightly smaller plates. Sticking with a winning formula, it will specialize in classic cocktails, bourbon and rye. The Meat and Potatoes sous chef will move over to the new location, which promises the same farm-to-table fare that has made Meat & Potatoes an award-winning favorite.

The bar will remain on the mezzanine level with some renovation to create a more appealing front entrance. Shantz and Sevdik also plan to open a third casual dining restaurant, Pork & Beans, in Lawrenceville later this year.
 
In more casual dining, Pittsburgh’s first Argentinian parrilla has opened, Gaucho Parrilla Argentina Wood-Fired Grill at 1607 Penn Ave. in the Strip District.
 
Chef and owner Anthony Falcon, a native of Brooklyn, NY, was previously the executive chef and food and beverage director at Southpointe Country Club. Falcon says the restaurant was inspired by his Argentinian father and uncle who took one look at the Strip District and said:
 
“You gotta open something down here. You’ll sell 100 chickens a day.”
 
Located in the former Big Mama’s, Falcon has created a cozy and casual stand-and-eat and take-out spot with a sizzling selection of hearty grilled dishes, steak and vegetable  sandwiches, sausages, chicken and fish.
 
The concept is working. Since opening two weeks ago, lines have been winding out the door with patrons drawn by the smoky flavors of the hickory wood-burning fire.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Tolga Sevdik, Butcher & Rye; Anthony Falcon, Gaucho

City to sponsor Edible Gardens throughout Pittsburgh, $100,000 Cities of Service grant

As urban gardening continues to gain momentum, the City of Pittsburgh is now sponsoring a targeted edible gardens program.

Part of Green Up Pittsburgh, Mayor Ravenstahl’s new Edible Gardens program seeks to transform vacant lots into food producing spaces that not only feed the community but beautify it too.

The funds will enable neighborhood volunteers to purchase materials for constructing raised beds, purchase tools, seeds, or even fruit trees and shrubs. The program is targeting 10 to 15 low-income neighborhoods where access to fresh produce is limited.

For several years the City has supported neighborhood organizations and allowed gardening on city-owned properties. Through Green Up Pittsburgh, more than 125 green spaces have been created, says mayoral spokesperson Joanna Doven. And existing garden groups can also apply for funding.

Edible Gardens is made possible by a $100,000 Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund grant, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The funds were awarded to support two of the administration’s servePGH initiatives.

The grant also funds a city “cool roofs” initiative, where city-owned buildings are topped with reflective white paint, keeping facilities cooler and offering savings on summer energy costs. 

Of 60 applicants, Pittsburgh is one of 19 cities to receive the Cities of Service grant. Partners in the project include Grow Pittsburgh and The Penn State Center.

Applications are required, and those received by February 22 will be given priority.  Applications will continue to be accepted throughout the growing season. The first gardens are scheduled for planting in March and April. 

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Joanna Doven

Eat + Drink: Casa Rasta, Pizzarita, Texas de Brazil, Egyptian in Brookline: Isis Cafe

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

The popular Beechview restaurant Casa Rasta has reopened at a new space on Broadway Avenue, just two doors down from its original location. While patrons can still order tacos and burritos—like jerk chicken or citrus marinated pork—an expanded menu now includes appetizers, entrees, and desserts. 

Chef Antonio Fraga says these new menu items are an even better showcase of Casa Rasta’s fusion of Caribbean and Mexican flavors, including beef tongue with avocado or Isleño sauce, and a Caribbean salad with grilled pineapple, roasted corn, and spicy coconut.

The new space—at 2056 Broadway Avenue—also includes a full-service bar, though a liquor license is still pending. The restaurant seats up to 60, including a seasonal outdoor dining area. 

In the former Casa Rasta space—which sat only ten, and was primarily take-out—Fraga and his wife, Laura, plan to open a vegan and vegetarian restaurant serving Rastafarian Ital cuisine. They expect to open the new eatery within the next several months.

Casa Rasta first opened just over a year ago, in December 2011. Previously the couple had briefly operated a taco stand in the Strip District. 412-918-9683.

- Texas de Brazil has announced it will open a new, 7,500-square-foot restaurant in the South Side’s Station Square. It will be the Brazilian steakhouse’s 27th location. Seating over 200, the restaurant will include an interchangeable bar and patio space with river views.  Visit the restaurant's website to stay updated on an opening date.

- Isis Café, a new restaurant serving Egyptian cuisine, opened recently in Brookline.  Its menu features traditional Egyptian dishes—including okra tagen, duck with honey, samboussa, and fava bean falafel—with special entrees changing daily.

Isis is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, and offers a Sunday brunch.  815 Brookline Boulevard. 412-207-2485.

- Pizzarita opened recently in Shaler Township, the third pizzeria owned by the Posteraro family.  It joins Bloomfield’s Angelo’s and Grazzino’s pizza shops.  Located off Route 8 (580 Burchfield Road), Pizzarita is open Tuesday through Sunday. 412-487-1112.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore

ZipPitt plans to run zip line from Mount Washington to North Shore

Adam Young is one step closer to flying from Mount Washington to the North Shore.  The Carnegie resident is proposing a zip line that would sail from near the Duquesne Incline to the Carnegie Science Center.

ZipPitt, as the project is called, was awarded a $1,000 Awesome Pittsburgh grant last week.  The organization has also helped Young with strategizing and advising on how to make this dream of flight a reality.

 “We think it will be pretty amazing taking in the view from that perspective,” Young says.  “I think it would be great for the residents and people visiting Pittsburgh to immerse themselves into the essence of the cityscape.”

The half-mile proposed zip line would cross the Ohio River at 50 mph and with a 400 foot vertical drop. Young will use the grant funds to bring a national zip line company to Pittsburgh to conduct a feasability study.

Young says the project has verbal arrangements with property owners at the proposed take-off and landing sites.  A landing platform would be constructed at the North Shore location with enough height to prevent interference with river traffic.

ZipPitt still needs approvals and permits from the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the Army Corps of Engineers. 

Young says currently the only urban zip line in the United States is in Las Vegas, where for five blocks riders sail between buildings in that city’s downtown skyline. 

ZipPitt would cost customers approximately $30 to ride.  Young believes it would of interest to city visitors, particularly those riding bikes or renting kayaks near other North Shore attractions, as well as city residents.

Awesome Pittsburgh, which awarded its most recent grant to ZipPitt, is a local chapter of the Awesome Foundation, whose goal it is to forward the “interest of Awesomeness” with $1,000 micro grants.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Adam Young

Wilkinsburg vacant lots to be transformed with art, design

The community of Wilkinsburg is poised to transform several vacant lots with art and design.

Last fall, the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) worked with seven landscape architecture students from Penn State University to create designs for vacant lots in the borough’s business district.

Designs feature pedestrian tunnels, public art galleries, tree plantings, and a corten steel pergola. Reimagined spaces include Gazebo Park on Wood Street and the Wilkinsburg Train Station.

The WCDC Art and Design Committee recently held a public review of these designs, all of which are available online.

Youth participating in FUSE, an organization that provides artistic and authentic learning experiences for urban youth, also worked with the WCDC and Penn State students.

WCDC’s Jennifer Alfieri says the Penn State students—who traveled to the sites multiple times from State College—were successful in engaging the FUSE youth in the design process, as well as the broader community.

“We really liked that they were getting the community input into these designs,” Alfieri says.

Additionally, Pittsburgh-based mossArchitects is developing a plan for the Penn Avenue Parklet, which includes a performance stage, benches, walkways, and green space. Previous designs for the space weren’t well received by the community, but Alfieri says the current plan has gone through a successful public review process.

The Borough of Wilkinsburg maintains site control of each lot.

Proposals for the Penn Avenue Parklet, which is a high priority, will be presented to funders in the coming months. WCDC would like to see work begin at the site by the end of the year. 

The greening of Wilkinsburg is part of a greater strategic plan to revitalize the Penn Avenue business district.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Jennifer Alfieri

Overlook at West End Pointe, new townhomes to offer city's best view

A set of new townhomes in the West End will boast one of the best views in the city, adjacent to the West End Overlook park in the Elliott neighborhood.

A project of Sierra Development, LLC, The Overlook at West End Pointe will consist of four, 3,800 square-foot townhomes.  Each unit will be five stories, including a rooftop observation terrace, and a two-car garage, with four bedrooms and three full and two partial baths. The homes are listed at $890,000.

While the façade will feature Craftsman-style details, the rear will be more contemporary with large glass windows that allow the namesake view to be visible from all floors.

The view is directly at The Point and downtown skyline, offering a panoramic of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers. A rear lawn will be created adjacent to the existing overlook park.

According to Howard Slaughter of Sierra Development, the project has recently received all approvals from the City and West End community groups, and construction is scheduled to begin this coming spring.

“Without the community’s support, and without Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith’s support, we would not be able to move forward,” he says.  Slaughter hopes that the development will be an impetus for more opportunities to strengthen the community.

 The City of Pittsburgh is offering at ten year tax abatement to potential home buyers.  Additionally, the developers are offering a $50,000 deduction to a buyer who signs before February 9th.

Offered as a third incentive, a buyer will also have access to an interior designer so that each unit will be custom designed.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Dr. Howard Slaughter; Chris Ivory

La Dorita, maker of all-natural dulce de leche, opens co-working commercial kitchen

Josephine Caminos Oría grew up with the inimitable taste of homemade dulce de leche.  Her Argentine grandmother, who often lived with Oría’s family in Pittsburgh, always kept a fresh jar of this sweet spread on hand—for breakfast, dessert, or anytime in between.

Recognizing that all-natural, preservative-free dulce de leche was nearly impossible to find—much less understood—in the region, Oría began producing her own brand for sale at farmers markets in 2009. She used her Grandmother Dorita’s recipe, and named the company after her—La Dorita.

But when it came time to increase production, and expand distribution to a Whole Foods or Giant Eagle, there was just one problem—there were no suitable commercial kitchen spaces for a food startup like La Dorita.  So Oría and her husband, Gaston, have started their own.

The La Dorita Kitchen Share Space has just opened in Sharpsburg, and is a co-working space for food.  The licensed, commercial kitchen is fully equipped—standard and convection ovens, stainless steel work areas, freezers and refrigerators—but aims to offer more than just physical space.

Oría says the plan is to make the kitchen a synergistic food incubator, offering consulting on topics from insurance policies and loans to small business resources and distribution networks.  It's open to groups or individuals, and Oría hopes it can be a hub for artisan foodmakers.

A successful Kickstarter campaign, which ended last fall, raised over $50,000 to help convert the 4,000-square-foot space into the new community kitchen.  Members will also have access to a bar and dining space for special events.

Since this type of facility wasn’t available when La Dorita first began production, the Orías had to convert their home kitchen into a commercial kitchen.  With the co-working kitchen now open in Sharpsburg, the new goal is to convert an adjacent space into the official La Dorita production facility.

“Hopefully by 2014 we will be out of our kitchen and I will have gotten my dining room back,” Oría says.

La Dorita’s line of products—including dulce de leche with dark chocolate and a dulce de leche liqueur—are now available at Giant Eagle Market Districts, McGinnis Sisters stores, and Whole Foods in the mid-Atlantic region.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Josephine Caminos Oría

Bakery Square 2.0 will break ground, $100 million mixed-use development

Bakery Square 2.0, a $100 million, mixed-use development adjacent to the former Nabisco factory, is set to break ground.  Developers Walnut Capital and partner RCG Longview Fund have officially closed on the purchase of the former Reizenstein School and surrounding property.

Demolition of the former school has begun, allowing construction to commence on phase 1 of the development. The plan calls for several office buildings along Penn Avenue, with up to 400,000 square-feet of office space; 55 rental townhomes; and the construction of several interior roads and bike paths.

The development site is located across the street from Bakery Square, a $100 million redevelopment of the former Nabisco factory and several new structures. Tenants there include Google, UPMC, the Software Engineering Institute, various retail  and restaurants, and a hotel.

Construction of the first apartment building is expected to begin in March, with an opening date of June 2014.  The five-story building will include 175 apartment units and underground parking.  Rents are expected to range from $900 to $1,000 per month.

Earlier this month Walnut Capital announced it was dropping plans to develop 20 single-family homes in favor of a second apartment building, which will be similar in scope to the first.

A $2 million federal grant, secured by Mayor Ravenstahl and the URA will be used to help prepare infrastructure at the site. 


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Gregg Perelman

Allentown Pop-Up Library looks to improve life for residents

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has one core mission: to engage the community in literacy and learning.  And while the new Allentown Pop-Up Library doesn’t deviate from those principles, it does seem to go above and beyond the traditional role of a library.

Located at 1206 Arlington Avenue, in the hilltop neighborhood of Allentown, the new pop-up is part of an effort to reach city neighborhoods that fall through the cracks in terms of existing library branches.

Molly Krichten, of CLP, says the goal is to determine what services the neighborhood lacks, and what outlets—creative, informational, or otherwise—residents desire.

“We’ll ascertain what is life in Allentown like, and how can it be better, and how can the library act as a connector between the people and the resources that are available,” Krichten says.

The storefront library is small, just 750 square feet, but it offers numerous services and programming.  In addition to books, the library has an emphasis on technology—including iPads and notebook computers—as well as low-tech favorites like story time readings for kids, and board games.

Krichten says children in the neighborhood were the first to embrace the new library.

“It’s a fun place to be—it’s not a quiet library,” she says.  “It’s a place for exploration and for play and for community building.”

Because the pop-up is designed to learn what residents of Allentown actually want in their community, programming is expected to change.  On Thursday, February 7th, the pop-up will host an open house, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.,  where its staff hopes to learn what other services—for adults and youth—residents would like to see.

The library is temporary, and will close in 2014.  But when that happens, Krichten belives the library will have learned enough about Allentown that, through work with other organizations, it can continue to improve life for Allentown residents.

The Allentown Pop-Up is part of the Library in Your Neighborhood Community and Schools (CLP-LYNCS) initiative launched by CLP in 2011.  The first pop-up library was imbedded within the Pittsburgh Public Market from 2011 to 2012.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Molly Krichten

Eat + Drink: Nicky's Thai Kitchen, Sinful Sweets, Rose Tea Cafe, and The Grateful Deli

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


Since our last update on Nicky’s Thai Kitchen, one of the Northside’s most popular restaurants, its second location has opened in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The interior is decorated with artwork and statues from Thailand, an atmosphere manager Dave Brunner says is like a Thai art gallery.  The space, originally built for a bank, had most recently housed a pizza shop and art gallery.

Unlike the original Northside location, the downtown restaurant will not be BYOB.  But while the full-service bar is still under development patrons are welcome to bring their own alcohol without any corkage fee.

The new restaurant is open for dinner seven days a week, as well as lunch Monday through Saturday.  Reservations are available for Friday, Saturday and Sunday dinner service.  903 Penn Avenue.  412-471-THAI (8424).

Sinful Sweets Chocolate Company has also recently opened in the space adjacent to Nicky’s, at 901 Penn Avenue.  Owned by chocolatier Christopher George, the shop sells a variety of handmade, gourmet chocolates.  Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.  412-235-7865

- Rose Tea Café is opening a second location on Oakland’s Craig Street (414 S. Craig Street).  The original Squirrel Hill location (5874 Forbes Avenue) is well known for its Taiwanese cuisine, considered to be among the best in Pittsburgh.  The new location replaces a former mail store which closed last year.  412-421-2238.

- The Grateful Deli & Catering Company has opened at the intersection of Penn Avenue and Main Street, one block from the Children’s Hospital.  The deli offers hoagies, soup, salad, pizza, and more.  It replaces a portion of the former Sammy's Famous Corned Beef.  4065 Penn Avenue.  412-682-8000.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore

Bruno Works makes space in Downtown for tiny little startups

While new high-rises in Downtown Pittsburgh add more office space for bankers, lawyers, and CEO’s, other freelance professionals might still find it hard to acquire affordable desk space.  But Bruno Works, a new coworking space on Liberty Avenue, is hoping to change that.

Eve Picker has opened the new coworking space in her Bruno building at 945 Liberty Avenue, above the ToonSeum.  The facility consists of two floors of loft space, with desks, conference rooms, kitchen, private telephone rooms, and other amenities.

Picker says it’s an ideal space for “tiny little startups.”  There are currently 11 individuals in the shared office, with room for 40.

The reasons for joining a co-working space vary, but likely include the affordability of shared amenities.  And for folks who would otherwise work from home, it can offer a more normalized work routine.

Picker says some professionals are also looking for synergistic connections.  Those types of relationships are already being formed at Bruno Works, since an artist found work with a web designer just desks away.

And Bruno Works has its own synergy with another coworking space, East Liberty’s The Beauty Shoppe. They’re offering a shared flex-pass where one can have access to both facilities.

Other amenities at Bruno Works include a make station, mail boxes, high speed internet, as well as printing, faxing, copying and shredding.  Membership costs range from $300 for a dedicated desk, to just $50 for access to conference rooms.  And for $150 members will have an unassigned desk and 24/7 access to the building.

In addition to office space, Picker is launching the Community Creative School, a social programming series that’s focused on bringing Pittsburgh's design and creative community together.  The events will be free, and hosted at Bruno Works.

Although there are other facilities for startups in Pittsburgh, and coworking spaces like Beauty Shoppe, and Garfield’s Catapult, Bruno Works is the first of its kind in Downtown.


 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Eve Picker
Image Credit:  Bruno Works

How would you light The Point? Riverlights at Three Rivers Arts Festival

When the fountain at Point State Park reopens this summer it will have been four years since it was last open to the public.  And to mark the occasion on Friday, June 7th, Riverlife has asked local artists to design a lighting installation that will celebrate the park’s complete renovation.

The event, titled Riverlights at The Point, will coincide with the opening night of the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, and will feature live music. 

A Request for Proposals for the lighting installation is available at Riverlife’s website.  Proposals should be submitted to the e-mail address provided on the RFP.  Proposals are due February, 15th, 2013.

Stephan Bontrager, of Riverlife, says that while his organization doesn’t want to box in creativity, the project does have a few specific goals.  In addition to emphasizing the fountain, the installation should “achieve a magical effect throughout the park,” creating spectacular displays for viewers from Mount Washington to the North Shore.

“And of course, if you’re in Point State Park that night you’ll be surrounded by light and water,” he says.

Additionally, Bontrager says proposals should balance elements of art and technology, representing Pittsburgh’s evolving identity.

 “When you take all of these different elements together, like an emphasis on technology, and outdoor recreation, and the artistic elements throughout the Three River Arts Festival,” Bontrager says, “all of those facets really represent the new Pittsburgh.”

The Riverlights event is sponsored by the Colcom Foundation, and is a partnership between the Three River Arts Festival, Riverlife, and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

And although June 7th will be the official opening of the renovated fountain, Bontrager notes that Point State Park’s other sections, such as riverfront promenades, lawns, and woodland areas have already opened to the public.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Stephan Bontrager

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

Love Your Block looks to fund next round of $1,000 neighborhood improvement projects

Last fall’s Love Your Block (LYB) program impacted 49 blocks, collected 6,676 pounds of litter, created 99 green spaces, and leveraged over $14,000 in donations.  And the program, a project of Mayor Ravenstahl, is ready to offer 30 more $1,000 grants to city neighborhoods.

Mayoral spokesperson Joanna Doven says the program aims not only to beautify neighborhoods, but to help build connections between community members.

"It's part of re-instilling community pride in our neighborhoods," she says. "It's another tool for our residents to be a part of Pittsburgh's third renaissance."

Awardees will have access to City services such as trash collection and graffiti removal during project implementation.  Applicants must be a qualified nonprofit organization or have the support of a nonprofit fiscal agent.

In the previous round of grants, the Community Alliance of Spring Garden-East Deutschtown won the “best block revitalization project” and will receive an additional $2,000 Home Depot gift card for future block enhancements.  The group revitalized vacant lots and buildings along Spring Garden Avenue and leveraged over $4,750 in donations for their project. 

More than 700 volunteers participated in LYB projects in 2012.  The program is supported in part by Corporation for National Community Service and AmeriCorps VISTA program.

In this round of grants, special consideration is given to projects that engage local veterans and veterans’ organizations.

LYB is supported by the Home Depot Foundation, with projects receiving one $1,000 gift card.  The award amount has doubled since LYB first appeared in 2011.

Applications are due by Thursday, February 14th.  Project implementation will take place from April 27 to June 30, 2013. LYB is one of eight service initiatives in the mayor’s servePGH initiative.
 
 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Joanna Doven

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

Almono site hopes to benefit from TIF for 178-acre brownfield redevelopment

The URA has unanimously approved a preliminary tax increment financing plan for the Almono project, a redevelopment of the former LTV steel mill site in Hazelwood.  If a deal is reached, it would give up to $90 million in funding for roads, parks, utilities, and other public improvements for the development—the largest of its kind in city history.

According to the URA’s Paul Svoboda, a TIF would direct future tax revenue—to be paid in full by the developer—to pay for specific public infrastructure improvements at the site.

“But for the TIF, these kinds of public infrastructure investments couldn’t happen,” he says.  It allows for these expensive improvements to be made ahead of new construction and without obligating the city.  Svoboda says all debt would be taken on by the developer.

The 178-acre site—which calls for a mix of office, research and residential uses—is owned by a partnership that includes the Heinz Endowments and the Benedum Foundation.  RIDC is currently managing the site.

Svoboda says the plan would extend improvements into the existing Hazelwood community, a neighborhood long deserving in investment, and would not be limited to the brownfield site.

Across the Monongahela River is the South Side Works, also a former steel mill site.  Svoboda says because of tax increment financing there that project has benefitted from extensive public investments, including a riverfront park.

Although the Almono site is the largest development site to date in Pittsburgh, with a massive amount of work ahead, Svoboda hopes for a similar success in Hazelwood.

The TIF still needs approval from the City of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Public Schools, and Allegheny County.

Last summer, a new segment of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail was extended into the Almono site, connecting Hazelwood to Oakland and Downtown Pittsburgh. 
                                                              
 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Paul Svoboda

The Brix at 26 luxury apartments now leasing on South Side

A steel mill’s former company store has a new life as luxury apartments on the South Side.  The Brix at 26, a renovation of the former Goodwill building, will welcome its first residents on February 1st.

Located at the corner of East Carson and 26th Streets, near the South Side Works, the project brings 87  1-and 2-bedroom apartments to the 110-year-old building.  A project of Burns & Scalo, the seven-story historic structure is a certified Class-G renovation, a sustainability and energy-efficiency rating created by developer Jim Scalo in 2009.

The building features numerous lounge and entertainment spaces, including a garden patio and fireplace, a fifth-floor roof-top terrace, on-site storage and a catering kitchen.

One-bedroom apartments range from 601 to 1316 square feet, with monthly rents of $1450 to $2100; two-bedrooms from 850 to 1316 square feet, with rents from $1736 to $2200. 

Serena Kumar, of Amore Management Company, notes that due to top-rate location, amenities and views, the developers aren’t shy about asking for top-dollar rents. “It’s going to be one of the most dynamic places to live,” she says.

There are 45 different floor plans in the building, including two-level lofts. Ceiling heights range from 9 to 16 feet and a 24-hour emergency maintenance service will also be offered.  There are currently 20 leases signed.

Renovation work on the building began in January 2012.  A newly constructed on-site garage is available to tenants, behind and below the apartment building.  An additional surface lot is located across Sarah Street.

Built in the early 1900’s as the Pittsburgh Mercantile Company, the building was once the Jones & Laughlin company store.  The J&L steel mill was formerly located at the site of the present South Side Works. 

Brix at 26 is adjacent to the new ALDI grocery store, and is one block from LA Fitness.

A retail space is included in the building’s Carson Street storefront, though the developers are still seeking a tenant.  Kumar says her company is seeking input from future renters to secure a business that will be seen as an amenity to residents.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Serena Kumar 

Eat + Drink: River City Java in Uptown, Acacia craft cocktails, Ramen Bar, Crux, and more

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

- Squirrel Hill’s Ramen Bar celebrated a grand opening on January 2nd.  The restaurant is dedicated to the Japanese noodle dish that is its namesake, a concept popular throughout Asia and elsewhere.  5860 Forbes Avenue.   Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m; Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m.  412-521-5138.

Also in Squirrel Hill, Tan Lac Vien, a Vietnamese bistro, opened recently at 2114 Murray Avenue.  412-521-8888.
 
- Uptown has a coffee shop once again.  River City Java held a soft opening recently in the space once occupied by Asylum Coffee Bar, which closed in 2010. 

For the past two years, owner Kelly Russell has worked with the nonprofit StartUptown to bring other businesses to the neighborhood.  Now, she hopes her coffee shop can provide a community gathering place for those new arrivals and longtime denizens, and will further rebuilding efforts in Uptown.  1919 Forbes Avenue.

- Acacia is one of East Carson Street's newest drinking establishments, but you'll have to look a little harder than normal to find it.  The bourbon and whiskey bar is marked only by the Masonic Acacia logo, and has no windows or other adornment.

The candle-lit “conversation bar” features 116 types of bourbon, whiskey, and scotch, draft beer, and craft cocktails.  And despite its clandestine appearance, membership is not required.  A small-plate menu is under development.

Co-owner Lynn Falk was manager at the Strip District’s former Embury and Firehouse Lounge.  Falk and Spencer Warner will soon be re-opening Embury in the second-floor space above Acacia, in the former Z-Lounge building.  2108 E Carson Street.  412-488-1800.

- In Mount Washington, The Micro Diner is now serving classic breakfast fare and lunch seven days a week, and is even open late on Friday and Saturday nights.  221 Shiloh Street.  412-381-1391.

- The next Crux dinner—a nomadic, pop-up project of Chef Brandon Baltzley—will take place at the South Side’s Stagioni.  The meal, a collaboration with Chef Stephen Felder, will feature a 7-course modern Italian menu.

Baltzley’s collaborative kitchen series has traveled through Boston, Chicago and New York, and since last October he has hosted occasional dinners in Pittsburgh.  The event at Stagioni will be held on Monday, January 14th, at 7 p.m.  For reservations and more information, call 412-586-4738.

 
 Writer:  Andrew Moore

Braddock Community Cafe offers locally-grown produce, design by city's youth

The recently opened Braddock Community Café and Coffee Shop is the only place in town to buy coffee and meals with Braddock-grown produce.  It’s also an idea and space completely designed by the city’s youth, the first of its kind in the Mon Valley.

The café is a project of the Braddock Youth Project (BYP), a youth work skills training program that develops projects based on community needs. 

For the past six years, BYP has maintained thee community gardens.  Café manager Sabrina Hykes says the café was the logical next step.

The café will offer healthy meals and cooking demonstrations so that youth and other residents can learn how to cook the produce grown in Braddock community gardens, Hykes says.

BYP youth surveyed the community for the types of food they’d like to see on the café’s menu.  These old favorites are then made in a healthier fashion.  The café’s mac n cheese, for example, includes veggies and yogurt, and significantly less fat.

The café, which celebrated a grand opening on Saturday, is BYP’s second entrepreneurial venture.  Menu items, which will change frequently, include wraps, salads, breakfast sandwiches, and a range of coffee and espresso drinks.

With an operating grant from The Buhl Foundation, four Braddock youth—Cheyanne Neal, Tiara Robinson, Elon Ford, Omar Hawkins—were employed last summer to design and begin construction of the café. 

The café is also supported by Braddock Redux, Mayor John Fetterman’s not-for-profit organization, and is located within the Nyia Page Community Center.

The Braddock Community Café is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The café offers dine-in, take-out, and catering.  416 Library Street, Braddock, 15104.  412-727-6846.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Sabrina Hykes                             

$350,000 Colcom Grant to fund PDP's Paris to Pittsburgh Facade Grant Program

Efforts to enliven Downtown Pittsburgh with Parisian-esque streetscapes have been renewed thanks to a recent grant from the Colcom Foundation.  The $350,000 award will further the Paris to Pittsburgh Façade Grant Program, a project of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP).

Launched in early 2008, the program provides a 50 percent matching grant of up to $30,000 to building and business owners for exterior façade renovations in the Golden Triangle. 

The original goal of the program was to evoke a “Parisian atmosphere” by activating outdoor and sidewalk dining at local restaurants.  In 2010, the program was expanded and now includes full building façade renovations. 

The PDP’s Geof Comings says the grant program has allowed owners to invest in their businesses in ways that for many would not be possible without the assistance.

“The program has allowed them to make significant improvements that benefit not just their business, but improve the quality of Downtown architecture for all to enjoy,” he says.

According to Comings, many buildings in the program are beautiful old structures that in past decades had suffered from poorly conceived façade alterations.  And while Paris to Pittsburgh is not a historic renovation program, in many cases the restorations do bring a building’s first floor back to an earlier aesthetic period.  

Comings says that until recently downtown was still an uncertain place to invest. 

"But now that things are just looking so good in downtown, and everyone is heading in this positive direction, people are putting more money into their buildings, and it shows," he says.

In the past five years more than 50 projects have been approved and 43 have been completed.  The total investment in completed projects totals $2,057,580,of which $749,852 is grant funded.  Remaining costs were funded through private investment.

Three projects expected to be completed in the coming year include Café Milano on Sixth Street, 901 Penn Avenue–home of the new Nicky’s Thai Kitchen and the soon-to-open Sinful Sweets chocolate shop, and a storefront at 604 Liberty Avenue.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Geof Comings

New grocery stores opening in Pittsburgh; a plan to bring Sheraden’s first

The West End’s Sheraden neighborhood may be the next Pittsburgh community to have a grocery store headed its way.  The URA has voted to issue an RFP for the development of a grocery store at 2928 Sheraden Boulevard.

While there are food stores in the West End’s other neighborhoods, there is currently no full-service grocery store in Sheraden, which is the largest community in the city’s western region.  There are also no seasonal Citiparks farmers markets in the West End.

Last December, using Community Development Block Grants and funds provided by Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, the URA bought the property and a nearby parking lot for $425,000.

Previous efforts by Mayor Ravenstahl and the URA have led to the successful development of an IGA grocery store in Beechview, which opened last year, as well as the Hill District’s planned Shop ‘n Save.

Councilwoman Kail-Smith says the RFP’s issuance demonstrates the City’s commitment to investing in neighborhoods.

“For the residents who have dedicated time and personal investment in Sheraden, this is the pivotal moment they have been waiting for and their faith in a revitalized Sheraden is about to become reality,” she said in a statement.

According to the URA’s Robert Rubinstein, the site is strategically located across from the K-8 Langley School and a short walk from the busway.

Proposals will be accepted by a grocer looking to acquire the property, renovate it and open a neighborhood-based store; a grocer to which the URA can lease the property to open a store; or a developer that would bring a grocer as its primary tenant.  The RFP will be issued within the next several weeks.

There has been a flurry of other grocery store openings throughout the region in recent months, including an Aldi in the South Side, numerous Bottom Dollar Food stores, and a Good Cents Grocery store in Ross Township.  And another Aldi store, a planned reuse of the former Day Baum Boulevard car dealership, is back on track in Friendship.

Last month, developer Cipriani & Werner PC announced that a Whole Foods Market is planned for the site of a former Consol office building in the South Hills.  According to Justin Cipriani, it will be a mixed-use development with residential, retail, and restaurant components.  The site is located at the northeast corner of Washington Road and Fort Couch Road in Upper St. Clair.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source: Justin Cipriani; Gigi Saladna

Eat + Drink: Inca Peruvian downtown; D.J’s Butcher Block; La Palapa Mexican Cuisine; and more

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


•  AJ's Inca Peruvian Restaurant opened this week in Downtown Pittsburgh at 500 Liberty Avenue.  Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken is the star here, along with a variety of other Peruvian dishes.  The restaurant is located in the former Cuzamil space, just outside Market Square.  Open Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday, noon to 8 p.m.  412-642-6606.

•  In North Oakland, Legume has re-launched its adjoining bar space under the name Butterjoint.  The word refers to a type of brickwork masonry known for its simplicity and elegance.  Chef Trevett Hooper says it’s a metaphor for how food is prepared at Legume, and now at Butterjoint.

Hooper says the redesigned bar menu—with fare such as pierogies and burgers— now offers substantial meals at a lower price than in the restaurant.  He hopes it will allow Legume’s loyal customers to visit more frequently.  It’s the same quality meat and produce, he says, just with a more straightforward preparation.

The space itself has been reconfigured to provide a more comfortable dining experience.  A weekly variety show, featuring music, comedy, spoken word and magicians, is held on Tuesdays.  And bar manager Will Groves was brought on to revamp the beer and cocktail menu.  214 North Craig Street.  412.621.2700.

•  D.J.’s Butcher Block Specialty Sausage and Meats opened recently in Bloomfield, a small storefront shop offering fresh, cured, and smoked sausage, grass-fed beef, as well as local chicken and turkey.

For the past three years, owner/butcher D.J. Smulick, a former chef at Café Sam, has offered products at various farmers markets.  Smulick sources a majority of meats from local vendors, and seeks to offer high quality products that remain affordable. 

D.J’s also stocks a small selection of local cheese, eggs, pickles, mustards and jellies.  Smulick doesn’t want to become a grocery store, he says, rather he’s just offering a few products that complement the meats.  4623 Liberty Avenue.  412-621-3100.

Also in Bloomfield, multiple sushi restaurants have opened, including Ginza (412-688-7272), at 4734 Liberty Avenue.  And more recently, Fukuda Sushi, which is BYOB, opened in the former Stagioni storefront, at 4770 Liberty Avenue.  And on Sundays, Chef Matt Kemp offers an evening menu at East Liberty’s AVA Lounge.  412-377-0916.

•  La Palapa Mexican Cuisine is the latest food purveyor to join the growing list of vendors at the Strip District’s Pittsburgh Public Market.  Friday through Sunday La Palapa will offer a variety of tamales, quesadillas chilangas, chiles rellenos, frijoles charros, enchiladas, and desserts including flan.    412-992-7206.

Also in the Strip, the Thin Man Sandwich Shop is opening soon at 50 21st Street, in the former 21st Street Coffee and Tea location.  Owners and chefs Dan and Sherri Leiphart have previously worked at Isabela on Grandview, the former Le Pommier, and Lidia's Pittsburgh.  The Leipharts are aiming to bring their classically trained experience to a more relaxed and casual atmosphere. 

•  Wilkinsburg has been a dry borough for the past 80 years.  But now, the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) is pushing for a ballot referendum to allow liquor licenses in the community.  It’s cited as a tool for economic development, as alcohol sales could help draw hotels, fine dining, and other entertainment options to the borough.  Visit WCDC’s website to learn more.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore     

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

Transit-oriented development breaks ground in Homewood, part of Bridging the Busway plan

Construction has begun on a transit-oriented development (TOD) in Homewood that kicks-off implementation of Bridging the Busway, a community-driven plan aimed at revitalizing the neighborhood.  Homewood Station Senior Apartments will be 41-units of independent senior apartments, and is just the first project in a multi-phased redevelopment plan.

The current $10 11.5 million, four-story development is adjacent to the East Busway’s Homewood Station, is developed by Oxford Development and S&A Homes, and designed by Rothschild Doyno Collaborative.  With an anticipated completion date of December 2013, it will include ground floor commercial space for neighborhood businesses, as well as a café.
 
Bridging the Busway Plan

Completed last April, Bridging the Busway has set out four main goals: to celebrate the East Busway and TOD as neighborhood strengths; build on existing assets; ensure investments enhance the lives of residents and business owners; and to leverage the relative health of Point Breeze North to help stabilize Homewood.

The result was to think of Homewood Avenue more holistically, says Christine Brill, of Studio for Spatial Practice (SSP).  Brill co-managed the Bridging the Busway planning process, and consultant team.  

“Homewood was kind of the core focus of the project, but everybody recognized that we needed to work with the surrounding communities,” Brill says.  “That busway stop is the hub and the catalytic point between Homewood and Point Breeze North.”

Homewood’s assets—including the Afro-American Music Institute and historic Carnegie Library—don’t stop at the busway, and can have a regional draw, Brill says.  The East End Food Co-Op and Westinghouse Park, for example, are assets that span neighborhoods, and include Homewood.

And while cities throughout the country are working to increase development around light-rail and bus rapid transit, Brill says, “we already have it, but we have vacant land all around it.  So what can we do to harness the potential of what’s around there, and do something that really helps people who live there?”

Source: Christine Brill, Studio for Spatial Practice
Writer: Andrew Moore

What can Apple teach architects? Cipriani Studios has an answer

Justin Cipriani wants to bring the Apple approach to architecture.  And at Bailey Park, a 15-home development planned for Mount Washington, he’ll have an opportunity to demonstrate exactly how this vertical integration approach will work.

A South Hills-native, Cipriani spent much of the last decade working in the design field in California.  Through this experience, he came to believe that in order to make truly great modern homes one had to adopt the Apple approach—become an integrated developer/architect/construction company.

“The nature of being an architect is that you make these things and then give it away,” Cipriani says.  “So much product development and coordination happens that the whole process, from entitlement to design to execution, needs to be controlled by a consistent team.”

Cipriani came home to Pittsburgh, he says, because of the city’s healthy market conditions, and for family.  Three years ago he founded Cipriani Studios.

 “We’re cradle to grave,” Cipriani says.  “It allows us to be more of like a design house.  We draw something, go engineer it, build it."

At Bailey Park—which will be adjacent to Emerald View Park—Cipriani Studios is the developer, architect, and will do engineering and other work in-house.  And the project’s construction team, Deklewa, works from a shared office space.

In July Cipriani completed work on the three-unit Neff condo building, perched on the edge of Mount Washington and offering iconic views of Pittsburgh.  Also near Emerald View Park, the four and three-bedroom units are listed from $750,000 to $850,000. 

Again borrowing from Apple, Cipriani says he intends the single-family homes of Bailey Park to be an “iPad mini” to the Neff condos.  While they’ll be half the price and size (at 1,500 square feet), they’ll have the same earthy, modern feel, he says, with natural materials, open living areas and large windows.

Cipriani expects to begin construction of Bailey Park in the spring of next year.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Justin Cipriani

With coffee and beer under one roof, East End and Commonplace to offer Coffee Porter year-round

What’s better than coffee and beer?  Having it all under one roof.  Wholesale roasters Commonplace Coffee recently joined East End Brewing Company at its warehouse space in Larimer, with the latter planning to offer its collaboration Coffee Porter year-round.

Commonplace co-owner TJ Fairchild says the match-up is a good fit, as both companies share a craft approach to their products.  And through their collaborations, he says they came to realize that not only do they share a similar skillset, but a similar market.

“We started to notice that a lot of our customers were the same,” Fairchild says.  “The same people that were seeking out really good beer were the same people that were seeking out really good coffee.”

During the brewery’s popular Growler Hours customers can now purchase pounds of direct-sourced beans and sample select brews from the roastery.

Commonplace opened its original coffeehouse and roastery in Indiana, PA in 2003.  Since then, it has opened two shops in Pittsburgh, and delivers the majority of its beans to the city. 

While the original location will remain open in Indiana, the new facility, at 6580 Frankstown Avenue, will bring the company closer to its customer base, and will be its main roastery producing approximately 600 kilos of beans a week.

According to Fairchild, Commonplace purchases many of its beans directly from farmers, in addition to the fair-trade system.  He says they are also now roasting beans with a lighter profile to highlight each single-origin coffee’s subtleties and nuances.

Last December, East End introduced its Coffee Porter, brewed with Commonplace’s Sumatra Coffee.  While it had been offered seasonally, Fairchild says it will soon be on solid rotation at the brewery.

East End officially relocated from Homewood to its new Frankstown Avenue location last month, with expanded Growler Hours from Tuesday to Sunday, where customers can fill half-gallon glass jugs straight from the brewery's taps.

And even though the brewery is not open for growler hours on Monday, Fairchild says folks are still free to visit Commonplace and peer over the roaster’s shoulder to observe their process.

“Pretty much every day of the week we’re open for a visit if people want to see what we’re doing,” he says.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  TJ Fairchild
 

Correction:  In last week’s Eat + Drink column, we incorrectly reported the operating hours of BZ’s Bar and Grill.  The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week.  140 Federal Street.  412-323-BZBG.

Smart Growth Conference to focus on transportation, green infrastructure, redevelopment financing

One of the Pittsburgh region’s greatest challenges is a long-term solution to transportation funding.  And it’s one of three major topics to be addressed at tomorrow’s 12th annual Southwestern Pennsylvania Smart Growth Conference.

The conference is a gathering of business leaders, local government, and other professionals and non-profit groups.  According to Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Court Gould, the region’s challenges—including transit—are issues that can only be solved by cross-sector coordination.

“The solution for public transportation funding won’t just be found in Harrisburg,” Gould says.  “Rather, it has to be shouldered by our region.”

At the conference, Barry Schoch, PennDOT’s Secretary of Transportation, will give a talk titled Beyond quick fixes.  According to Schoch, transportation funding has historically involved short-term infusions but not long-term solutions. 

“As we look at this to the future, for all modes, we’re looking at solutions that we believe will grow in time, that will be fair and user-fee based,” Schoch says. 

Specifics of the plan will be announced early next year.

This transit conversation comes just days after Governor Corbett’s recent pronouncements that his administration is committed to finding a plan for funding transportation in Pennsylvania.

Although Secretary Schoch won’t be providing specifics on the plans being developed by his department and the governor, he intends to use the conference as an opportunity to hear from the audience about local transportation priorities.  He says this information will help shape those future plans.

The Smart Growth Conference, created by Sustainable Pittsburgh, is co-presented this year by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and Local Government Academy.  Other conference topics include green infrastructure and urban redevelopment financing. 

The Smart Growth Conference will be held tomorrow, Thursday, December 13th, from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Downtown Pittsburgh.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Court Gould, Sustainable Pittsburgh; Barry Schoch, PennDOT

Pittsburgh Glass Center buys a building to house visiting students and artists

Master artists and students travel to the Pittsburgh Glass Center (PGC) from throughout the country and all over the world, and now they’ll have a place to stay.  PGC has purchased a vacant building in Garfield to be used as artist and student housing.

In addition to being a convenience for artists, PGC Executive Director Heather McElwee says the added space will likely expand interest in week-long classes and workshops.

“Not only will the house help to generate some earned income from the Glass Center,” McElwee says, “but we actually think it will increase the number of people participating in our Summer-Intensive program.  I think there are a handful of people who don’t even consider our program because there isn’t a housing option right now.”  

PGC was founded in 2001 by Kathleen Mulcahy & Ron Desmett as a public access school, gallery and art glass studio dedicated to teaching, creating and promoting glass art.

Located at 5447 Penn Avenue, the three-story building is in the middle of Bride Row, named for the “Bride on Penn Avenue” mural created by artist Judy Penzer, in collaboration with Jill Watson, Corolla Zap, and Dan Anthoniesen, in 1995.  The homes are unique on the avenue as they are set back and atop a small hill.

The building, just one block from the Glass Center, was most recently home to the former Kim’s Coffee Shop, a Vietnamese restaurant.  The sale of the building was faciltated through the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation.

Although renovations are needed, McElwee says the Glass Center plans to keep with the architectural tradition of the home and the row.

McElwee expects the first-floor former restaurant space to be repurposed as a community space, available to visiting artists.  The upper floors would be developed as private and semi-shared housing space.

Ben Imhoff and Anne Chen, of EDGE studio, are working with the Glass Center on the building’s renovations.  McElwee anticipates the housing to be open by summer of 2014.

There are eight other Victorians along Bride Row, with at least one that is owner occupied.  The others are owned by Friendship Development Associates, who are working to find redevelopment plans for the remaining homes.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Heather McElwee

Mansions on Fifth celebrates grand opening as 22-room boutique hotel

The Mansions on Fifth, a 22-room boutique hotel, celebrated a grand opening yesterday along with the complete restoration of the McCook Reed House. It’s the culmination of a seven year historic restoration process that has given new life to a pair of unique Pittsburgh homes.

Mary Del Brady, who owns the Mansions with husband Richard Pearson, says they are eager to share these historic spaces with the community.

“We feel more like stewards than owners,” Brady says.

The homes, which are Elizabethan Revivalist and Tudor styles, were built between 1900 and 1906 by industrialist and lawyer Willis F. McCook on what was then Millionaires Row.  According to Brady, McCook also helped build the nearby St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The buildings’ most recent owners vowed to only sell to someone who would restore them.  Pearson, a developer and preservationist, had long admired the mansions. When they went up for sale, he and Brady jumped at the opportunity.

“You can’t ever rebuild a building like this again, and that’s the magic of it,” Brady says.

The hotel was restored consistent with Secretary of Interior standards.

The main McCook House, a 30,000-square-foot, solid granite structure, was opened to guests last year.  In addition to 13 guest rooms, this building contains most of the Mansions’ public rooms, including the grand hall and staircase, the Oak Room, library, as well as a wine cellar and fitness room. 

The Mansions feature a gallery specializing in 18th and 19th century European art (Gallery Werner), and has begun to host live music.  The hotel is also available for weddings and other special events.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Mary Del Brady

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

Phipps wins International Green Award, one of the world’s most Sustainable NGOs

A Pittsburgh institution has again been lauded for its leadership in green design and sustainability.  Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens was recently recognized at the International Green Awards in London.

The conservatory was awarded the bronze level of honor in the Most Sustainable NGO category.  Organizations were judged in eight key performance areas, including energy, water, waste, resources, carbon, supply chain, transport and social.  Phipps was one of five finalists selected to demonstrate the globe’s most innovative approaches to sustainable leadership.

“It adds further validation of all the work that we’re doing at Phipps to make our organization be as green as possible,” says Richard Piacentini, Phipps executive director.  “We also think it’s great for our city.  It’s another feather in the cap for Pittsburgh and all the great things that are going on related to green buildings and operations."

The new Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL), which was unveiled to the public earlier this year, certainly drew attention from the green community.  It is billed as one of the greenest buildings in the world.

The CSL complex was built to meet the three highest green building standards: The Living Building Challenge; LEED Platinum; and the SITES landscape rating system.  It is expected to be the first building in the world to achieve all three ratings.

Other noted achievements include a green campus expansion effort that has resulted in the first LEED visitor center in a public garden; a tropical forest conservatory that is the most energy-efficient structure of its kind; and the first-ever LEED Platinum greenhouses.

The International Green Awards were established in 2006, and are judged by eco game-changers from various public sectors.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Richard Piacentini

ReDesigNation home design and furniture shop reopens in Wilkinsburg

ReDesigNation, a new and used consignment furniture and home design store, has relocated to Wilkinsburg.  In the spirit of the business—to remake old things—owner Jordan Deane has retrofitted a former church and cathedral space to showcase her work.

And while the space is an interesting way to showcase furniture that Deane has refurbished, and in some cases completely reimagined, she wants to make sure the building plays a greater role in the community.

“We don’t just want it to be about my furniture store and business,” Deane says.  She and her husband are considering ideas such as a community garden, or a community kitchen, to be hosted here. 

“We already know that it’s great for events,” Deane says, as the cathedral was recently used for a community member’s baby shower.  And because the furniture is already used, it can be part of an event, and remain listed for sale as well, she says.

According to Deane, midcentury modern is currently very popular in home decor and furniture, which suits her own tastes.

“It’s actually my favorite era to go for,” Deane says.  “I take a lot of midcentury modern pieces and I’ll either restore it back to its original grandeur, or I'll paint it funky colors, because it just kind of lends itself to being a funky piece.”

There are numerous empty storefronts in this part of Wilkinsburg.  But Deane hopes her revival of the former church, which was a foreclosure and had fallen into disrepair, can encourage more businesses to relocate to this part of the city. 

ReDesigNation was previously located in Squirrel Hill.  The shop is currently open by appointment.  For more information, visit Deane’s blog.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Jordan Deane

$300,000 grant to fund Sports and Athletics Complex at Montour Junction

Sports and recreation have been given a boost in Allegheny County, as County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced yesterday a $300,000 grant from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program (C2P2) for the Sports and Athletics Complex at Montour Junction.

The Sports and Athletics Complex at Montour Junction is a 78-acre parcel of land shared by three communities: the Borough of Coraopolis, Moon Township and Robinson Township.  A former brownfield site, the $15 million development will include 15 to 18 grass and synthetic turf fields for non-traditional sporting uses such as soccer, rugby and lacrosse for school-aged children. 

 “The grant is one of the larger amounts awarded, and we are proud that such a significant investment is going to be made in the county,” Fitzgerald said in a statement.

Fitzgerald called this a tremendous opportunity to increase recreational opportunities in the county.  He cited the complex’s proximity to the Montour Trail, a pedestrian and bicycle path now totaling over 40 miles, as well as Montour Run, a stocked trout stream which bisects the property.

Funds will also be used to for a half-mile extension of the Montour Trail and various landscaping at the site, and the complex will eventually act as a new trailhead.

The Sports Legacy Foundation donated the land in 2008 with the clause that it would be used for non-traditional sports.  The Redevelopment Authority has been working with its consultants on the development of the facility.

Construction on the complex is expected begin in the first or second quarter of 2013.

C2P2 is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and provides funding to provide quality park, recreation and conservation opportunities.
 
Also happening in the area, Celebrate Coraopolis 2012 will take place this Saturday, December 1st.  The day-long event will feature food, music, and family activities, including sleigh rides and pictures with Santa. 

The Coraopolis Community Development Foundation (CCDF) is leading the event, which will showcase local businesses and restaurants.  Proceeds from this event will benefit the programs of the CCDF, which this year has given over $12,000 in direct assistance and provided 14,000 pounds of food assistance to over 300 families.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Dennis M. Davin, Allegheny County Economic Development

Building Healthy Communities to be focus of upcoming Commonwealth Awards

At this year’s Commonwealth Awards, the 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania’s signature event, the theme of “Building Healthy Communities” will be emphasized in honor of the late Mark Schneider. 

A former Chairman of 10,000 Friends, Schneider was a leader in smart growth and sustainable development in the region.  In recognition of his impact, the organization’s highest individual award, the “Friend of Pennsylvania” Award, will be presented to Mark posthumously and will be renamed the “Mark C. Schneider Memorial Friend of Pennsylvania” Award.

And this year’s keynote speaker will be Dr. Richard J. Jackson, co-author of the book and host/narrator of the public television series, Designing Healthy Communities.  Dr. Jackson is a recipient of the 2012 Heinz Award for the Environment.

Regional Director Grant Ervin says Schneider’s numerous projects in Pittsburgh are great examples of Dr. Jackson’s message—that the built environment has a direct correlation on public and individual health.

“Projects like Summerset and Washington’s Landing have set the bar high and have provided recognition that people want these types of products,” Ervin says.  “They were trailblazers at the time.”

10,000 Friends will also honor several southwest Pennsylvania awardees from the first round of the Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative (PCTI) funding.  Schneider also helped develop the vision for PCTI and was one of its chief advocates.

Founded in 1998, 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania is a statewide advocate for smart growth.  It has operated a Pittsburgh office since 2004.

The 2012 Commonwealth Awards will be held at Point Park University, Lawrence Hall 201, Wood Street, Downtown Pittsburgh.  For more information, and to register, click here.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Grant Ervin

$2 million investment in dek hockey rinks by Highmark, Penguins Foundation and City

The first of four new dek hockey rinks coming to Pittsburgh is now open in Banksville, thanks to a partnership between The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, Highmark, and the City of Pittsburgh. 

Known as Project Power Play, the organizations are hoping the $2 million investment in new facilities will help build interest in the sport among young athletes.  Highmark is contributing $1.5 million to the initiative, and the Penguins Foundation $600,000.

“You don’t see this in many cities where you have a sports organization and a non-profit all pitching in,” says mayoral spokesperson Joanna Doven. 

According to Doven, the new parks are “literally free,” coming at no cost to taxpayers.  The City completed all in-house work, and Public Works crews did all of the manual construction.

Dek hockey, also known as street hockey, can be played wearing shoes or inline skates.  According to Doven, the surface of these new rinks is a high-quality, semi-permeable surface that prevents flooding and reduces slickness. 

As part of the initiative, a total of 12 dek hockey rinks are planned for the region, with eight more to be built throughout Allegheny County.

A second city rink will be built in Hazelwood, at the corner of Irvine and Berkwick streets in Lewis Park, and will be managed by the local YMCA.  A third rink is planned for Brookline, and a fourth for an as-yet undetermined location in the East End.

There is currently one other dek rink in Pittsburgh, at Marmaduke Park in Brighton Heights.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Joanna Doven

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre expansion underway, $10 million development

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) is in the midst of a $10 million expansion to double the size of the school, and a recent land purchase at 2930 Liberty Avenue brings their total footprint to over 60,000 square feet.

Executive Director Harris Ferris says the goal is to build a campus environment in the Strip District.  The new parcel, which is adjacent to the theatre, now provides ample land to build an annex building and three new studios, as well as increase parking capacity on the south side of Liberty Avenue.

The current expansion is the third phase of the School Expansion Plan.  PBT’s Board of Trustees approved the $850,000 purchase price at its July 10 meeting.

In 2010, PBT opened Byham House, a student residence, in the rectory of the former St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Lawrenceville.  And last year, the school expanded its PBT Studios reception area.

With the newly acquired space, PBT’s fourth phase of development includes the construction of a new, 16,000-square-foot building.  Although still in its design phase, the structure will be an annex of the current building, located to the rear of the campus.

Parking will eventually be shifted to the 2930 Liberty Avenue lot, where Ferris says the space will either be surface or multi-level parking, depending on funding.  Either way, he says it will be beautifully landscaped.

“The idea is to create a visual and dynamic presence on Liberty Avenue,” Ferris says.   He also hopes a campus environment that spans both sides of the avenue can help to mitigate traffic.

PBT’s school serves over 800 students of diverse ages, in addition to housing a professional company of 27 dancers.  Ferris hopes the expansion will also help to serve the growing interest in community-based programs.

““That’s kind of an eclectic campus,” Ferris says.  “But it’s unified around our image and our aspirations for the art form.”
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Harris Ferris

East End Book Exchange to open in Bloomfield on Friday

The East End Book Exchange has grown from a small stall in the Pittsburgh Public Market to a new storefront location in Bloomfield, and a grand-opening celebration will be held this Friday evening to mark the transition.

Owner Lesley Rains says the move from a smaller footprint to a brick-and-mortar shop had always been a long-term goal, but that demand and interest in the exchange moved her business quicker than expected into this new phase. 

Located at 4754 Liberty Avenue, the new shop joins The Big Idea Cooperative Bookstore and Café on the avenue, turning this stretch of Bloomfield into a budding literary destination.  Rains says that in this current bookseller climate— with heavy competition from Amazon and e-book sales—brick-and-mortar sellers have to work together.

“I think proximity can only help bookstores,” Rains says.  “I think we can hopefully over the long-term create a little book neighborhood."

According to Rains, the East End Book Exchange is a general interest used bookstore featuring genres such as fiction, poetry and history, as well as gardening and cook books.

“It’s just meant to be a place where whether you’re an avid reader or more of an occasional reader you can come here and find something,” she says. 

The exchange will also feature an extensive children’s books section, with bean bag chairs and activities for young readers.  And adults, meanwhile, will find lamp-lit nooks with couches and chairs, allowing guests to read and relax while they browse.  Rains hopes the shop will be a comfortable new space for neighbors to meet and gather.

And while the shop opens on Friday evening, it’s still a work in progress, as Rains grows her business from an 80-squarefoot booth to a 1,600-squarefoot storefront.

““We’re still growing,” she says.  “One of the things we like about this space is that there’s still a lot of space to add more bookshelves.” 

The grand-opening celebration will be held this Friday, November 16th, from 6 to 8 p.m. 

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Lesley Rains

Hill District grocery store moves forward, $16 million mixed-use development at New Granada Theater

Two important redevelopment efforts in the Hill District are poised to move forward, including a $16 million residential and retail development and the planned Shop 'n Save grocery store.

The residential and retail development, to be located in the historic New Granada Theatre Block in the Hill District, was recently approved by the URA.  What is currently vacant land will be transformed into 51 residential units, 7,200 square feet of retail space, approximately 25 on-site parking spaces and a courtyard.

Phase I of the development, called The Residences at New Granada Square, will be a mixed-income, mixed-use building between Wylie and Centre Avenues. 

Marimba Milliones, executive director of the Hill Community Development Corporation, says the residential component will be targeted to artists, entrepreneurs, and urban professionals, a demographic that she believes will function well with a redeveloped New Granada Theater cultural space.

"The Hill District is where culture and innovation merge," Milliones says.  "We're going to have an expeirence that is unlike any other in the region, and I think that the New Granada Square is going to be the heart of that experience."

A new, U-shaped building will include 16 two-bedroom apartments and 35 one-bedroom units, as well as approximately 7,200 square feet of street level retail space along Centre Avenue.  Of the 51 units, 42 will be affordable to households with incomes at or below 60 percent of area median income, with nine at market rate.

The Hill CDC and Ralph A. Falbo, Inc. have created a new entity, New Granada Square Housing, LP, which will be the project developer.

Also announced last week was the completion of the funding phase for the planned 30,000-square-foot Shop ‘n Save grocery store, to be located at the intersection of Centre Avenue and Heldman Street.  It was announced at a news conference held by the Hill House Economic Development Corp. and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

The Hill House Association was able to close a $3.86 million funding gap for the project, along with help from other partners.  The project was first announced in July 2010, and had been scheduled to open last fall.  Construction is now slated to begin at the end of this month.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Marimba Milliones

Pittsburgh Neighborhood Renaissance Fund first round of grants of $275,000 announced

The first round of grants of the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Renaissance Fund was announced yesterday by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Steve Glassman of the Design Center and others from the URA and City Council at a press conference at the Pittsburgh Musical Theater.  The awards, totaling $275,000 and including 12 neighborhoods, are designed to help communities create neighborhood development plans, and to better align investment opportunities.

The program is targeting neighborhoods that have received relatively little community planning in the past, says Chris Koch of the Design Center, who adds that these planning efforts are crucial to attracting the right kinds of investment and development.

“It’s important because neighborhoods really have to have a collective vision and a common language about how they’re going to be an inviting neighborhood and the kind of things they want to see happen there,” Koch says.

The program was created by Mayor Ravenstahl and the URA earlier this spring, and is a partnership between the mayor’s office, the Department of City Planning, the URA, and the Design Center of Pittsburgh.

The program will be administered through the Design Center’s current Design Fund initiative, which awards community organizations and provides technical assistance to work with architects, planners, and other design professionals toward neighborhood revitalization projects.

Awards include $25,000 to West End Alliance for an adaptive reuse study for a closed and vacant school; $15,000 to Pittsburgh Musical Theater for implementation of façade improvements and expansion at its West End location; and $15,000 to Central Northside Neighborhood Council for sign and gateway design for its Allegheny City Central branding plan, among others.

The fund was established in April with an initial start-up grant of $300,000 from the mayor and the URA.  The Design Center has raised matching funds through local foundations and other funding sources.

According to Koch, the fund will be useful in directing the investment and redevelopment efforts that she expects to continue to grow in Pittsburgh.

“It’s great that the mayor’s office has really understood that planning is a great way for us to understand how to take advantage of that, and for the communities to be able to have a voice in that happening,” she says.

At the end of the press conference, students from the Pittsburgh Musical Theater performed several numbers on stage in front of a group that included the Mayor, several members of City Council, and many of the grantees.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Chris Koch

Councilman Peduto pushes bold legislation to fight slumlords and blight

At a press conference yesterday morning, City Councilman Bill Peduto announced legislation that he hopes will be a new tool in the fight against slumlords and blighted properties.

The legislation, which will be up for a preliminary vote next Monday, allows the City to erect large signs in front of up to 10 properties—deemed the worst in the City—whose owners have received multiple BBI citations and Housing Court convictions but have not yet taken steps to remedy the problems.  The signs will show the property owner’s name, telephone number, and home address. 

Peduto says there are two main questions regarding problem properties: “Who owns that? And why won’t anybody do anything about it?  This will answer both of those,” he says. 

Once the problem is abated, the sign would be removed and a new property would be targeted.

A similar pilot program was conducted in Pittsburgh in 1998 under the nickname Operation Red, an allusion to the novel, The Scarlet Letter.  According to Peduto, all five properties targeted through that program came to a successful conclusion.

Peduto hopes this method of public shaming will prevent property owners from hiding behind a “veil of anonymity."

According to the councilman’s policy director, Matthew Barron, similar programs are currently in place in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, and Milwaukee, among other cities. 

Peduto says this new legislation is necessary because the current process isn’t working.

“One house can change the perception of a street, and once street can change the perception of a neighborhood,” he says.  “If we allow people who are breaking the law to continue to do so, it comes at a cost to an entire neighborhood.”

The legislation also provides an option for allowing neighbors to petition for add a problem property to that list. 
 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Bill Peduto

Crested Duck Charcuterie to expand, USDA certification in Beechview

Crested Duck Charcuterie, the Beechview-based meat market and deli, is expanding to become a USDA certified facility.  The planned upgrades will allow the French-inspired charcuterie to ship out of state, and supply large chains such as Giant Eagle.  And according to owner Kevin Costa, it will also be an opportunity for him to give back to the region’s small-scale farmers.

“The small farmers have made my business what it is,” Costa says.  “They have supported me and supplied me with a really good, quality product.  So if I can help them out I don’t know why I wouldn’t.”

According to Costa, there are just a few USDA certified processing facilities in the region.  He says they’re not always easy to work with, nor do they give farmers many options in terms of gourmet products.

Costa says farmers are losing customers because they can’t provide certain custom cuts and higher-end products, especially around the holidays.  He hopes that with the new certification, Crested Duck can help to meet that need.

The shop will offer farmers a full range of nitrate-free meats, including bacon, sausage made with farm-grown produce and many other specialty cuts and orders.  Although similar products are already offered through Crested Duck, the certification will expand the shop’s capacity and distribution means. 

In order to complete the necessary upgrades, Costa launched a Kickstarter campaign that was successfully funded last month.  In addition to USDA certification, the campaign will aid in expansion of its Beechview retail service, including a new Sunday brunch and occasional evening dinners.

Crested Duck also remains a mainstay at the Strip District’s Pittsburgh Public Market.  412-892-9983.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Kevin Costa

MOVEPGH transportation priorities released today; final public Green Boulevard meeting

After a year of compiling public input, the City of Pittsburgh is today releasing its priorities for MovePGH.  Once completed, it will be the City’s first ever 25-year transportation plan.

A list of transportation and mobility priorities will be announced during a series of Prioritization Workshops throughout the city beginning today at 1 p.m.  Mayoral spokesperson Joanna Doven says the meetings will be used to educate the public on the ranking process.

“We’ll also explain what can be gained by investing in bicycle-pedestrian transit infrastructure improvements,” Doven says.  She adds that earlier models which enable faster, more efficient movement of automobiles often do so at the expense of other modes of transportation.  

City Planning and a team of consultants compiled a list of projects suggested by the public, as well as projects proposed by other regional partners and stakeholders.  Those projects were then evaluated for various levels of effectiveness, and ran through the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission’s Regional Travel Demand model.

Now that the projects have been ranked, funding will emerge as a key issue.  But Doven says the City’s future blueprint—PLANPGH, Pittsburgh’s first ever comprehensive plan—will help attract key partnerships and funding sources.

“Your ability to get outside dollars greatly improves when you show you have a vision and a plan,” she says.  “And we’ll have that.”

Also in planning news, next Thursday, November 15th, the URA will host its final public meeting regarding the Allegheny Riverfront Green Boulevard.  The planned corridor is exploring connecting Highland Park to downtown via a bike-pedestrian path, and a potential commuter rail serving the greater Allegheny Valley.

Also part of the Green Boulevard plan is a new riverfront development in Lawrenceville, between 43rd and 48th Streets, which would include a mix of townhomes and multi-unit buidlings.

The final Green Boulevard meeting will e held at the Teamster Temple, 4701 Butler Street, from 6 to 8 p.m.

MovePGH Prioritization Workshops will begin today at 1 p.m. , at the Kaufmann Center on 1825 Centre Avenue, and 6 p.m. at the Carnegie Library, East Liberty Branch, 130 S. Whitfield Street.  For more information, and for tomorrow’s meeting locations, click here.



Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Joanna Doven

5th Annual Arbor Aid celebrates the life and death of trees, at The Wheel Mill

Throughout the year, Tree Pittsburgh advocates for healthy trees in the city, and physically tends to the vast urban forest.  But at Saturday’s 5th Annual Arbor Aid, the focus is on trees that are no longer living.

The event, to be held November 10th at The Wheel Mill in Homewood, will feature the woodwork of more than 40 artists, and over 60 pieces of artwork and furniture, much of which is made of reclaimed wood harvested from the Pittsburgh region.  It is the non-profit's largest fundraiser.  

Pieces range from large dining room tables to chairs and sculptures, as well as smaller items such as cutting boards, candle holders, and pictures frames.  One artist, a painter, has even incorporated a salvaged stainless steel panel from the former Civic Arena into her work.

Tree Pittsburgh’s Caitlin Lenahan says Arbor Aid is a unique opportunity to have Pittsburgh’s woodworking community gathered and showcased all under one roof.  She says a number of cities throughout the country are known for their crafting communities, and Pittsburgh should be numbered among them.

“We have a great craftsman community here,” Lenahan says.  “I think that Pittsburgh’s community of woodworkers definitely rivals other cities.”

This year’s event will also allow the public an early preview of the future The Wheel Mill, a planned indoor bicycle park.  Harry Geyer, carpenter and owner of the park, has constructed 75 percent of the course’s infrastructure from reclaimed lumber. 

“The mountain biking community naturally cares a lot about trees and the forest, so I think it’s a great way to mix the two together,” Geyer says. He hopes to be open by the beginning of next year.

And as the fall planting season comes to an end, Tree Pittsburgh has just planted its 15,000 tree, of its 20,000-tree goal, as part of TreeVitalize.  The program is a partnership between Tree Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the City of Pittsburgh, County Parks, and Pennsylvania DCNR.

Saturday’s event begins with the Soil Mixer, from 6:30 to 8:30, with food and drink, and woodworking demonstrations.  And the Main Event, from 8:30 to midnight, will feature live music along with food and drink from local establishments.   Click here for tickets and more information.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Danielle Crumrine, Caitlin Lenahan

El Burro Comeador, take-out tacos and burritos, now open in Central Northside

El Burro Comedor opened last week in the Central Northside, offering take-out burritos and tacos.  The eatery is owned by Wes DeRenouard, and Derek Burnell, co-owner of Round Corner Cantina, in Lawrenceville.

DeRenouard describes the food as border-style Mexican food, which in addition to tacos and burritos also includes chilaquiles, carne asada fries, and the Tijuana Street Dog—a bacon-wrapped hotdog topped with avocado or pico de gallo.

Located at 1108 Federal Street, El Burro is the latest opening in a series of revitalization projects in the Federal-North corridor.  The restaurant is across from the Garden Theater Block redevelopment, where several historic renovations are currently in progress.  

Also along Federal Street are the $15 million Federal Hill housing development, and the Allegheny branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, which opened in 2009 on the site of a former gas station.

El Burro’s building, which was previously home to Toula’s Restaurant, was recently renovated by developer Bill Barron.  In addition to the improved restaurant space, the second floor has been renovated as a single apartment unit.  Barron is also responsible for the renovation of the nearby Crazy Mocha and Deli on North buildings, on North Avenue.

Burrito offerings at El Burro include chorizo, chile relleno, carne asada and rice, bean and cheese, with prices ranging from $4 to $8.  Tacos at $2.50, include shrimp, shredded beef, and carnitas, among others.  Soda offerings includ eJarritos, the popular Mexican soda featuring flavors such as tamarind and guava, and Mexican Coke.

El Burro is one of several restaurants to open in the lower Northside in recent months.  Earlier this year, Parkhurst Dining Services opened Eco Bistro within the Allegheny Center Mall, an earth-friendly lunch spot that focuses on fresh and local ingredients. 


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Wes DeRenouard

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

Downtown's Century Building wins Urban Land Institute's excellence award

Downtown’s Century Building was built over 100 years ago and it’s still garnering accolades.  The Washington D.C.-based Urban Land Institute (ULI) has awarded TREK Development’s 2009 retrofit of the structure a Jack Kemp Workforce Housing Models of Excellence Award.

The $18.1 million development is praised for two key components: its sustainable development practices, and a commitment to maintaining workforce housing in the heart of the city.

According to ULI, it was the first residential structure in Pittsburgh to receive LEED Gold certification.  Additionally, TREK installed an open-loop geothermal system to reduce the building’s dependence on non-renewable energy sources.

And together with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, a bicycle commuter center—made of recycled metal shipping containers—was installed on the site. 

PDP President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup says the Century Building is a "beautiful, innovative mixed-use development," and applauds TREK's commitment to creating affordable housing options in Downtown, and their attenton to sustainability.

In an effort to maintain affordable workforce housing at the site, a 30-year declaration of restrictive covenants was placed on the property, requiring that specific units be rented to households between 60 and 120 percent of the area median income.

The project is praised for its use of creative financing, which included funds from the Heinz Endowments, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, as well as the URA and the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development.

Century Building is bounded on one side by Katz Plaza, a 23,000 square foot square that is home to the  weekly JazzLive series—a project of the Cultural Trust—as well as a unique fountain and benches designed by artist Louise Bourgeois. 

Other cultural amenities nearby include the Cabaret at Theater Square and Backstage Bar, the Benedum Center for Performing Arts, and numerous restaurants including Meat and Potatoes, and one located in the ground floor of the Century Building, Grille on Seventh. 

ULI calls the Century Building a “model for sustainable development, adaptive use, downtown housing, and cross-sector partnerships.”  It goes on to say that the project is worthy of replication in other cities which are addressing concerns about pricing “essential residents” out of the housing market.


Writer:  Andrew Moore

Eat + Drink: Charcuterie and cocktails; 90-second wood fired pizza; yogurt and more

This week in Pop City's Eat + Drink roundup:

- Nicky's Thai Kitchen, the popular Allegheny West Thai restaurant, will be opening a new location downtown, at the corner of Penn Avenue and 9th Street.  Sinful Sweets by Christopher George is also planned to open in the adjacent storefront at 901 Penn Avenue.

- The Strip District’s Bar Marco has announced it will team up with Chef Justin Severino, of Cure, every Monday for charcuterie, cheese, and cocktail pairings.  The weekly events will be menu-free, with custom-made cocktails built for guests based on personal preferences.  Cocktails, with small charcuterie and cheese tastings, will be $10.  Bar Marco, 2216 Penn Avenue.  412-471-1900.

- Stone Neapolitan Pizzeria at River Vue is now open.  The restaurant features an Italian imported wood-burning oven and promises a 90 second cooking time.  Located in the ground floor of the recently opened RiverVue apartments, the pizzeria is across the street from downtown’s Point State Park.  Also on the menu are house-made mozzarella, Italian sodas, draft and bottled beer, as well as made-to-order salads and sandwiches.  300 Liberty Avenue, Suite 100.  412-904-4531.

- Yogli Mogli, a franchise of the national chain, opened recently on Washington Road in Mt Lebanon.  The eatery is a self-serve yogurt shop that features classic flavors with unique parings such as blueberry acai, and pomegranate raspberry tart.  Toppings range from mango, lychee, and peaches, to cookie dough, walnuts, and granola.  695 Washington Road, Mount Lebanon.  412-207-2291.

- Mrs. Jean’s Southern Cuisine has moved to a new location at Hosanna House, 807 Wallace Ave., Wilkinsburg.  The restaurant also recently finished taping an episode for Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.  412-723-2015.

- The South Side’s Carson Street Deli has reopened after closing briefly for renovations to the sandwich shop and craft beer store.  In addition to bottled beers from local breweries and specialty imports, Carson Street Deli now features 20 taps.  The deli hosts weekly beer samplings Wednesdays, from 6 to 8 p.m.  1507 E. Carson Street.  412-381-5335.


Writer:  Andrew Moore

Heidelberg Passive House now complete, first in Western Pennsylvania

The first Passive House in Western Pennsylvania is now complete.  A project of ACTION-Housing Inc., the home is a prototype for affordable housing that drastically cuts energy consumption by 85 percent.  An open house celebration will be held tomorrow, November 1st, at the newly-constructed home in Heidelberg.

Passive House design was first developed in Germany as a performance-based standard which limits energy consumption to 4.75 KBTU per square foot, per year.  According to Linda Metropulos, sustainability and development consultant with ACTION-Housing, that amounts to just 10 to 15 percent of what a typical house uses.

“It’s a very ambitious, but very possible standard to reach,” Metropulos says.  “We wanted to be able to demonstrate how that standard could be applied to a house in Pittsburgh.”

The Heidelberg Passive House is built with minimal ductwork and no furnace.  Instead, the home achieves its energy performance through super-insulation, by eliminating thermal bridges, maximizing air tightness, and features high-performance windows and doors, among other techniques.

ACTION-Housing hopes to replicate this house, or versions of it, throughout the region.  But Metropulos hopes it will also inspire other developers and contractors in the region to take-on the Passive House challenge.

“We would like other people to recognize that this is possible in Western Pennsylvania,” she says.

Although the home’s Passive House certification is still pending, a quality control consultant oversaw the construction process, and conducted performance tests using robust modeling tools, Metropulos says.

ACTION-Housing has been a weatherization assistance program provider for the past 30 years.  Additionally, it does renovation and new construction of houses that are for sale to moderate income households.  The Heidelberg Passive House is for sale to a household that is at 80% area-median income or less. 

The project is a partnership between the Allegheny County Economic Development and the Borough of Heidelberg, among others.  The home was designed by Thoughtful Balance Architects.

ACTION-Housing is also in the process of conducting a Passive House-standard retrofit of the McKeesport YMCA, built in 1922.

Tomorrow’s open house will be held at 1606 W. Railroad Street, Heidelberg, PA, from 3 to 6 p.m.  Speakers include County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Heidelberg Mayor Kenneth A. LaSota and Katrin Klingenberg, executive director of the Passive House Institute US.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Linda Metropulos

What's one way to revitalize Wilkinsburg? Plant 500 trees.

The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) has one primary goal: to improve the community and business district.  One way it’s working to meet this goal is by planting more than 500 trees in the borough.

This past Saturday, 77 new trees were planted along the Penn Avenue commercial corridor in Wilkinsburg.  It was the fourth planting since the effort began, with a total of 109 trees in the business district, and the rest in Wilkinsburg’s residential neighborhoods.

“There’s one more planting to finish it up, but we’ve finally gotten to that point where we have a nice set of new street trees all though the business district,” says WCDC Executive Director Tracey Evans.

Officially known as the Wilkinsburg TreeVitalize Project: Rooted in Wilkinsburg – 500 Tree Initiative, the effort is a partnership between WCDC, TreeVitalize Pittsburgh, the Borough of Wilkinsburg, and the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association. 

The tree plantings are funded by a grant from PennVEST, a state agency whose primary purpose in the initiative is to address stormwater runoff. 

And while addressing stormwater is also a priority for the partners in Wilkinsburg, street trees have numerous benefits to the community beyond affecting water quality. 

“It’s important because we have 27,000 cars a day drive down Penn Avenue,” Evans says.  As her organization works to bring businesses into vacant storefronts, street trees are part of a vibrant streetscape that will help attract those new tenants.

Types of trees include elm, gingko, hackberry, honey locust, Kentucky coffeetree, Japanese tree lilac, and maple.

WCDC began as an all-volunteer organization in 2007, and a fulltime staff was hired in 2010.  In the past two years the organization has implemented other streetscape improvement projects including new borough banners in the commercial district, fixed lamp posts, and purchased trash receptacles. 

Additionally, WCDC has marketed 40 commercial properties and helped to fill several vacant storefronts with new businesses.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Tracey Evans

$500,000 boost to historic renovations in Downtown Pittsburgh, grants available to building owners

The renovation of historic buildings in Downtown Pittsburgh has been given yet another boost.  The Colcom Foundation has granted Landmarks Community Capital (LCC) $500,000 to create a loan fund for property owners of historic structures in the Golden Triangle.  The program aims to spur more retail in downtown’s historic buildings.

LCC is the lending subsidiary of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF).  According to PHLF President Arthur Ziegler, the loans are available for borrowing to start a business in a historic building, as well as for storefront and façade improvements.

“It’s for improvements to the physical historic real estate,” Ziegler says.  He adds that the new initiative is designed to work in concert with existing efforts, such as the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Paris to Pittsburgh program, and the URA’s façade improvements program.

LCC will make loans to building owners ranging from $5,000 to $30,000.

Although there are several historic buildings looming tall in Pittsburgh’s skyline, Ziegler says most structures are between two and five stories. 

And downtown’s historic districts, which include the Cultural District and Market Square, may soon be expanded.  Funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historic Museum Commission, Ziegler says PHLF has recently submitted an expanded districts proposal to the National Register.

This new initiative comes on the heels of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s $4 million Downtown Preservation Program, a partnership with PHLF that is restoring seven historic structures in the Wood and Market Street corridors.

For more information about the loans, and to apply, visit LCC's website.



Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Arthur Ziegler

63-room boutique hotel coming to East Liberty, historic renovation of former YMCA building

A 63-room boutique hotel is coming to the heart of heart of East Liberty.  The development will be a historic renovation of the five-story former YMCA building on Whitfield Street, behind the East Liberty Presbyterian Church.

East Liberty Development Inc. (ELDI) is the project developer, and was recently awarded an $800,000 federal grant from the Office of Community Services, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service. 

Previously, attempts to convert the circa-1911 building into condominiums or apartments have stalled and failed.  ELDI’s Nate Cunningham says the current historic renovation plan maximizes the use of the building, and will preserve many of its original functions. 

Existing hotel-like rooms in the building’s upper floors will be expanded to create larger hotel rooms.  The ground level will feature an 80-seat restaurant space, in addition to a 120-seat ballroom, and a 300-seat gymnasium.  The gym will be available for larger evens including sit-down or musical events, Cunningham says.

The hotel will be operated by a national brand known for its commitment to transitional neighborhoods, with a strong cultural and arts focus.

This is the fifth OCS grant that ELDI has been awarded.  Grant recipients are required to create a specified amount of jobs as part of the development, a certain number of which are to be reserved for low-income workers.

“It’s nice because it’s a recognition of the commitment we’ve had to making this a neighborhood for everyone,” Cunningham says.

One hundred fulltime jobs are expected to be created for the ongoing operations of the hotel, and restaurant and beverage components.

Cunningham hopes to begin construction on the project by the first quarter of 2013.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Nate Cunningham

Summerset at Frick Park Fall Festival, Mark Schneider park dedication

Summerset at Frick Park will be buzzing with activity this weekend, including a Fall Festival, groundbreaking ceremonies, and a remembrance of the late community development leader Mark Schneider.

During the community’s Fall Festival on Saturday, October 27th, a parade will lead through the neighborhood, culminating at Crescent Park.  In attendance will be the Alderdice Marching Band, Studio Capezzuti’s Giant Puppets, the Frick Park Environmental Center, and a half dozen food trucks including Franktuary, Oh My Grill, and Peddlin’ Company Pierogies.

In addition to the festival, the community is gathering to remember Mark Schneider, the late visionary who led the development to transform a former slag heap into this vibrant home place.

Craig Dunham, of Summerset Land Development Associates, says Schneider was the leading vision and voice for the development.

“Mark was a leader in our partnership, really in the forefront of the project since its inception back in 1997,” Dunham says.  Schneider died earlier this summer after being injured in a bicycle accident in Maryland.  He was 55.

To commemorate his life and contributions to the city, a new community park will be dedicated to Schneider within Summerset.  New townhomes will face the square, which will include a lawn, trees, a pedestal and plaque, as well as benches and bicycle racks.

“It’ll be a little, quiet place within the community that is surrounded by homes and very much a central part of the neighborhood,” Dunham says.

Schneider was an avid cyclist, longtime trail proponent, and a co-founder of Pedal Pittsburgh.  Dunham says the Three Rivers bicycle racks will be placed at the site to commemorate that aspect of his life.

In addition to the new park, construction has begun on a new 131-unit apartment complex.  Designed by Rothschild Doyno Collaborative, it will be the largest rental community at Summerset.  Dunham expects the first units to be complete by April of next year.

And finally, a series of new roads are set to be opened within the site, including Park View Boulevard, Biltmore, Overton, Beardsley, and Shelburne Lanes. 

The Festival will take place from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at Crescent Park on Parkview Boulevard.  412-420-0120.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Craig Dunham

Design Awards 2012 winners include Silver Medal Gateway T Station

The Design Awards’ Silver Medal is reserved for a project of the decade, a design considered by the jury to be flawless.  The Gateway T Station in Downtown Pittsburgh has won that award, the first project to receive the accolade since 2008.

AIA Pittsburgh’s Executive Director Anne Swager says this year’s jury placed a special emphasis on designing with the public, and for the public good.

“That Gateway T Station project, which won the Silver Medal, is just a really great example of civic architecture, architecture that’s for the people,” Swager says.

The transit station, which uses a glass structure to introduce natural lighting into the underground platform, was designed by Light/Motion Collaborative, a partnership between Pfaffmann + Associates and EDGE Studios.  Pfaffman + Associates were also designers of the Meadowcroft Rockshelter, the 2008 Silver Medal winner.

In addition to civic design, a second theme presented itself during this year’s Design Awards: the influence of the continuing recession.  Because of that, Swager says, many of the projects came from universities, which tend to be a little more resilient in lean times.

But despite economic conditions Swager says it was a very strong year for design.

“There is no question that architects are more than capable of designing well even with limited resources—they just do,” she says.  “And they can make a difference even with limited resources.  It’s the imagination and the design capabilities of architects that really counts.”

This year’s People’s Choice Award went to the University of Pittsburgh's Undergraduate Chemistry Lab by Renaissance 3 Architects, P.C.  The project also won a juried certificate of merit.  And the Young Architects Studio Competition award went to Beatrice Spolidoro for the Symphony Bridge redesign of the Fort Wayne bridge.

The 2012 Design Awards were held this past Thursday, October 11th, in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Other Pittsburgh-based projects to win awards include downtown's PNC Legacy Project, and Wigle Whiskey Distillery, EDGE Studio; University of Pittsburgh Chevron Chemistry Annex, Wilson Architects, Inc. + Renaissance 3 Architects, P.C.; Western Avenue Loft and Slopes Pylon, Loysen + Kreuthmeier Architects; Crohhan's Edge Townhomes, mossArchitects; Pittsburgh's Tribute to Children, Astorino; South Hills Retirement Residence, Rothschild Doyno Collaborative and Thoughtful Balance; and Eco Bistro, Lami Grubb Architects, LP.

Regional and urban design winners include the Allegheny Riverfront Vision Plan, Perkins Eastman; The Oakland 2025 Masterplan, Pfaffmann + Associates/Studio for Spatial Practice; Almono Vision, Rothschild Doyno Collaborative; and Market Square Place, Strada.

For a full list of this year’s Design Awards winners, click here to visit AIA Pittsburgh’s site.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Anne Swager

Great Allegheny Passage near complete, final segments underway

The Great Allegheny Passage is almost complete, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held this weekend to celebrate the construction of the trail’s final two segments.

The trail is a 141 mile car-free route for cyclists and hikers running from Homestead, PA to Cumberland, Maryland.  In Cumberland the GAP joins the C&O Canal Towpath, which together creates a continuous, 325-mile long trail from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.

Saturday’s ceremony was held at Sandcastle Waterpark, where a new segment will be built along the amusement park’s interior road, at the rear of the park.  The new segment will be separated from vehicular traffic.

The final segment will be built on a former railroad spur on land that had until recently belonged to Keystone Iron and Metal.  Friends of the Riverfront (FOR) had worked with Keystone to develop a land-swap deal that was necessary to fill this final void in the trail.

“They’ve been a great partner for a very long time and it was a pleasure working with them now and into the future,” says Thomas Baxter, FOR executive director.

Baxter expects the two segments to be complete sometime next year in late spring or early summer.  Once complete, a trail party will be held to commemorate the occasion.  Baxter says a date will be announced soon.

“It’s a monumental undertaking, but thankfully, through a lot of dedicated people it’s finally all coming together,” Baxter says.

The Great Allegheny Passage has been a work in progress for the past 30 years.  In 1995 the Allegheny Trail Alliance was formed, a coalition of regional trail organizations that includes the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, the Steel Valley Trail Council, Mountain Maryland Trails, and more.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source: Thomas Baxter

Morningside pop up market and fall festival to showcase neighborhood and co-op this Saturday

This Saturday a pop up market place in Morningside hopes to offer a taste of what that neighborhood has to offer, and to demonstrate a model co-op still in the works.

In conjunction with the Morningside Area Community Council’s Fall-O-Ween Festival, Talia Piazza has organized a Pop-Up Co-Op that will transform a vacant storefront into a café for the day, and a streetscape filled with vendors.  She hopes it will allow residents and visitors to imagine what a vibrant businesses district could look like in the neighborhood.

It’s the type of transformation Piazza’s new pop-up initiative wants to have in budding commercial districts throughout the city.

“We want to try to expose you to that, and open your eyes to the possibilities of opening a business in a place like Morningside,” Piazza says. 

The pop up market is part of a project that was awarded funding through Awesome Pittsburgh, a local chapter of the Awesome Foundation, which distributes monthly $1,000 grants to projects and creators.  Piazza’s project was one of two selected for the first round of grants in Pittsburgh.

Piazza’s goal is to open a permanent co-op in a neighborhood, like Morningside, that has the infrastructure and potential to become a vibrant district.  The co-op will offer small businesses shared space to sell their goods, to pool resources, while cutting the costs of rent, promotion and marketing, and other necessities that can be prohibitive to first-time business owners. 

Piazza, who works fulltime for the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development, also plans to open a storefront for her bakery. 

“Coming from community development, if I open up a business I want it to be able to contribute to a neighborhood,” Piazza says.  “And I think if we can get other small business people to think like that we can make real changes in neighborhoods”

This Saturday, October 20th, the event will take place at Greenwood and Chislett, in Morningside, from noon to 4 p.m.  A vacant storefront, at 6908 Greenwood Street, will become a café for the day, stocked with baked goods from Piazza’s own Baked PGH, and coffee drinks from Simpatico Espresso.

Costumes are encouraged for the Fall-O-Ween Festival, which is a family and kid-friendly event.

Participating in the market place will be Garfield Farms, offering their locally grown greens herbs, and salad mix; Lenny’s Produce; LaScola’s Italian Ice; Union Project Ceramics, and more.  Live music throughout the day will be provided by The Beagle Brothers and Ben Shannon.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Talia Piazza

Plan to develop former Saks site downtown includes subterraneous parking, retail, apartments

A new mixed-use development is moving ahead at the former Saks site downtown.  The plan includes 20,000 square feet of retail space, subterraneous parking, and 101 apartment units. 

Developers Millcraft Investments and McKnight Realty Partners, with the Pittsburgh Parking Authority, have entered into an exclusive negotiation period with the URA.  The planned development would demolish the current four-story structure, as well as three smaller structures along Fifth Avenue.

URA Director Robert Rubinstein calls this an exciting project that “magnifies the original concept considerably,” bringing in two developers with a strong track record both in Pittsburgh and nationally.

In addition to underground parking, the development will include several levels of parking, to be located above the retail space, and below the market rate apartments. 

Parking is already in high demand in the central business district, Rubinstein says, and with other neighboring redevelopment projects in the works this structure will help to meet a growing demand.  Other adjacent projects include the Oliver building’s redevelopment into hotel and office space; PNC’s coming use of the former Lord and Taylor building; and the conversion of the Reed Smith and Alcoa buildings into apartments.

Rubinstein says that although a subterranean development in the heart of downtown will be quite expensive, he has the highest level of confidence that the development will take place.

“This is a development team that has done many deals that people thought were impossible,” Rubinstein says.  “They find a creative way to use the various tools that are out there.”

Millcraft Investments is a subsidiary of Millcraft Industries, responsible for several notable projects downtown, including Market Square Place, Piatt Place, and the RiverVue Apartments.  McKnight Realty has previously purchased and converted the former Gimbels building downtown into the Heinz 57 Center, and owns the nearby Grant, Oliver, and Brooks Brothers buildings.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Robert Rubinstein

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

New homes underway in Braddock, former UPMC hospital site

TREK Development held a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday for a project that will bring 24 new apartments to the former UPMC-Braddock Hospital site.  The development is part of a larger $20.3 million redevelopment of the three-acre site.

Phase I of the development will consist of eight one-bedroom, eight two-bedroom, and eight three-bedroom apartments; 800, 1,300, and 1,500 square-feet respectively.  The project is using low-income housing tax credits, and the target market will be 60% of the area median income.

Rothschild Doyno Collaborative is the project architect.  Construction is scheduled to begin next week, with an estimated total cost of $8 million for phase I.

According to John Ginocchi, TREK’s director of development, the two-bedroom units will be townhouse-style apartments.  Four of the units will be fully wheelchair accessible.

The property was given to the Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority by UPMC following the hospital’s closure in 2010.  The county sold the property to TREK for $250,000 earlier this month.

In addition to phase I, TREK’s redevelopment plan for the site includes 11 new single-family homes, approximately 20,000 square-feet of commercial and office space, and a community park.  Ginocchi says his company is still in the planning phase of the commercial facility, but that it includes a MedExpress urgent-care center as its first tenant.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  John Ginocchi

Oakland 2025 master plan released; group seeks proposals to remake Schenley High

Oakland has published a plan for its future.  Titled The Oakland 2025 Master Plan: A Vision for Sustainable Living and Mobility, it’s the neighborhood’s first comprehensive master plan in decades.

According to the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation (OPDC)—facilitators of the study—the document outlines strategies to guide and support Oakland’s continued growth as a center of innovation and technology, and for supporting quality of life for residents.

Wanda Wilson, OPDC Executive Director, says the process was successful in bringing together the interests of the institutional, development, and residential communities.   

“We engaged about 400 people through the whole process covering the range of stakeholders that we have in Oakland,” Wilson says.  “It's really the first broad-based community engagement the likes of what the Oakland community hasn't seen for a couple decades.”

The plan recognizes that without an improved housing stock and reliable transportation options Oakland is at risk of losing its edge as an innovation center.

Addressing those issues, OPDC is seeking to create a transportation system that serves all users equally, including pedestrians, cyclists, transit, and automobiles, with strong, well-designed neighborhood connections. 

OPDC anticipates bus rapid transit to be implemented in the Fifth Forbes Corridor, accompanied by dedicated east-west bicycle lanes.  The plan recommends route alternatives, as well as improved parking management and the possibility of an Oakland-Downtown circulator.

The plan also proposes “Ten Big Changes for Oakland”, including increasing the number of people who both live and work in its neighborhoods, and increasing access to parks, open space, and trails.

According to the document, housing upgrades would be achieved through rehab, conservation, and financial incentives to spur innovative new housing choices.  Options include employer assisted housing, trailhead neighborhoods, and 50+ intergenerational communities.

A release party for the plan will be held on November 1st,  6 to 8 p.m. at the University of Pittsburgh’s Alumni Hall, 4227 Fifth Avenue.

Also in Oakland, Fourth River Development LLC has issued a request for proposals for redevelopment of the former Schenley High School.  Fourth River is working on behalf of The Pittsburgh Board of Public Education.

The School Board states that through an open community engagement process it will approve the sale of the school to a competitive bidder based on criteria deemed important by the School District and the North Oakland community.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Wanda Wilson

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


PGH Mobile Food coalition wants to bring more food trucks to Pittsburgh

Operating a food truck in Pittsburgh can be quite difficult.  In fact, some trucks operate illegally.  But the recently formed PGH Mobile Food coalition is hoping to change that.

“We are trying to change the law that the City of Pittsburgh currently has in place for mobile food,” says Megan Lindsey, co-owner of the Franktuary Food Truck.  “We would like to see more food trucks here because it’s part of a thriving city-scape.”

The coalition also wants to make it easier for prospective vendors to understand the current set of rules, and how to successfully operate within them.

PGH Mobile Food is partnering with the Institute for Justice (IJ), a D.C.-based public interest law firm that has worked in various cities to refine rules governing mobile food.  According to Lindsey, IJ has established best practices that keep food safety standards in place, but remove anti-competitive barriers to food truck operators.

Lindsey points to successful code modifications in El Paso, Texas.  In that city, once a more user-friendly code was put in place entrepreneurs, many of them immigrants, were able to launch their businesses with greater ease. 

“They found a lot of these folks were coming and starting trucks and serving a lot of great food,” Lindsey says.  “That’s what we hope will happen in Pittsburgh.”

Prior to forming PGH Mobile Food, Lindsey learned that City Councilman Bill Peduto’s office was working independently to amend the mobile food codes.  That initiative inspired Lindsey and business partner Tim Tobitsch to launch the coalition.

“Now that we’re involved we feel like we can help influence things from the owner/operator perspective,” Lindsey says.

PGH Mobile Food is partnering with the Saxifrage School and IJ for a lecture series titled “How to Change a Law.”  The first will be held tonight at 7 p.m. at Bar Marco (2216 Penn Avenue, the Strip District).  The second discussion will take place the following Wednesday, October 10th, at the same location.

And a Food Truck Rally is planned for Sunday, October 14th, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Parking Lot, at 5989 Penn Circle South.  The event will include Pittsburgh’s various mobile vendors and a speech from Peduto.

The PGH Mobile Food coalition includes the Franktuary, Oh My Grill, BRGR, PGH Taco Truck, Fukuda, Dozen Food Truck, and Zum Zum food trucks.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Megan Lindsey

Design Awards to highlight region's best in architecture, ceremony and gala next week

It’s generally understood that local architects and planners contribute immeasurably to the quality of Pittsburgh’s built environment. But each year Design Pittsburgh honors a non-architect for using design to advance the region. This year’s Gold Medal recipient is Lisa Schroeder, Riverlife CEO.

“She’s done a tremendous amount of work with Riverlife,” says Anne Swager, AIA Pittsburgh executive director. “They’ve really set the standard for development on the rivers, and made our city in many respects a world class city because of that.”

According to Swager, Riverlife often goes beyond just advocating for healthy and sustainable riverfront developments, and has raised funds and administered several such projects itself.

“And it’s all under Lisa’s leadership,” Swager says. “She’s been a tremendous ally in the world of design.”

Design Pittsburgh is AIA Pittsburgh’s annual celebration of local architecture and architects, from work here at home, to both national and international projects.

Schroeder will be presented with her Gold Medal award at a ceremony next week. Following the reception, the winners of this year’s Design Awards will be announced during a gala and awards ceremony.

Design categories include Architectural Detail/Craftsmanship; Architecture; Design & Innovation; Historic Preservation; Interior Architecture; Regional & Urban Design; Timeless Architecture; and the Young Architects Studio Competition. The winner of this year’s People’s Choice Award will also be announced at the ceremony.

Swager believes Pittsburgh is continuing to emerge as a design center, where architects have been at the forefront of green and now evidence-based design.

“When you hear about Pittsburgh being one of the greatest cities to live in, I think that that’s a lot about the design of the city and how pleasing it is, and how well it functions,” she says.

The Design Gala and Awards will be held on Thursday, October 11th, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Education Center, 805/807 Liberty Avenue, downtown. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Anne Swager

Pittsburgh Step Trek will celebrate unique step lighting project this weekend

At the annual Pittsburgh Step Trek this Saturday, October 6th, the South Side Slopes neighborhood is celebrating something new: the completion of a step-lighting project unlike any other in the city.

The neighborhood is covered in steps, which are necessary to navigate the hills that rise above the South Side Flats.  And many of these staircases are actual city streets where homes are accessible by foot only.  In many ways these steps define the neighborhood.

“It’s very unique and it speaks to the idea of how do you inhabit an urban hillside, and it’s a fascinating thing,” says architect and neighborhood resident Peter Kreuthmeier.  “I think they should be treasured, and they should be maintained, and they should be celebrated.”

So the fact that the neighborhood’s most prominent steps, rising above 18th Street, were in disrepair, unlit, and felt generally unsafe was a problem that needed a creative solution. 

As an Elm Street Community, the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association and the South Side Local Development Corporation developed a plan to light the steps, and use them as an inviting gateway to the neighborhood.

Now, five years later, the staircase lighting project is complete.  Each stair tread is illuminated by a linear LED fixture.  And projector fixtures, attached to cor-ten steel poles, carpet the steps in ambient lighting.

The lighting project was designed in collaboration with Loysen + Kreuthmeier Architects, studio i architectural lighting, Klavon Design Associates, Watson Engineers and Baker Engineering.  It’s the latest of three gateway projects, all of which feature the steel alloy cor-ten, chosen for its durability and historical significance to the neighborhood.

“Cor-ten is just a very visceral material that resonates with the historic industrial lifeblood of the South Side,” Kreuthmeier says.  “It shouts steel.”

Duquesne Light funded the entire project’s lighting, over $120,000, through its Power of Light Grant Program.

The 12th annual Step Trek, a mapped hike through the neighborhood's numerous city steps, will take place this Saturday, October 6th, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Registration is held at 21st and Josephine Streets at the South Side Park.  The Trek features two routes, Black and Gold, which are 3.6 and 2.1 miles respectively.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Lisa Kahle; Peter Kreuthmeier

The Shop in East Liberty now open, handcrafted art, home goods and jewelry

The Shop in East Liberty celebrated a grand opening last week, and is now offering home goods, everyday art, and jewelry.  All items in the store are handmade, and curated from local makers, as well as from artists throughout the country.  Owner/artist Julia Reynolds describes it as a retail store for design-conscious people.

Reynolds’ vision for The Shop is to be a comfortable space to display and view handmade items, appearing naturally as they might in a home.  She wants the space to contrast with the experience of viewing objects in a gallery, which she says can often be intimidating.

“You want to own something unique and that’s handmade, but you want to come to a place you feel comfortable, where you can touch the artwork or objects,” Reynolds says. 

And The Shop aims to be affordable too. 

“I hope that people can find things that they love and can easily take home to enjoy,” Reynolds says.

The Shop is located at 214 N. Highland Avenue, two doors down from Union Pig & Chicken. 

Reynolds, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College of Arts Management, has lived in East Liberty with her husband for several years.  When she began looking for a location to open The Shop, she says staying in the neighborhood was a priority.

The space was completely remodeled from an office-use space to now have a bright and modern feel, reflecting the type of products offered at the store.

The Shop is open until 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings.  Reynolds is hoping her store can help to build foot traffic in this commercial district.

As a first-time business owner, Reynolds believes she has chosen the right neighborhood to open a store.

“We’re in an area that I think encourages this opportunity for anyone,” she says.

The Shop is open Tuesday through Saturday, at 214 N. Highland Avenue. 


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Julia Reynolds

Night Market to pop up at Gallery Crawl; vote for People's Choice at Design Exhibit

The Night Market is popping again, bringing food, music and art to a vacant lot in Downtown Pittsburgh.

A component of Project Pop Up Pittsburgh, the market will take place during this week’s Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District.  Bethany Tucke, a project consultant, says the Night Market helps to achieve one of the initaitive's original goals: to activate vacant or underused space.

"The parking lot where we will be hosting the Night Market is a daytime parking lot that operates weekdays only," Tucke says.  "Figuring out a way to pop something up that’s interesting for both residents and visitors to downtown, and giving an opportunity for creative entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their goods in underused space, is exciting."

The list of food vendors has grown to include 10 eateries, including downtown’s Bluebird Kitchen and Conflict Kitchen, as well as BRGR, Reyna’s Tacos, and Smiling Banana Leaf.

Handmade ware vendors include Beads of Light, Best of Bizarre, Creative Customology, Devorah Naturals, Erra Creations, SMD Jewelry, and Tugboat Printshop.

Night Market will be located at 917-919 Liberty Avenue, between Ninth and Tenth Streets, from 7 p.m. to midnight.  But the footprint of the market itself has grown. This Friday’s event will also extend into adjacent Exchange Way, between Ninth Street and Garrison Way.

At the Gallery Crawl the public will also have an opportunity to view nominations for the 2012 Design Pittsburgh awards, and to vote for their pick in the People’s Choice Award.

Design Pittsburgh is presented by AIA Pittsburgh to highlight outstanding architecture and design in the region.  Last year’s People’s Choice Award went to Desmone and Associates Architects for their work at Savoy Restaurant in the Strip District.

The Project Pop Up initiative began last year as a way to animate vacant storefronts and public spaces throughout downtown with the goal of improving safety and economic health.  The project is a program of Mayor Ravenstahl, the URA, City Planning, and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Bethany Tucke; Leigh Ann White

Deal near for transit-oriented development at South Hills Village T station

A $41.5 million transit-oriented development could soon come to the South Hills Village T station.   A tentative agreement was announced last week between the Port Authority and Massaro Dawson Group to develop 6.43 acres of surface parking lot in Bethel Park into a community that includes 320 apartment units and a clubhouse. 

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced the deal last Wednesday.  He says the goal of transit-oriented development is to create compact, livable communities centered around a high quality transit system.

“Massaro Dawson Group has put forward an exciting plan to develop a 298,000 square-foot residential complex at the South Hills Village T Station, and we look forward to working with them to make this vision a reality,” he said in a statement.

The Port Authority Planning & Stakeholder Relations Committee has endorsed the project, and it now moves to the full Board of Directors for consideration.  If approved, Port Authority management, along with the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, will enter an exclusive negotiation period with the developer to determine final terms and conditions. 

Final review and approval will be provided by the Board and the Federal Transit Administration.  According to spokesperson Amie Downs, Fitzgerald’s office fully expects the Board to endorse and approve the project.  Twice before similar projects at this site have failed to materialize.

In exchange for development rights and use of 160 parking spaces in the garage, Massaro Dawson has proposed a 52-year lease with Port Authority totaling $5,576,218. Exact terms of the agreement will be determined during the negotiating period.

In April, the Redevelopment Authority and the Port Authority issued a Request for Development Proposals for this site.  Massaro Dawson’s proposal was selected as the most responsible and highest rated proposal by an evaluation committee.

Dennis Davin, County Director of Economic Development, expects a formal development agreement to be reached by early next year.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Amie Downs, Dennis Davin 

Urban Design Associates publishes open source manual on energizing communities, Everyday Squares

It’s often the smallest of spaces that can radically transform neighborhoods.  Pittsburgh-based Urban Design Associates (UDA) has spent the past summer documenting such places in the city where cafés, galleries, and boutiques have become agents of change.

“A lot of the things that are working organically in American neighborhoods are the sparks of inspiration and hard work by small businesses,” says UDA chairman Rob Robinson.

Their findings have been published in an open source manual titled Everyday SquaresThe manual offers as case studies cafes and restaurants like Espresso A Manno, Tazza D’Orro and Round Corner Cantina, and traditional squares like the new Village Park at Point Park University.

But in addition to just providing a gathering place, Robinson says he has found Pittsburgh’s small business owners to be incredibly community minded, and willing to share their facilities for various neighborhood needs.

“They give up space for the bike club meeting, or the family planning meeting, whatever it is,” Robinson says.  “All those spaces are almost universally used for community good as well as just private gain.”

But according to Robinson, designers and architects don’t always plan for these Everyday Squares.  He says many redevelopment efforts are too big, asking tenants to lease expensive storefronts with enormous footprints.  His firm is working to address these considerations.

“We have started to design spaces where the footprint for a commercial user is tiny—400 or 500 square feet, not 1,200—which is about triple of what you really need,” he says.

Robinson hopes the manual can aid commnity development corporations and other planning agencies in revitalization efforts and new development projects.

And aside from being small and flexible Robinson says successful squares are able to blend the line between public and private space. 

Not only does blending these spaces help to build a sense of comfort and community, Robinson says, it’s also good for business.  A restaurant that is able to take advantage of sidewalk or terrace seating, for example, is often able to triple its revenue without tripling overhead.

Robinsons says it’s important for neighborhood groups and planners to find out what’s working for small entrepreneurs and to create spaces that allow businesses to share resources.

“I think everybody recognized, wow, if I had three more friends here and we were all contributing to a little piece of this neighborhood, we’d be better, and our businesses would survive better,” Robinson says.  “It would be a more interesting place.”

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Rob Robinson

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

Eat + Drink: Piccolo Forno to Garden Theater; Stagioni farm dinner; Mac Diner now open; and more

 Eat + Drink is a new occasional section of Development News focusing on restaurant and bar happenings in Pittsburgh.


-  Restaurateur Domenic Branduzzi, of Lawrenceville’s Piccolo Forno, has announced plans to open a second establishment in the Central Northside.  The restaurant, which will likely be named Il Giardino—a tribute to its historic setting—will occupy the former Garden Theater space, and will be a key component in the block’s long-awaited redevelopment. 

Il Giardino joins Nakama Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, which announced plans earlier this year to open in the former Masonic building, also on North Avenue.  The block-wide redevelopment is a project of Zukin Realty.

Branduzzi hopes to be open by late summer, 2013.  Construction at both restaurant sites is expected to commence simultaneously.

Branduzzi says the space will be larger than his current restaurant, at 4,000 square feet, and will likely feature a rear patio.  Like Piccolo Forno, the restaurant will include a wood-fired pizza oven, with the addition of a pizza bar.

-  In the South Side, Stagioni will be hosting a family-style farm dinner at their restaurant next Tuesday, September 25th.  The dinner will feature produce from Pittsburgh’s Knotweed Urban Farm, a CSA and cooperative farm in Stanton Heights.  The four-course meal begins at 6:30 p.m. and is $35.  2104 E. Carson Street, South Side.  412-586-4738.

Truth Lounge celebrated a grand opening last week.  The upscale restaurant and cocktail bar replaces the former Café Allegro at 51 S. 12th Street in the South Side’s Bedford Square. The menu focuses on small plates, as well as craft cocktails and high end wine.  412-381-9600.

21st Street Coffee has relocated to a new storefront space in the Strip District, at 2002 Smallman Street.  The cafe is now next door to Kaya.  "No, we aren't changing the name," their website reads.

Mac Diner is now open in Allison Park, a breakfast-all-day eatery serving nine varieties of mac and cheese.  Open 7 days a week, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.  4848 Route 8, Allison Park 15101.  724-939-7434.


Writer:  Andrew Moore

Buildings made of cans? CANstruction 2012 opens to public next week

What would Pittsburgh landmarks look like if they were made of cans?  At this year’s CANstruction event Heinz Field, a giant ketchup bottle and several other iconic structures will be given the tin treatment and it’s all for a good cause.

CANstruction is a national design competition that asks local groups to create buildings and other fantastical structures out of canned food.  Now in its 20th year, the event is a canned food drive for regional food banks.  This is Pittsburgh’s second year participating in the competition.

This Saturday, eight teams will gather downtown at One Oxford Center for the build-out. Beginning Monday, the Can City will be open for public viewing in the building’s lobby, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.  The structures will remain on display through Friday, September 28th.

The public will have a chance to participate by voting for their favorite structure.  Votes are cast by donating a canned food item, or a reusable tote bag.  The people's choice winner will advance to compete in the national contest.

CANstruction is partnering this year with the Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project, as the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank uses these sturdier bags to distribute food to residents in the region.

On Friday a private gala will be held, with judges awarding winners in categories such as structural integrity; best use of labels; people’s choice; and best meal.

CANstruction organizer Anastasia Herk says the judges will determine a best meal winner by looking at what kinds of canned food the structure is made of and whether it would actually make a nutritious meal.

“The food banks want healthy food,” Herk says. “If a structure is made out of a bunch of SpaghettiOs cans, that might not be as appealing to the judges as something that’s made out of beans and spinach.”

One Oxford Center is located at  301 Grant Street, Downtown. 

CANstruction Pittsburgh is an all-volunteer initiative supported by the Pittsburgh design community.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Anastasia Herk

Edgewater at Oakmont grows city to riverfront, reclaimed brownfield

In Oakmont a redeveloped brownfield site is extending the city to the riverfront.  Known as Edgewater at Oakmont, the 34-acre development brings 240 new residences to this Allegheny River town.

The neighborhood is built on the former Edgewater Steel site. The vision of developers Kacin Companies and EQA Landmark Communities was to create a neighborhood that looked like it had always been there.

“It seamlessly is an extension,” says Jason Corna of Kacin Companies.  Not only does exterior architecture resemble the town’s historic housing stock, but the Allegheny Avenue business district will continue along the Edgewater development, he says.

Edgewater’s first residents began moving in earlier this year.  Corna expects 60 homes to be occupied homes by the end of the year.

Four acres along the Allegheny River have been developed as a riverfront park, with scenic overlooks and walking trails.  Along with plans for a quarter-acre parklet within the neighborhood, and additional recreation lands, the riverfront park has been donated to the Borough of Oakmont.

The development offers single-family homes, townhomes, condos and carriage-style homes.  Corna says this diversity in housing has attracted a range of buyers from ages 24 to 84.

And buyers have come from 12 different states.

“They're people that are coming to Pittsburgh for jobs, and have really taken to Oakmont because it reminds them of the quaint small-town areas that they came from,” a community that is walkable and near to amenities, Corna says.

Site remediation began in March of 2010, and home construction began in March of 2011.

Brett Malky, founder and president of EQA, grew up in Oakmont.  His company was also a partner in Summerset at Frick Park, which is Pittsburgh’s largest traditional neighborhood redevelopment of a brownfield site.  And Kacin Companies is also one of two builders at Summerset at Frick Park.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Jason Corna

The LOFTS of Mount Washington to transform unique art deco school

One of Pittsburgh’s premier art deco buildings will soon be transformed into a unique housing development.  The LOFTS of Mount Washington will be a historic renovation and retrofit of the former Prospect Middle School into 67 units of apartment housing.

“It’s unique because there’s not a lot of art deco in Pittsburgh,” says developer Victor Rodriguez.

The school was built in 1931, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.  Rodriguez, of a.m. Rodriguez Associates inc., says the renovation will preserve exterior and interior architectural details.

One such detail is a former cafetorium, which will be reused as a main entrance, and lobby/lounge area.  The elevated space opens to a balcony, which Rodriguez says creates a dramatic entryway.

The building’s upper floors offer views of downtown, and the fourth floor looks out over both the Ohio and Monongahela Rivers.  One and two bedroom apartments will range in price from $800 to $2,000, and from 760 to 1600 square feet.

Also on the property is a former gymnasium, which is being transformed into a 6,000 square-foot fitness center that will be open to the public.  Rodriguez says there are currently no fitness centers on Mount Washington. 

A 160-seat auditorium will also be renovated, and made available for productions and semi-regular programming.  Rodriguez says the auditorium’s renovation is part of historic rehabilitation guidelines.  The project has received historic tax credits, and support from the URA.

The former school grounds will be redeveloped as outdoor terraces and other green spaces.

Rodriguez says the lofts are a 20 minute public transportation commute from downtown, including a short walk to the Monongahela Incline.

The project architect is Paul Rodriguez, and the contractor is Sota Construction Services.  Rodriguez says green building practices will be used throughout the renovation.

Construction is expected to begin by the end of the year.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Victor Rodriguez