The Urban Redevelopment Authority has given a Hazelwood grassroots coalition temporary control over key lots on that neighborhood’s Second Avenue to allow the group to study whether it’s feasible to develop a commercial building there.

The URA will issue a letter confirming that it is holding 11 parcels on the southwestern side of the 4800 block of Second for the Greater Hazelwood Coalition Against Racial and Ethnic Disparities [GH-CARED]. The group wants to develop a 40,000-square-foot, two-story building with a grocery store on the first floor. It has estimated the cost at $13 million.

The issuance of the letter allows GH-CARED to study the feasibility of its plan. The URA board would then make a later decision on whether to transfer the property to GH-CARED.

The URA board did not need to vote on whether to issue the letter but received a staff briefing on the process at its monthly meeting.

Lutual Love, pastor of Praise Temple Deliverance Church and a GH-CARED member, thanked the URA for its support. “I guess that we’re moving on to generate feasibility,” he said.

A map of the 4800 block of Second Avenue in Hazelwood, provided by Urban Redevelopment Authority staff to the URA board on Nov. 16, 2021, showing the site on which the Greater Hazelwood Coalition Against Racial and Ethnic Disparities would like to build a commercial structure, potentially including a grocery store.

In an unusually short meeting that lasted just half an hour, the URA board also:

  • Heard a briefing on the pending issuance, next week, of a request for proposals for $4.5 million in available financing for affordable rental housing
  • Got its first look at a planned new Avenues of Hope facade grant program, which will provide as much as $12,000 to property owners or business owners who want to improve buildings along seven commercial corridors in mostly-Black neighborhoods, if the board approves the guidelines next month
  • Voted to allow staff to negotiate with R. Kyndall Development Group and Fulani Development Group, who want to buy publicly owned lots on the 600 block of East Ohio Street in East Allegheny, in pursuit of a $4.9 million, three-building retail and commercial development
  • Voted to allow negotiations with Epic Development for the purchase of publicly owned lots on Miltenberger Street in Uptown, in hopes of a $400,000 retail and apartment development including space for food trucks
  • Approved a $520,000 contract with Michael Baker International to manage work, due to start in April, to convert more of East Liberty’s Penn Circle to two-way traffic.

Penn Circle was constructed in the 1960s in what is now widely seen as a misguided attempt at urban redevelopment. The city has already restored two-way traffic on some portions of the looping road.

“Somehow we’ve been talking about two-way conversion of Penn Circle in East Liberty for what feels like seven decades,” said Sam Williamson, chair of the URA board.

Rich Lord is PublicSource’s economic development reporter. He can be reached at rich@publicsource.org or on Twitter @richelord.

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Rich is a reporter and assistant editor at PublicSource. He joined the team in 2020. He reported for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from 2005 through early 2020, leading projects on child poverty, the opioid...