An artist's rendering of a 10-story apartment building proposed for Forbes Avenue, submitted by CA Ventures and Dwell Design Studies to the City Planning Commission on Jan. 26, 2021.

Develop PGH Bulletins: Proposed Oakland apartment building would need height bonus

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. 1/26/21: Transit, pedestrian considerations could justify taller building in Oakland
The impending Bus Rapid Transit [BRT] project linking Downtown and Oakland is a factor in plans to build around 300 new apartments in Central Oakland, the City Planning Commission learned in a briefing. Developer CA Ventures, of Chicago, wants to demolish a longstanding gas station on Forbes Avenue, between McKee Place and Semple Street. In its place, CA wants to build a 10-story building geared toward young professionals, medical workers and students, with built-in parking and a smattering of retail.

People walk along Johnston Avenue in Glen Hazel, near townhomes owned by an affiliate of the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

‘Throwing everything against the wall,’ Pittsburgh’s housing authority aims to dent lengthy waiting lists

As Pittsburgh households waiting for subsidized housing continue to outnumber those receiving such benefits, the agency charged with bridging that gap is dishing bonuses to landlords, floating subsidies to developers and more. “So we do have a crisis” in regard to affordable housing, Caster Binion, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh [HACP], said in a December interview with PublicSource. “Rents are going up. So we’re throwing everything against the wall.”

Binion leads an agency responsible for sheltering some 7,755 households, either in its own apartments or those paid through the Housing Choice Voucher program, known as Section 8. At the end of November, there were 11,828 households on the authority’s waiting lists.

Brandi Cox, left, and her mother Nancy Cox-Gilmore stand in front of Nancy's house on Huey Street in McKeesport. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

‘A big elephant in the room.’ A McKeesport mother’s months-long battle to save her house has her home for the holidays, with a deadline looming.

When Nancy Cox-Gilmore faced eviction, she made phone calls, talked with whoever would listen, and prayed. And when those prayers were answered, she shared her good fortune widely — until, over just a few months this year, her efforts nearly cost her everything. As snow fell gently on McKeesport this month, Nancy stood outside of her faintly leaning house on Huey Street, recalling the desperate winter of 1999. During the first week of that year, a district judge approved her eviction from a rental house on Jersey Street. As she awaited her March 2 appeal hearing, she had nowhere to take her children and foster kids.

Lower Hill District parking lots, north of PPG Paints Arena. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

December Develop PGH Bulletins: Allegheny County picks new officer to diversify contracting

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. 12/17/20: Allegheny County hires from within in bid to diversify contracting
Allegheny County has hired a new chief equity and inclusion officer, charged with increasing minority- and women-owned business participation in contracts, according to a press release from County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s office. Lisa Edmonds, a Pittsburgh resident, has been the acting director of the county’s Department of Equity and Inclusion since 2019, and before that served as its deputy director beginning in 2005. According to the release, she was chosen from among nearly 100 candidates for the job.

The Edgar Thomson Steel Works, photographed in January 2020. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

November Develop PGH Bulletins: Bid to frack on Edgar Thomson site goes to court

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.  
11/25/20: Edgar Thomson drilling fight moving to court
A New Mexico company’s bid to frack on U.S. Steel’s land in North Versailles and East Pittsburgh is now in court following a Tuesday appeal filing. Merrion Oil & Gas spent millions preparing to drill on the Edgar Thomson Works site, and the East Pittsburgh Zoning Hearing Board has misinterpreted that borough’s code, according to the company’s Notice of Land Use Appeal filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. The timeline: In December 2017, East Pittsburgh council voted to approve Merrion’s zoning application to conduct drilling-related activities on a sliver of the borough’s land.

A rendering of the proposed Uptown Tech building, slated for the corner of Jumonville Street and the Boulevard of the Allies, presented to Pittsburgh's City Planning Commission on Sept. 29, 2020.

October Develop PGH Bulletins: Uptown Tech proposal gets commission’s OK

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. 10/27/20: Talks on the Hill lead to approval of tech plan
Citing last-minute negotiations between a developer and the Hill Community Development Corp., the City Planning Commission approved the conversion of an abandoned industrial laundry facility into tech and office space. The Uptown Tech project, on Jumonville Street and the Boulevard of the Allies, didn’t get a vote from the commission four weeks ago, after the Hill CDC complained that developer Westrise Capital had not addressed community concerns. This time, attorney Robert Lampl, representing Westrise, said minority- and women-owned business participation in the building conversion would amount to 27% to 42% of the project.

Brothers Michael (left) and Nicholas (right) Troiani in one of their buildings in Downtown Pittsburgh's Firstside district. They say deteriorating brick makes it impossible to save the structures. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

A tale of two districts: In Strip and Firstside, the Peduto administration cheers some development, stops other plans

From the surging center of the Strip District to the crumbling flank of Downtown’s Firstside Historic District, it’s 2.1 miles by car. But those places seemed like different cities this week. In the Strip on Monday, Mayor Bill Peduto joined developer Jack Benoff in a sunny parking lot next to an active construction site for the groundbreaking of the Forte Condos project. Though nary a brick has been laid, half of the planned 50 market-rate homes are already sold, Peduto said. “Even during COVID, we’re staying busy.

A rendering of the proposed Uptown Tech building, slated for the corner of Jumonville Street and the Boulevard of the Allies, presented to Pittsburgh's City Planning Commission on Sept. 29, 2020.

September Develop PGH Bulletins: City planners weigh their role in pushing minority business inclusion

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. 9/29/20: Planners delay Uptown rehab project, citing Hill group’s concerns
A proposal to convert an abandoned industrial laundry facility in Uptown into technology space failed to win the Pittsburgh City Planning Commission’s approval, after the Hill Community Development Corporation [CDC] said that the developers did not detail plans to use minority- and women-owned businesses. The commission said that developer Westrise Capital can come back before it Oct. 13, and encouraged negotiation between that firm and the Hill CDC.

Police in Penn Hills enter the last occupied building in Valmar Gardens, asking residents to leave, on June 19, 2020. The residents were eventually given more time to prepare to move. Some advocates fear that large-scale displacement will follow the expiration, after July 10, of a statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. (Photo by Rich Lord/PublicSource)

Eviction Day: Between the state moratorium and the CDC order, landlords file flurry of cases

Update (9/4/20): Allegheny County President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark issued an order instructing district judges on the handling of eviction filings in the wake of an order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If a landlord attempts to file an eviction against a tenant who has declared that he or she falls under the income limits and income loss guidelines in the CDC order, the judge may hold an initial status conference to “give the parties an opportunity to also consider available rental assistance,” according to Clark’s order. Other than that, the judge is instructed to stay the case until the expiration of the CDC order, set for Dec. 31. In such cases, judges are not to issue writs or orders of possession — which tell the tenant to get out or be removed by a sheriff — until after the CDC order expires.