Riverlife

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Below a tangle of highways along the southern edge of Pittsburgh’s downtown is a truncated section of concrete. The Mon Wharf Landing may look as if it goes nowhere, some sort of multi-modal experiment that was never completed.

Until now. 

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Like being the first person to leave tracks after a snowfall, a stretch of brand new pavement can incite glee, regardless of age.

Point State Park at the Ohio
Jim Orsini / Flickr

Smokestacks and glowing furnaces, emblems of heavy industry, once dotted Pittsburgh’s river banks. In recent years, though, projects backed by public-private investment have turned to making the Steel City’s riversides havens for recreation and leisure.

Now, some redevelopment boosters hope a new tax credit will encourage financiers to invest more in waterfronts throughout Pennsylvania.  

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Police Zone 2 Commander Anna Kudrav rented awhile, then bought her own wheels. Riding a bicycle calms her, she said.

andrewwin / Flickr

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommends restoring 7.3 acres of ecosystem on Pittsburgh’s North Shore along the Ohio River. 

Officials with the corps and its nonprofit partner Riverlife began a study of the area last year in hopes of restoring degraded riverbanks and improving the depleted aquatic and floodplain habitat.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Oxford Development Company’s apartment project for the Strip District, The Yards at 3 Crossings, will have hundreds of people living about 100 feet from the south bank of the Allegheny River as early as this year. 

Riverlife formed in 1999 to plan and manage riverfront revitalization in post-industrial Pittsburgh. Its longtime leader, Lisa Shroeder stepped down in December, and Riverlife recently hired a new President and CEO, Vivien Li.

Li comes from the Boston Harbor Association, where she worked to restore access and vitality to that city’s waterfront. Keystone Crossroads’ Irina Zhorov spoke with Li about what she wants to accomplish in Pittsburgh. 

Li starts at Riverlife October 1, 2015.     

State Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) wants to encourage private investment in waterfront property by pushing for his proposed senate bill that would establish a Waterfront Development Tax Credit.

The senator said Pennsylvania’s greatest resources are the many lakes, rivers and creeks that hold a place in state and national history as well as provide recreational opportunities. However, areas along these resources need substantial investment to redevelop because of obstacles such as contamination and abandoned industrial sites.

wyliepoon / Flickr

  A $130 million investment by the city and its partners over 15 years has resulted in $4.1 billion in riverfront and adjacent development in Pittsburgh.

That’s according to Riverlife, a task force created in 1999 to encourage riverfront development in Pittsburgh, which released its economic impact report Friday.

Jay Sukernek – the acting director, vice president and chief financial officer – said they looked at the impact of the public amenities and the value of property since 2001.

Flickr user Ronald Woan

State Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) said when he was a kid, people often warned him not to get to close to Pittsburgh’s three rivers. But the polluted industrial riverfronts of generations past have slowly been replaced by family-friendly recreational opportunities and big-ticket development projects such as PNC Park and South Side Works.

After 15 years as President and CEO of Riverlife, a pro-riverfront development organization, Lisa Schroeder is leaving Pittsburgh.

“The rivers were, in many ways, the sewer of the region, as well as an industrial highway,” Schroeder said. “So it really took some deep digging philosophically to start looking at the riverfronts as the natural treasure.”

Joseph / Flickr

Riverlife recently announced the departure of President and CEO Lisa Schroeder. Before she leaves the Steel City we’ve invited her to Studio A for an exit interview about the recreation, economic and ecological aspects of Pittsburgh’s river fronts.

Blue Mind: How Water Improves Our Quality of Life

Nov 12, 2014
joseph a / Flickr

 Why is the sound and image of water so soothing to us? Why does being near water improve our wellbeing? And how can this understanding help us make better decisions about water conservation and urban design?

Author,

and neuroscientist, Wallace J. Nichols explores these questions and many more in his book “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science that Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.”

He’s coming to Pittsburgh to take part in the Inspire Speakers Series, in conjunction with Riverlife, a local organization that works on the development of Pittsburgh's riverfront park systems. Wallace J. Nichols joins us along with Stephan Bontrager, Director of Communications for Riverlife.

After a 12-year $35 million renovation effort, Point State Park has been named nationally as one of the “10 Great Public Spaces of 2014” by the American Planning Association.

Lisa Schroeder, President and CEO of Riverlife, says the restoration was much needed.