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Public meetings Thursday for MOVEPGH, city's first comprehensive transportation plan

The City of Pittsburgh is developing its first ever comprehensive transportation plan, and is asking residents to help shape that emerging vision.  Known as MOVEPGH, the effort is one of 12 components of PLANPGH, and will guide transportation decisions and spending for the next 25 years.

City Planning and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl will host the latest public meeting tomorrow, March 8th, at the CONSOL Energy Center.

The stated purpose of MOVEPGH is to provide a safe and efficient transportation network that meets the city's commercial, residential, and recreational needs. Once completed, the plan will be a vision of the city's transportation network for 2035.

Director of City Planning Noor Ismail says that at this stage in the process there will likely be a lot of competing interests, and community support will have to be developed. 

“We have a unique challenge ahead of us because we are a built-out city,” Ismail says.  “How can you accommodate growth, given our existing systems?  It's really a change of paradigm in that sense.”

Patrick Roberts, the city’s principal transportation planner, says one benefit of these public meetings is allowing various transit advocates to meet face-to-face.  Roberts hopes these sessions will lead to greater civic engagement.

After brief remarks, tomorrow’s session will then break into small groups for discussion of the planning department’s draft set of goals. 

"[The goals] are quite board at this point in time because we haven't been identifying specific projects yet, but we do find it necessary to get feedback from the public at every step of the process," Roberts says.

Roberts says because all modes of transportation are present the city, MOVEPGH needs to account for how well those different modes are coordinated, whether there is an imbalance in spending, or an inequity that's created.

“Sometimes a highway investment actually creates a barrier just as much as it creates a fast way to get out of the city,” he says.  “So we are tasked with looking toward our neighborhoods again to say, what does serve Pittsburgh better, and what does this renaissance mean in terms of transportation.”

And although issues of funding will not be addressed at this stage in the process, Ismail does say that the most recent round of proposed cuts to the Port Authority signal an urgent need for that to be addressed.

“In fact for me it needs to be addressed by yesterday,” she says.  “Those cuts reflect that something needs to be done."

MOVEPGH public meetings will be held in two shifts, on Thursday, March 8: 12:00 to 2:00 p.m., or 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.  CONSOL Energy Center, PNC Legends Level.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Noor Ismail, Patrick Roberts

Garfield Glen will add 45 new rental units to neighborhood, celebrates groundbreaking

An official groundbreaking ceremony was held in Garfield last Friday for the construction of 45 new units of affordable housing.  The homes will be scattered throughout the neighborhood, replacing vacant lots and an uninhabitable housing stock with new home construction.

The Garfield Glen development is a project of the Bloomfield-Garfield Association.  Deputy Director Aggie Brose says that in recent years her organization has been successful in constructing new houses that were targeted for home ownership.  In the coming months, BGA will have added a total of 50 new homes-for-sale to the neighborhood.

But Brose notes that not everyone can be, or desires to be, a homeowner.  To address that, part of BGC’s latest housing and land-use plan called for adding more rental units to the neighborhood.

And although Garfield Glen will consist of rentals units, because of tax credits that the project received, tenants will have the opportunity to purchase their home after 15 years.  BGC will offer programs to help tenants work on their credit, as well as other programs to assist in future home ownership.

“It's a beautiful program to rebuilt the neighborhood on,” Brose says.

Brose says her organization looked to East Liberty Development, Inc. when planning this project, and wanted a development that resembled East Liberty’s newer rental units.  The homes are designed by Lami Grubb Architects, and will be built by  S&A Homes.

BGC spent two years planning Garfield Glen, seeking funding for tax credits, and locating appropriate sites for the development. They will be offered at a mix of low- and middle-income, and market rates, with construction completed by May of this year.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Aggie Brose

Union Pig and Chicken, Yinzburgh BBQ, two new joints now open in East End

Union Pig and Chicken has opened in East Liberty, Kevin Sousa’s latest restaurant project in the East End.  The menu features barbecue and fried chicken, assorted sides, as well as draft beer, and a quality selection of whiskey.

The restaurant, which seats about 48, offers full dine-in services at four large, communal-dining tables.  The barn-like interior makes use of reclaimed wood, and other rustic details like bare, hanging bulbs.

And although the menu certainly shows its Southern influences, general manager Jessica Keyser says the restaurant isn’t trying to specialize in any specific region’s cuisine.  

Keyser says the word Union has a three-fold meaning, representing Pittsburgh’s Northern and working-class roots, as well as a marriage of various styles of regional barbecue, all under one roof: St. Louis ribs, brisket, chicken, and pork shoulder.

Union Pig and Chicken also hopes to be the first restaurant to serve Pittsburgh’s own Wigle Whiskey, from the city’s first distillery since prohibition.  Bottles of white whiskey are expected it to be in-stock in the coming month.

But Union Pig and Chicken isn’t the only barbecue joint to have opened in the East End.  Yinzburgh BBQ opened just two weeks ago on Baum Boulevard, and is now serving barbecue six days a week.

Owned and operated by Richard Coursey, a native of southeast Georgia, Coursey left his career to devote himself to the barbecue trade.  And although this currently  means consecutive 90-hour work weeks, he says, “I’m living my dream.”

Yinzburgh’s meats, including beef brisket, pulled pork, baby-back ribs, and chicken, are smoked over a combination of hickory, apple, and cherry wood for up to 12 hours.  And on weekends, Coursey is experimenting with smoked tofu for vegetarians.

Three sauce types, which are tomato, vinegar, or mustard based, are served on the side.  Yinzburgh is primarily take-out, but does have a few places to sit.  Sides include collard greens, black-eyed peas with spinach, mac and cheese, and coleslaw.

Yinzburgh BBQ, 4903 Baum Boulevard, 15213. 412-621-YINZ (9469).  Open 11:30 to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Union Pig and Chicken, 220 N. Highland Avenue, 15206.  412-363-PORK (7675).  5 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Saturday, with lunch service beginning soon.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Jessica Keyser; Richard Coursey

Thai Spoon, first Thai restaurant in the South Hills, opens in Dormont

The South Hills’ dining options have just grown more diverse, with Thai Spoon recently opening on Potomac Avenue in Dormont. The small, 12-table BYOB is open six days a week, for lunch and dinner.

Chef and owner June Jirachertchoowong, until recently part-owner of Thai Cuisine in Bloomfield, says many regulars of her former restaurant asked for a second location in the South Hills area, and when the Potomac Avenue storefront presented itself, she seized the opportunity to branch out.

While she had looked at many locations, she chose the Dormont site because of its heavy pedestrian and vehicular traffic, as well its close proximity to popular neighborhood destinations like the Dor-Stop Restaurant and Potomac Bakery.

Thai Spoon’s menu is very similar to Thai Cuisine, with the main differences being a higher emphasis on herbs, and an increase in the amount of spicy offerings. One of the house specialties, The Volcano, features baby-back ribs marinated in a homemade Thai chili paste, which Jirachertchoowong warns is extremely spicy.

The restaurant offers many vegetarian and vegan options, including mock duck and scallops made of wheat, tofu, and plenty of vegetable oriented dishes.

Jirachertchoowong’s older brother and sister, Chai and Lisa, own Thai Cuisine is Bloomfield. While their restaurant is under renovation, her family has been assisting her in the evenings during these opening weeks in Dormont. Pending inspections, their restaurant is scheduled to re-open on March 9th.

Thai Spoon is open Tuesday to Friday, 11:30 to 2:30 p.m. for lunch, from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. for dinner; Saturday, noon till 9:30 p.m; Sunday, 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Thai Spoon, 1409 Potomac Avenue, Dormont, 15216. 412-563-1409.

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: June Jirachertchoowong

URA receives $20 million in new market tax credits, big boost to economic development

The Urban Redevelopment Authority has been awarded $20 million in New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) by the U.S. Treasury Department.  The tax credit program aims to aid economic development, community revitalization, and job creation, by stimulating private investment in low-income communities.

Previous tax credit programs in Pittsburgh have helped to finance several prominent developments, including Bakery Square, Target, and Market Square Place.  And more than 2,500 full- and part-time jobs have been created through URA projects funded with NMTC.

Robert Rubinstein, the URA’s director of economic development, says projects like these often won't happen without those tax credits, which enable developers to close critical financing gaps in their respective projects.

Rubinstein says this current allocation is important because all of the funds will stay in Pittsburgh, and will help finance local projects.

Pittsburgh Urban Initiatives LLC (PUI), a URA-sponsored community development entity, decides which projects receive NMTC funding, based on a strict set of criteria.

Last year, the URA was allocated $35 million in NMTC, part of which were deployed in the 201 Stanwix Street project, a conversion of the former Downtown Verizon building into a charter school and apartments.  

In East Liberty, the East End Cooperative Ministries is expected to receive $15 million in credits for their proposed Community House development.

Rubinstein says NMTC has proven to be an important tool for the URA to advance community development projects throughout the city, and credits Mayor Ravenstahl, Senator Casey, and the congressional delegation for bringing these funds to Pittsburgh.

“It’s great that we've been able to receive a direct allocation ourselves, that allow us more control over helping to advance projects,” he says.  “In these times of declining local resources, declining state resources, we're fortunate we have the leadership that's helped us bring in these federal resources to help keep the momentum going here.”

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source:  Robert Rubinstein

Village Theater Company close to establishing a two-screen theater in Sewickley

The Village Theater Company, a non-profit group, has been working for 8 months to bring a two-screen theater to Sewickley, and it appears that they have already found their space.

The former Ascot Motors site, which is located in the heart of Sewickley, has been unused for several years.  Forbes Trail Development company has recently purchased the site, and is considering a mixed-use project that could include the Village Theater' Company’s (VTC) vision for a two-screen movie theater, as well as a Class-A office building, and a residential component.

Kirsten Stripay, president of the VTC, says this amenity will benefit Sewickley residents, and members of surrounding communities.   The borough has been without a theater for the past 30 years, following the closure of its original movie-house.

In a statement, Forbes Trail president Peter Friday said this opportunity will transform an abandoned eyesore into a mixed-use project that will "enhance our community’s quality of life.”  Friday serves on the Campaign Committee of the VTC.

The theater will be a two-screen, first-run independent movie theater.  According to Stripay, Pittsburgh Filmmakers is interested in running and programming the theater.

VTC and Forbes trail have begun collaborating with Sewickley Borough on a public-private partnership to address infrastructure improvements, as well as planning and financing for the project. Preliminary plans already call for site preparation for the development to begin in the second quarter of 2012.

VTC has begun fundraising, with a goal of $3 million.

Stripay says a cultural hub like the theater will encourage residents to support Downtown Sewickley, and will give a boost to retail and restaurants in the area.

This comes on the heels of a recent renaissance in Sewickley, whose downtown has seen 11 new businesses open in the past year, and 7 more soon to follow.

“I don’t know that this movie thereat would have happened without the effort put into [Sewickley] in the last two years,” Stripay says.  “This is the right time, and Sewickley is on a great roll now.”

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Kirsten Stripay

Restaurants increasingly rely on Kickstarter (you), not banks, for financing

Thanks to websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, a handful of businesses in the region are looking not at banks or private investors for financing, but directly to their customers. 

Crowdfunding websites like these allow the general public to fund creative projects, with contributions ranging from $10 to several thousand.  Typical projects include film production, journalism, art installations, even the development of solar technology; or, as the trend has become in Pittsburgh, to fund restaurant projects.

E2 will be one of the latest restaurants to do so when they launch their campaign in March.  The small Highland Park eatery is ready to expand in their current location, and as Lauren Urbschat says, this model is preferred over bringing in private investors. 

“This allows the business owner to keep all the integrity of the business that they want to run,” says Urbschat, who is leading E2’s campaign.  “You propose the project and then people fund it or they don't… it lets you keep that creative control.”

An early adopter of Kickstarter in Pittsburgh was Legume.  When that restaurant moved to North Oakland last summer, they financed much of their new building's renovations through traditional means.  But when it came to building Chef Trevett Hooper's dream kitchen, he asked his followers for their support.

Legume's raised over $17,000, more than double the restaurant's original goal.  But those who funded the project didn't walk away empty handed and were rewarded with cooking lessons, dinner for two, recipe cards, and so on.

When Wild Purveyors launched their fundraising campaign to develop their new storefront location, it developed rewards that are similar to community supported agriculture programs.  Most supporters were given store credit for their cash donation, to be redeemed when the new shop opens.  Seven supporters even gave as much as $1,000, with rewards of $1,200 in store credit.

The Big Idea Bookstore, in Bloomfield, relocated to a prominent Liberty Avenue storefront last year.  They would still like to add a cafe, and launched an IndioGoGo campaign to help pay for it.

And in the Strip District, Bar Marco is hoping to raise enough funds to build to build “the most beautiful courtyard Pittsburghers have ever dined in.” 

Bobby Fry, a co-owner of Bar Marco, says that although it will be part of his business, the courtyard is intended to be enjoyed by others, and will have a public benefit beyond his own restaurant.

Writer:  Andrew Moore

Green building open house today in Larimer

Craig Marcus relocated his furniture and woodworking business to Larimer in 2005.  Recently, he invested in a large warehouse structure, a development that has become the new offices of Grow Pittsburgh and G-TECH.  Now, he’s hoping the momentum of surrounding neighborhoods can help transform Larimer’s Hamilton Avenue into a vibrant commercial corridor.

A founding member of the Larimer Green Team, Marcus helped with the creation of  Larimer Vision Plan.  That plan largely focused on Larimer Avenue, an important thoroughfare and gateway to East Liberty.

But Hamilton Avenue, which has long been an auto-parts manufacturing and retail district, has received less attention.  Marcus describes the area as a “mini Strip District,” full of underused or vacant industrial buildings, which could be repurposed  for diverse uses.

And Marcus isn’t alone in the belief.  Four years ago, Absolute Ballroom transformed their current space by  adding an entire wall of windows facing the avenue; Sweet Tammy’s Bakery relocated here from Squirrel Hill; and East End Brewery is renovating a space on nearby Frankstown Road, with plans to open this summer.

Marcus is encouraged by these developments, and believes the effort to revitalize all of Larimer can succeed.

“I’m looking forward to more people getting interested in Hamilton Avenue,” Marcus says.  “There's still a lot of buildings that are entirely vacant where there's some great opportunity.”

For his own building renovations, Marcus and architect Laura Nettleton believed it was important to add windows facing the street, to remove barriers and add connections between pedestrians and businesses.

Nettleton says they were able to make the former warehouse spaces energy efficient, while preserving unique characteristics such as steel columns, wood joist floors, and exterior masonry.  

An open house will be held this evening, at 6587 Hamilton Avenue, with tours of the remaining two spaces, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.  Refreshments will be served, as well as live music by Bill Deasy.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Craig Marcus; Laura Nettleton

PetSmart to open in East Liberty, first in city

PetSmart, the national pet-supply retail chain, is coming to fill a vacant storefront in East Liberty.  It’s been just under a year since Borders closed in the Eastside development, and the Mosites Co. says the specialty store should be open in the former bookseller’s location by June.

PetSmart will occupy only the lower level of the Borders’ space , or 14,000 sq. ft. of the former store’s original 24,000.

Steve Mosites says his company met PetSmart, which has over 1,200 pet stores in North America, at the International Council of Shopping Center conference last year in Las Vegas.   He says compared to other potential tenants, PetSmart made the best economic sense, and served a need in the community.

PetSmart connects with the daily shopping patterns of Whole Foods, Wine and Spirits, and the other needs in a neighborhood shopping center, Mosites says.

Mosites says his company is working with a variety of tenants and hopes to have the upper level of the former Borders spaces leased by the end of this year.  He adds that the success of the nearby Target opening has been great for the retail businesses in the area, and the Eastside development.

In addition to leasing the former Borders space, Mosites says his company is doing pre-leasing for a development that will occur on a parcel near Target, which will be the final four acres of the greater Eastside development.  For this site, Mosites plans to continue developing retail tenants, but could also include levels of office and apartment spaces.

A road will eventually be constructed within the Eastside development, connecting Penn Avenue and South Highland.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Steve Mosites

Portal to the Point Symposium brings design ideas to the public

Last year, five architecture and design teams from across the country were asked to re-imagine Point State Park’s Portal Bridge.  At next week’s Portal to the Point Symposium, those teams will publicly present their bold visions and design concepts for the entryway to this historic park.

Portal to the Point is an idea generation project facilitated by Pennsylvania Environmental Council, coordinated by SPRINGBOARD Design, and funded by the Colcom Foundation of Pittsburgh.

Paul Rosenblatt, of SPRINGBOARD Design, says that when the PA DCNR, which manages the park, announced plans to upgrade the bridge for ADA accessibility, the Colcom Foundation saw it as an opportunity to explore the space more holistically.  

The project asks designers to incorporate aspects of the site’s history, where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join to make the Ohio, into their designs.

At the symposium, each team will provide a brief presentation, followed by a roundtable discussion with all participants.  

And while this project is only at the idea phase, Rosenblatt says this process allows designers to be free of traditional constraints.

“I have a real belief that ideas are the most valuable social capital, and they have an incredible power when different people’s ideas come together,” he says.

Rosenblatt believes it is important for the urban landscape to be part of the public discourse in Pittsburgh.  He hopes the symposium will encourage people to think about the spaces that are  in between destinations as equally important in our experience of cities.

The Portal to the Point Symposium, on Saturday, February 25th, will be held at the Carnegie Museum of Art Lecture Hall, and is free and open to the public.  Presentations will be given from 9 a.m. to noon; the public workshop from 1 to 5 p.m.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Paul Rosenblatt

Marty's Market, a destination food store, to open in the Strip

Marty’s Market, a new specialty food market and café, will be open this spring in the Strip District.  Owner Regina Koetters says the market will be right-sized, sourcing products from farms and other producers within a 150-mile radius.

Koetters moved to Pittsburgh in 2008 to be a part of the region’s redevelopment, and because she was impressed by the city’s offerings.  It is in that vein that she hopes to create a community gathering place centered around food, and describes the market as a community minded business.  

“I didn't see any need to go beyond the community to get something going,” Koetters says.  “Instead, I wanted a business that celebrated what already exists in Pittsburgh's community, and furthered it in some way.”

Marty’s is located in the former Right By Nature space, but Koetters is quick to say customers should not expect a similar supermarket concept.  

“I’m certainly building on what was great about Right By Nature, but Mary's Market is quite different in concept and function,” she says.  

Marty’s will only occupy 2/3 of the former tenant’s space.  In addition to specialty foods, the market will stock pantry staples, like flour, sugar, and salt.

None of the produce at Marty’s will have been treated with chemicals or pesticides, nor any meat with hormones or antibiotics.  Koetters wants customers to enter the market and not have to worry about those issues, and to know that the products here are of high quality.

“It allows the [customer] to focus on the product, the flavor, the freshness, and what they want to do in their kitchen, as opposed to reading labels the entire time they're in the store,” she says.

In the coffeehouse and café section of the shop, well-known chefs and amateur cooks will be held in equal esteem.  Koetters hopes to develop a menu and product selection that will celebrate Pittsburgh’s diverse communities, while bringing people together around food.

Koetters is currently searching for an executive chef to run the café at Marty’s Market.

“I think I'm building a really cool playground for someone who knows how to do stuff with food,” she says. “I’d love that person to show up and just have a great time, and unlock the potential that I’m creating here.”

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Regina Koetters

Landmarks Housing Resource Center to host green building workshop, Saturday

If you've ever wondered what it really means to "build green,” a workshop this weekend will seek to answer that question and more.  The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation is partnering with Artemis Environmental to explore green building definitions, and will be offering demonstrations for do-it-yourselfers as part of the event.

Ian Miller, of Artemis, says many factors, including material types, travel distances, and emissions, can distinguish a building  as green or not.  At the workshop, Miller will focus on two aspects of green design: flooring and wall finishes.

Attendees will learn about flooring made of cork, bamboo, locally-timbered wood, and a marmoreal.  Miller says none of these products require advanced technical know-how, and he will demonstrate to home-owners how to prepare and install each item.

Artemis Environmental started in 2005 as a green building products supplier, but is now adding design and installation service to the company’s offerings.

Janice Webb Donatelli, Artemis' founder, says although green building has grown in popularity, many of the techniques employed aren’t actually new.

“Being green is reconnecting to the past,” she says, and points to American Clay as an example.  That company offers a line of wall finishes, made from mud and natural pigments, which belongs to a centuries-old tradition.

And Donatelli says this clay-based finish is not just healthy for the environment, but is also good for the body and wellness.  The clay acts as an ion neutralizer and is porous, allowing walls to breathe and improving indoor air quality.

Karamagi Rujumba, of the PHLF, says historic preservation is a fundamental aspect of green building.  Saturday’s event seeks to demonstrate that innovations in green building can be applied to older structures, as well as new.

The free workshop is part of an ongoing series, located in the Landmarks Housing Resource Center, in Wilkinsburg.  To RSVP, contact Mary Lu Denny at 412-471-5808.  744 Rebecca Ave, Wilkinsburg, PA 15222.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Karamagi Rujumba; Ian Miller, Janice Webb Donatelli

Kevin Sousa's Station Street Hot Dogs East Liberty

A sign at Station Street Hot Dogs boasts service since 1915.  Although it had close for a while, the shop has reopened, and looks exactly the same on the inside--same counters and stools, still serving hot dogs and fresh-cut fries. The main, critical difference though is that this time it’s a project of local chef Kevin Sousa.

At Station Street, Sousa is offering a basic hot dog, a vegan dog, and a host of other types: the New York Dog, with just sauerkraut and mustard; the Hawaii Dog, with pineapple salsa, bacon, sweet soy and mint; even a Banh Mi dog, with pork liver, pickled vegetables, and the standard toppings of this Vietnamese favorite.

Kimchi for the Korean dog is made in-house, as are most other toppings, including sweetbreads and smoked brisket.

As the sign says, Station Street originally opened in 1915, and moved to its current location in 1969.  But the shop was closed for several decades until 2006, when Bob and Ruth Tortorete reopened and renovated the space.

Sousa and his partners have made little changes to the interior or exterior.  The menu is written on a hanging chalkboard sign above the counter.  As a subtle sign of the changed culinary landscape, the standard pair of ketchup and mustard squeeze bottles is now joined by a bottle of spicy Sriracha.

Fresh-cut French fries come standard, $3, or fried in duck fat, which chef Mike Lefever says imparts the same flavor of duck confit onto the French fry.

Lefever will be the chef at the new Union Pig and Chicken, a second restaurant that Sousa is opening, also in East Liberty.  Union Pig and Chicken expects to be open and serving barbecue by the end of this month.

Station Street Hot Dogs, located at 6290 Broad Street, is open Monday though Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.  412-365-2121.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Mike Lefever

Oakland Portal project underway, 47-unit apartment building, office towers and hotel

Construction of the Oakland Portal project is underway, a development set to bring two apartment buildings, office towers, and a hotel to West Oakland.  The project is spearheaded by Lou W. Molnar, of L.W. Molnar & Associates, Inc.

The first four-story building, which will have views of the Monongahela River and the South Side Slopes, will consist of 47 units, and is being built over a structured parking garage.  The building is scheduled to open in July, with the second structure to be under construction by the end of this year.

The 1-and-2-bedroom apartments will be offered at $1,300 to $1,800 a month.  Skip Molnar, of L.W. Molnar & Associates, says the 2-bedroom units are designed as suites, with separate bathrooms and walk-in closets.  

As part of the construction, the sidewalk will be expanded, and will included a landscaped buffer between Fifth Avenue.  The buildings were designed by TKA Architects, and the contractor is FranjoConstruction.  

The apartments are located on bus lines into Downtown, and along the study route for bus rapid transit.

In the coming weeks, plans for the second phase of the project will go before neighborhood organizations and the City of Pittsburgh.  Molnar says his company is proposing three office towers, with one to include a hotel, for a site located across Fifth Avenue.

Included in those plans are suggestions for widened sidewalks, landscaping, and bicycle infrastructure along Fifth Avenue.

The entire project is scaled back from an earlier project proposed for this site by a different developer in 2005.

Because of an agreement between the previous landowner and Lamar Advertising Company, a permanent easement exists on the property for two billboards.  However, Molnar says designs were able to incorporate the existing billboard wall to build a secure, indoor bicycle storage facility for the building’s tenants.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Skip Molnar

Pittsburgh has more bridges than any other city, adds Eastside Pedestrian Bridge to the list

Pittsburgh can claim more bridges than any other city in the world, and will now add one more elevated span to the list.  The Eastside Pedestrian Bridge, a project of the URA, opened last week, connecting the Ellsworth shopping district with the Eastside development in East Liberty.

East Liberty Development, Inc. (ELDI) initiated the effort to build this structure, which is equal parts functional amenity and public art.

Skip Schwab, ELDI director of operations, says that while undertaking a community outreach and planning process, residents expressed a desire to have better connections between East Liberty and Shadyside.

The community wanted the new bridge design to be more open, and to have a safer feeling than the existing structures which cross the busway, Schwab says.

And in order to finance the planning and engineering of the bridge, ELDI raised funds from the private sector, including numerous foundations and individuals, to supplement the project’s budget.

Artist Shelia Klein designed the artistic elements of the bridge.  Thousands of glass sequins adorn the structure, and were made at the Pittsburgh Glass Center in the nearby Friendship.  Railings for the bridge were salvaged from the 31st Street Bridge, and restored by Keystone Metals in Larimer. 

Schwab says the bridge is part of a broader effort to repair pedestrian infrastructure lost during urban renewal of the 1960s.

“Everything that we're trying to do is to not only just rebuild the connections, but to do it in a way that is much more pedestrian friendly and accessible,” Schwab says.

The total project cost was $1.5 million, and included street lighting and sidewalk improvements in Shadyside, and was designed by SAI Consulting Engineers.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Skip Schwab, ELDI
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