As the demolition of the Shady Hill Plaza — once anchored by Giant Eagle — nears completion, the site’s designers presented the City Planning Commission with detailed plans for a residential-commercial project.
In 2019, Giant Eagle’s real estate company ECHO Realty announced plans to demolish the grocery store on Shakespeare Street along with the rest of the buildings on the lot on Penn and Shady avenues. The company revised design plans after meeting with several community organizations including the Shadyside Action Coalition. On Tuesday Tom Price, a principal architect with the design company Strada, presented the commission with plans calling for a 231-unit residential building along with retail space and a Market District store.
“This has been a long process, going back to 2018,” Price said. “And community engagement has made this a better project.”
Price noted that the surrounding communities responded to the plans with concern about the loss of a pharmacy and a grocery store. ECHO Realty addressed those concerns with a mobile market after the Giant Eagle closed on July 23 and a temporary pharmacy in the area.
ECHO Realty presented the original plans to the Zoning Board of Adjustment in 2020 but the application for a height variance was denied early last year. The company appealed the denial last year in court, leading to a consent agreement that included reserving 15% of the apartments for affordable housing.
The affordable housing agreement requires that 10% of the units be set aside for families making 50% or below the area median income. Another 5% must be set aside for families that make no more than 80% of the area’s median income. The mandate will be in place for 35 years. The agreement does not indicate what will happen after that.
Commissioner Dina Blackwell said she was “happy to hear that there’s an affordable housing piece.”
Tuesday’s meeting allowed the commissioners to view details on the project and ask Price for more information.
“There’s a lot of really good things in here that were discussed at length with multiple agencies and entities to get here,” Price said, adding that demolition on the site had already started and would be completed “relatively soon.”
Price presented the revised plans, which include a 17,000 square foot “parklet” on one side to provide green space. He noted that the new plans also call for a reduction from 600 parking spots to a 420-space parking garage. He said the current design represents a “continuance of the surrounding area” instead of the original site’s “sea of surface parking lot.”
Commissioner Rachel O’Neill also thanked Price for the detailed presentation but asked for more information at the next meeting about some of the building materials. Commissioner Becky Mingo asked for more information about the windows that will be used in the residential building and wanted to know how the bike lanes will be set up in the area.
ECHO Realty is expected to seek commission approval in two weeks, when the public will be allowed to comment on the project.
Eric Jankiewicz is PublicSource’s economic development reporter, and can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ericjankiewicz.
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