Devyn Kahler-Harms, 22, stands outside of the Baldwin Borough apartment at which he then resided, with his fiance, on June 2, 2020. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

A year in Allegheny County ends in homelessness for two young trans men

A statewide moratorium on new eviction filings for non-payment of rent, which was instituted in March in response to the pandemic, runs through July 10. Its impending end, amid continued economic uncertainty, has some advocates bracing to head off a potential flood of evictions. Evictions filed in Allegheny County prior to the moratorium — like one filed against Devyn for failure to pay rent in February — were frozen on March 16 but allowed to resume on June 2.

Lee Riccetti, a Philadelphia-based historic preservationist and project manager for Heritage Consulting Group, disputes the importance of a cluster of buildings, pictured, including the former Froggy’s bar, within Downtown’s Firstside Historic District, in a June 30, 2020 meeting of Pittsburgh’s City Planning Commission, held via Zoom.

Develop PGH Bulletins: Commission weighs demolition of Froggy’s building

Develop PGH Bulletins will update you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please bookmark, check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 06/30/2020: Drive to demolish — or save — Froggy’s building goes into overtime
The Downtown building that once housed Froggy’s bar can’t be saved, experts hired by the would-be redeveloper of the site told the City Planning Commission. After hearing hours of testimony from consultants for developer the Troiani Group, the commission put off deciding on the proposed demolition until July 14, at the earliest, so foes of the wrecking ball can be heard. Two weeks ago, several commissioners urged the development team to seek ways to preserve a cluster of squat structures on First Avenue and Market Street, including 104 and 106 Market, in the Firstside Historic District.

Offered a room at the Red Roof Inn if he moves immediately, Anthony Straughter of Valmar Gardens, in Penn Hills, wonders how he could accommodate his poodle mix, Joe. (Photo by Rich Lord/PublicSource)

Eviction on hold after Valmar Gardens residents ask for more time

Residents said they heard secondhand, on Thursday night, that they would be booted from the building. Around 9 a.m. on Friday, water service stopped. Around 10, Penn Hills police, sheriff’s deputies and other county officials arrived, along with Jason Greenwald, who said he was a representative of the new owners, BDCTC LLC.

Board Explorer: Understanding Pittsburgh’s unelected power structure

The Pittsburgh region is run in large part by more than 500 unelected board members of authorities, commissions and other governmental agencies. Board members usually don’t get headlines. Those go to the mayor, the county executive or, occasionally, council members, controllers and directors. But boards often decide what does and doesn’t get built, who gets contracts and grants, what rates and fees we pay for everything from bus rides to water, and more. Now, as the region copes with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the operations of those boards are likely to affect our lives and futures more than ever. Already, boards are switching gears from managing growth to addressing an economic emergency. It’s time we got to know them better.

Lindsay Powell, a member of the Urban Redevelopment Authority board and key city hall staffer, is the lone twentysomething serving on the 16 local boards focused on development. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource0

99 people who will help shape the Pittsburgh region’s recovery

It will take more than a mayor and a county executive to get the Pittsburgh region’s economy off the floor. It will take the work of 99 people on 16 development-related boards and commissions, and among them is 29-year-old Brooklyn native Lindsay Powell. "This pandemic is obviously incredibly frightening,” said Powell, now a Bloomfield resident and member of the Urban Redevelopment Authority board. “But I think it also presents government with a chance to be more innovative as we move forward with rebuilding." Her seat on the URA’s five-member governing panel is one of 102 posts on 16 boards and commissions that PublicSource has examined in recent months.

Lower Hill District parking lots, north of PPG Paints Arena. "The Penguins are needed,” said URA board member Jodi Hirsh. “Otherwise we're staring at a parking lot for 10 years and a community that continues to be starved of resources." (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Penguins pledge ‘full commitment’ to Lower Hill’s rebirth after URA approval of developer and plan

Pittsburgh’s highest-profile development effort suddenly recovered Thursday after a week on life support, as the Urban Redevelopment Authority board voted 4-1 to approve the Penguins’ chosen development team and conceptual plan for a key piece of the Lower Hill District. The approval means the Penguins can continue working with developer Buccini/Pollin Group to design and build a 26-story tower anchored by First National Bank at the corner of Washington Place and Bedford Avenue. And Penguins’ Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kevin Acklin — who a week ago distributed a biting statement announcing the cessation of development operations — told the board that the project now has “the full commitment of our team.”

While the vote revives the project, it comes with considerable hand-wringing — and three conditions:

The development team and the bank have to continue to work toward providing $11 million — financed with part of the development’s future parking and property taxes —  immediately upon closing the deal, for use on redevelopment and affordable housing throughout the Hill District. The development team has to make its "best efforts" to negotiate a community impact plan consistent with prior commitments they have made to the neighborhood. Future URA votes on the Lower Hill redevelopment effort will be contingent on documented compliance with a 2014 Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan signed by representatives of the Penguins, City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and Hill District leaders.

A view of part of the former Civic Arena site, which was slated for redevelopment led by the Pittsburgh Penguins -- until the team announced Thursday that it was ceasing Lower Hill development. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Despite the Penguins’ decision to walk from Lower Hill, URA board will meet Thursday about development terms

Update (5/20/20): Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto urged the Urban Redevelopment Authority board to approve the Penguins' proposed developer and tentative plan to build an office tower in the Lower Hill District, in advance of a URA board vote scheduled for Thursday. He called the potential First National Bank office tower "an extraordinary $200 million investment in the heart of Pittsburgh that will help brace our local economy in a time of great need," which would also result in an $11 million investment in housing and development in the Hill District. Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority board is planning to move forward with a vote Thursday on proposed terms for construction of a Hill District office tower and parking garage by the Penguins, despite the hockey organization’s announcement yesterday that it is ceasing development operations on the former Civic Arena site. "We're moving forward to get this done in the coming days,” said city Chief of Staff Dan Gilman on Friday morning. “We believe this is a project that is still critical to get done and can and should be a win for the neighborhood, the city and the Penguins."