Hill District

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

City and county officials, the Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis based-developer McCormack Baron Salazar announced Thursday the Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group will design the residential portion of the lower Hill development at the old Civic Arena site.

“Part of what we’re doing is going to be a mixed-income community, and there will be opportunities for lower-income individuals and families to live in the community, just like we did in Crawford Square,” said Richard Baron, chairman and CEO of McCormack Baron Salazar. “So the idea here is to be an inclusive development.”

Representatives from a variety of advocacy organizations celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act with a news conference Thursday on Freedom Corner in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.

While they celebrated, they spoke of efforts in recent years to rescind voters' rights, such as the defeated voter ID law and changes they want to see that would allow Pennsylvanians more voting flexibility.

The Hill Community Development Corporation is holding a State of The Hill District event on Saturday.

Marimba Milliones, president of the CDC, said this event will be an opportunity for members of the community to learn about recent developments in the Hill District.

Milliones will discuss the Centre Avenue Redevelopment Plan at the event. She says it’s a plan that “honors the cultural legacy of the Hill District but contextualizes it in the future and the market that we can expect today.”

On Tuesday, the city of Pittsburgh and the Port Authority of Allegheny County held the first of two public meetings to gather input on the proposed Forbes-Fifth Corridor.

About a hundred people attended the meeting to listen and share thoughts on the potential transportation infrastructure in the 5th/Forbes Corridor which links Downtown to Oakland, running through Uptown and part of the Hill District.

Flickr user Joseph A

“A child's zip code should never determine her destiny; but today, the community she grows up in impacts her odds of graduating high school, her health outcomes, and her lifetime economic opportunities.”

So reads the U.S. Department of Housing Urban Development’s web page on its Promise Zone program, which aims to counteract the effects of poverty.

Flickr user Peter Radunzel

The Pittsburgh Penguins and development firm Clayco are just six months away from the proposed groundbreaking for a 28 acre mixed use development in the Lower Hill. City Council on Tuesday approved a unique approach to tax abatement, which has been vital to getting the Hill community on board with the plan.

It’s been more than half a century since eight thousand Pittsburgh residents were displaced from their homes in the lower hill district, when 95 acres of a thriving, mostly African American community were razed to make way for the Civic Arena.

Pittsburgh City Council is planning a public hearing before they give the final stamp of approval to proposed tax abatements and exemptions for developers of the former Civic Arena site in the lower Hill District.

Councilman Daniel Lavelle, who has been instrumental in developing a plan for revitalization of the area, said developers will still be paying property taxes on the value of the land and related improvements.

Flickr user Joseph Novak

Redevelopment of Pittsburgh’s lower Hill District is one step closer to becoming a reality, with City Council on Wednesday giving preliminary approval to a bill designating the area as a Specially Planned District or SPD.

“It took a while to get here … and now we’ve got to actually begin building,” said Councilman Daniel Lavelle, who represents the Hill District.

Plans for the Civic Arena Site Taking Shape

Jan 22, 2015
Mr.T77 / Flickr

Negotiations between the city, the Penguins and the Hill District Community Development Corporation have resulted in plans to move forward with the development of the former Civic Arena Site. We’ll discover what could be next for the site with Hill District CDC President and CEO Marimba Milliones.

Ben Spiegel courtesy of the University of Pittburgh

George McCrary knows the Hill District well. As he drives the windy streets, he points out the places he remembers from his days working as one of the nation's first emergency medical technicians in the late '60s and early '70s.

It was on these streets where a young McCrary was a member of the Freedom House Enterprise Ambulance Service, which served as the model for emergency ambulance medicine.  

Pittsburgh City Councilman Daniel Lavelle is one step closer to delivering on a promise to constituents that affordable housing would be a key part of the revitalization of the Hill District.

The Planning Commission on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of a proposed change to city code governing specially planned districts, or SP districts.

“Specially Planned Districts are those districts like Southside Works, Station Square … the Pittsburgh Technology Center, and Washington’s Landing,” said zoning administrator Corey Layman.

Flickr user Joseph Novak

City Councilman Daniel Lavelle, who represents much of the Hill District, wants to make that the history of the area does not repeat itself.

In the mid-1950s, redevelopment of the Hill District and construction of the Civic Arena displaced 8,000 residents, most of whom were black and more than a third of whom ended up in public housing.

Now, that same area is slated for redevelopment by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Plans include housing, mixed-use retail, a hotel and an outdoor plaza.

In 1961 the Hill District was cut off from downtown with the building of the Civic Area, and with the demolition of the arena developers have been drawing up plans to hopefully reconnect the two.

The city has been granted $1.5 million to hire engineers to start drawing up plans to being bidding for the construction of a cap that will be installed over 579 between downtown and the old Civic Area.

The Pittsburgh Penguins say they should be able to begin developing the 28 acres that once held the Civic Arena in the next six to nine months thanks to a deal that city leaders believe will positively impact the entire Hill District and Uptown.

As Deadline Looms, an Update on Civic Arena Site Development

Aug 7, 2014
AxsDeny / Flickr

The Pittsburgh Penguins won the rights to develop the 28-acre site of the now demolished Civic Arena in the 2007 deal to build the CONSOL Energy Center.

Under that agreement, the team was to draw down the first parcel by Oct. 31 or possibly lose the development rights. The Penguins are asking the city and county to push that deadline back a year.

Opposing this request is Pittsburgh City Councilman Daniel Lavelle, who represents the Hill District. Lavelle said the Penguins and Hill District leaders are still at odds over minority participation in the project. Another point of contention is the amount of affordable housing to be built on the site. Lavelle, however, does not believe delaying the deadline shows promise for both organizations.

“Unfortunately, this site sits in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in this entire country," he said. "This should be an opportunity to sort of rectify that and lift these individuals out of poverty, with the contracting and business opportunities that will exist on that site.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A large crowd gathered outside of the Shop n’ Save in the Hill District on ribbon cutting day Thursday; many of the people have waited a long time for a full-service grocery store in the neighborhood and now they have one.

“This is not something that’s been a day or a week in waiting, or even a month or a year, this is something that’s been decades in the making and it’s finally come to fruition,” said Michael Jasper, chairman of the Hill House Association Board.

Penguins Ready to Submit Arena Development Plan

Jul 8, 2013

Three years after the final event at the Civic Arena — a James Taylor/Carole King reunion concert — and 15 months after the demolition of the arena was completed, the Pittsburgh Penguins are nearly ready to submit their plan for reuse of that site.

The deal that kept the Penguins from leaving town included the building of a new facility, the Consol Energy Center, and the development rights for the 28 acres on which the old arena and parking lots sat.

Should vacant buildings in Homewood be renovated or demolished? How about other Pittsburgh neighborhoods with blight? Tim Stevens, CEO and chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project, has called for many of the buildings to be refurbished by workers enrolled in training programs rather than continuing with demolition.  They're now gathering community input on what to do with vacant buildings. C. Matthew Hawkins, adjunct faculty member in the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, recently wrote about the idea of a moratorium in Homewood and the Hill District.

What do you think of the potential moratorium on demolition in poor communities requested of Pittsburgh city council?

City Council News With Noah

May 20, 2013
90.5 WESA / 90.5 WESA

Legislation to change the powers of the Citizen Police Review Board is up for a final vote on Thursday.  Currently, the CPRB reviews new police policies after they are implemented, but the new legislation would alter this system resulting in the board reviewing  policies before they take effect. Sponsoring Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess, who originally wanted to publish an abridged version of the police rule book until it was found to be against state law, says he's hoping to use the CPRB as the "eyes and ears" of the public regarding police policies.