Develop PGH Bulletins: Penguins’ developers can buy Hill land, start building tower

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy. Check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 6/10/21: URA board approves sale of land despite concerns over price, community benefits
The Penguins’ development team can buy 2.5 acres of Lower Hill District land for $10, build an office tower and begin to finance development in the Middle Hill and Upper Hill, following a vote by the Urban Redevelopment Authority board. The URA board’s series of 4-0 votes, at a special meeting, clears the way for the start of construction on the former Civic Arena site, which has been the subject of intense public debate since 2007. The vote followed assurances of progress in negotiations between the development team and the Hill Community Development Corp.

Episode 11, Season 2: Leading with generosity — A conversation with a local jeweler about his career and culture of giving.

Anthony Mock, owner of a Monroeville-based jewelry business, and employee Terri Hogan-Williams talk about the importance of relationships at work following the pandemic. Mock also lifts the curtain on how doing what you love matters and on his journey into the custom-made jewelry business. Jourdan: Welcome back. We are here with another episode of “From the Source” with another interesting source, another Pittsburgher, in this case, two people you should know. Their names are Terri and Anthony, and they are boss and employee.

Members of the Urban Redevelopment Authority board, URA staff and members of the Buccini/Pollin Group development team discuss proposals for an office tower on the Lower Hill District, as they view an artists rendering during a May 26, 2021 board briefing conducted by Zoom. (Screenshot)

May 2021 Develop PGH Bulletins: Majority of developer-heavy committee supports transfer of Hill land to Penguins’ team

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy. Check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 5/26/21: URA hears views of panel on FNB Tower, amid concern over conflicts
Most members of an oversight committee now support the Penguins’ plans to build on the former Civic Arena site, but some Hill District voices questioned the impartiality of that panel in public comments made at an Urban Redevelopment Authority [URA] board briefing. The Penguins and their chosen developer, Buccini/Pollin Group [BPG], want the URA and the Sports & Exhibition Authority boards to vote, on June 10, to transfer to them ownership of around 2.5 acres of Hill District land for a 26-story office tower and community open space. In Wednesday’s non-voting meeting, the URA board heard from several members of the Executive Management Committee [EMC].

Mary Ellen Barber said she has been searching for a suitable apartment in the North Hills, for which the landlord would accept a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher as partial payment, but hasn't been able to find one. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

April 2021 Develop PGH Bulletins: Housing authorities get help for families hoping to move out of impoverished areas

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other agencies. Check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 4/30/21: Low-income families to get help finding rentals in well-off neighborhoods
The region's two largest public housing authorities have won nearly $4.1 million in federal funds to help families with housing choice (Section 8) vouchers to move to neighborhoods with lower levels of poverty and more opportunity. The Allegheny County Housing Authority and the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh will share $4,089,540 and also get a total of 74 additional vouchers, each of which allows a low-income household to rent housing and pay the landlord 30% of their income, with the government covering the rest. Leaders of the authorities said in September that they wanted to use federal funding to recruit new landlords to their voucher programs, ease the apartment hunting and moving processes for families with children, and cover counseling and other measures to help those families to get acclimated to new neighborhoods.

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.

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.

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.