An artist's rendering of the proposed First National Bank tower, presented by developer Buccini/Pollin Group to the Pittsburgh City Planning Commission at a meeting on April 20, 2021.

Develop PGH Bulletins: Penguins’ Hill District development plan gets City Planning Commission’s ear

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 4/20/21: Could a billion-dollar development stall on a long-gone stretch of street? The future of Wylie Avenue emerged as the biggest speed bump in the Penguins’ drive to begin Lower Hill District redevelopment, as the hockey team’s chosen developers briefed the City Planning Commission for the first time. The meeting marks an important step in the Penguins’ effort to remake the 28 acres formerly occupied by the Civic Arena and its parking lots into a $1 billion complex of offices, residences, stores and entertainment venues.

The family of Jasmine Devine (third from left) including daughters (from left) Jah'Niya, Erionna and Nylah, plus Mary Hester (rear) of LifeVenture Real Estate Services, and Brettney Duck (far right) of Catapult Greater Pittsburgh, walk through Enright Court on March 30, 2021. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

An East Liberty enclave faces change, but this time residents can set down roots

The Devines are only moving one block. But for Jasmine and her three daughters, the impending relocation within a little square called Enright Court is a big jump, and not just because they’ll have a fourth bedroom, plus a bigger yard. They’ll finally own a townhouse, rather than renting. With that, they’ll be gaining some control over their destinies in East Liberty, a neighborhood where demolitions and rising rents have torn many families out by the roots. “I’m building a legacy for them,” said Devine, 32, as she stood in her current driveway with her eldest daughter, Jah’Niya, 13.

A map showing the area in which October Development is seeking to take on conservatorship of 97 properties, taken from the company's petition filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

March 2021 Develop PGH Bulletins: ‘Hostile takeover’ or ‘best practice’? Attorney explains massive North Side conservatorship bid

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 03/30/21: Attorney explains bid for conservatorship of 97 properties
A former City of Pittsburgh attorney who has filed an ambitious conservatorship petition said that it was driven by a developer’s desire to improve a neglected part of the North Side amid slow progress by a community group and government officials. Dan Friedson, who was an assistant city solicitor from 2014 through late 2019, filed a March 5 petition on behalf of East Allegheny-based October Development, seeking conservatorship over 97 properties in and around that neighborhood. Of the properties, 29 are owned by the city, two by the Urban Redevelopment Authority [URA], eight by the Community Association of Spring Garden and East Deutschtown [CASGED] and the rest by an assortment of individuals and apparent businesses or nonprofit entities.

Ebony Long, 35, of Perry North sits on the staircase of the rental house from which her landlord is trying to evict her. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

February 2021 Develop PGH Bulletins: Pittsburgh City Council votes to limit evictions, over landlord objections

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 2/24/21: New eviction rules in Pittsburgh clear first vote
Pittsburgh City Council took an initial step toward adding a new set of hurdles to eviction but will likely spend the coming days weighing possible amendments to further protect tenants. Council voted, without dissent, for legislation that would:

Largely bar any landlord action from evicting tenants, within the city, who are behind on rent due to loss of employment or medical expenses
Bar landlords from terminating tenants’ leases or refusing to renew them
Carve out exceptions if a tenant is engaged in criminal activity or presents an “imminent threat” to the health or safety of other residents, or violates building codes or health ordinances
Fine landlords as much as $10,000 for violations
Expire either when the city lifts its current disaster declaration or council terminates the protections. The vote came after lengthy discussion about proposed amendments that could:

Explicitly extend protections to tenants who are defendants in eviction cases that are already pending in court
More clearly bar evictions except for “good cause,” which would not include expirations of leases
Give the city Commission on Human Relations a role in enforcement.

Affordable for-sale housing at the front door of the mayoral election

Housing prices nearly quadrupled in Fineview over the decade ending in 2018, and there’s no reason to believe that’s reversed since, according to neighborhood advocate Joanna Deming. The plus side: The increases are a symptom of the North Side neighborhood’s desirability, said Deming, executive director of both the Fineview Citizens Council and the Perry Hilltop Citizens Council. The minus: “So we’re seeing those rents go up! …We want to make sure we protect our residents first.”

Deming spoke inside a freshly renovated, affordable rental house on Fineview’s Lanark Street, where the citizens council’s plans call for some 20 new or remodeled houses, all priced for modest incomes, and mostly for sale, rather than for rent. She is cobbling together funding packages including money from the state, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Allegheny County and private sources.

Skyline Terrace, a mixed-income housing complex, developed by the Housing Authority for the City of Pittsburgh. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

January 2021 Develop PGH Bulletins: New affordable housing, at a more affordable price?

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 1/28/21: Housing Authority bolsters synagogue rehab
Last month, the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh [HACP] pledged to be more aggressive and innovative in its efforts to spur affordable housing. At its first meeting of 2021, HACP’s board provided an early example by increasing its investment in the pending conversion of the former Congregation B’Nai Israel synagogue, in Garfield, into housing. The stately synagogue, on North Negley Avenue, was most recently an Urban League of Pittsburgh charter school, and is to be converted by a team of developers reportedly including Downtown-based Ralph A. Falbo Inc. and Boston-based Beacon Development.