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SomeraRoad proposes new 251-unit building Reporter at SouthSide Works South Side Inside This Week’s South • Pittsburgh
By Margaret L. Smykla Contributing Writer A brief presentation on a proposed riverfront, highend, seven-story, 251-unit residential apartment building kicked off the March 9 See Page 4 meeting of the South Strip District Zoom Side Planning Forum. Revolutionary AmerThe project location is on icans took a great leap S. Water St. at Coal Place. of faith by establishing a The nearly two-acre site is new government based currently vacant land. on the sovereignty of the The apartments would inpeople. Since that revolu- clude a mix of studio, 1-2 tion, generations of Amer- bedroom apartments for rent. icans have been on a quest If approved, the target to form “a more perfect construction start is the union.” fourth quarter of 2021, with See Page 3 tenants 24 months later, said Pittsburgh Andrew Donchez, a princiOne year after the start pal at SomeraRoad, the new of the COVID-19 pan- owner of SouthSide Works. demic, the City of PittsMr. Donchez said the burgh Department of company is working on imParks & Recreation has provements to all of the pubreached a significant mile- lic amenities at SouthSide stone with the distribu- Works. tion of a half-million free Recently, SomeraRoad’s meals to eligible children proposal to convert Southand seniors. Side Works Cinema into @ sopghreporter.com 75,000-square-feet office space called the SouthSide Allegheny Works Box Office with County 300 to 400 employees was A l l e g h e n y C o u n t y approved by the Planning Council has extended the Commission. discounted real estate tax On March 21, Somerdeadline by 30 days. Pay- aRoad’s renovation of the ments received or post- Town Square at SouthSide marked by April 30, will Works, 445 S. 27th St. with be eligible to receive a 2% enhanced connections to the discount from the gross riverfront and trails, a dog amount due. park, new stage, and more, @ sopghreporter.com will go before the Planning Commission. Classifieds................... Page 2 The proposed apartment Housing Court.............. Page 2 building project includes Or check them out at: improvements to the public spaces in front of the buildwww.sopghreporter.com ing as well as the adjacent Two Orthodox Christian churches in South Side will use icons from the Wrestling With Angels museum exhibition in a local procession.
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promenade and connections to Riverfront Park and the Heritage Trail. The building will include tenant amenities like a rooftop terrace with pool, fitness center, community lounge, and co-working space. An attendee said while it is allowed by zoning, the project is not very “respectful” of the low-lying community. The proposal will next be presented in a Development Activities Meeting (DAM) to the South Side Community Council (SSCC) on March 25. A DAM provides an opportunity for citizens, property owners, business owners, and stakeholders to learn about the proposals that affect them and to resolve concerns at an early stage of the application process. Anyone interested in attending the Zoom DAM should go to this link the day before the meeting to access the Zoom link: https://pittsburghpa.gov/dcp/dev-activities-meeting. Next, in the South Side Parking Enhancement District (PED) update, city nighttime economy coordinator Allison Harnden reported income passed $2,000 this past weekend. The PED is the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. The funds must be invested back in the neighborhood for public safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure improvements. Continued on Page 2
The Urban Redevelopment Authority, acting on behalf of the Beltzhoover Consensus Group (BCG), has issued a Request for Proposals for the redevelopment of the former Beltzhoover School. The BCG purchased the building in 2017.
Consensus group seeking proposals to redevelop the Beltzhoover School The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) on behalf of the Beltzhoover Consensus Group (BCG) for the redevelopment of the former Beltzhoover Elementary School. The school is at 320 Cedarhurst Street in Beltzhoover and is zoned R2-H High Density Residential. The goal of this RFP is to secure a redevelopment partner to work with the community and develop housing and community space. The site is approximately 1.89 aces; the school is 60,000 square feet. The BCG is a local community organization that bought the school from Pittsburgh Public Schools. “The Beltzhoover Consensus Group proudly announces the release of an RFP by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, seeking developers interested in the
redevelopment of our be- into senior housing and comloved Beltzhoover Elemen- munity space will serve as tary School. Repurposing a catalyst to continued ecothis magnificent structure Continued on Page 3
Slopes association holds board members election By Margaret L. Smykla Contributing Writer Board elections highlighted the March 9 virtual Zoom general meeting of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA). It was the organization’s first general meeting of 2021. President Blake McLaren began the meeting detailing the ways to contact the organization: http://www.southsideslopes.org; firstname.lastname@example.org; or 412-3767373. The SSSNA can also be found on Facebook. He reported board members Candice Gonzalez and Donna Tarkett are stepping down. The new board nominee
was Jami Szalla. She and her husband, Dan, opened Hilltop Coffee on the corner of Eleanor and Arlington. Ms. Szalla was born and raised on the Slopes. The candidates who were then elected are: Mr. McLaren, Kristin Raup, Brad Palmisiano, and Ms. Szalla, There is one opening for a board position. Contact info@southsideslopes. org if you are interested in the board position or to serve on a committee. A person must have attended two meetings or events in the last year to be eligible to join the board. The meeting began with four guest speakers: Julie Continued on Page 4
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SomeraRoad proposes new 251-unit building at SouthSide Works Continued from Page 1 The PED revenue for February, 2021, totaled $7,239.67. City Councilman Bruce Kraus said all of the closures due to COVID-19 resulted in a $140,000 hit in PED funds in 2020. “Revenue is beginning to return,” he said. The trust fund balance is $351,259, but there is $41,000 in outstanding invoices. There is also $15,000 planned for lighting at Esser’s Plaza as a safety issue. In alcohol license changes, the Dough Bar is about to open at 1831 East Carson St. It is the former Steel Cactus site. Ms. Harnden also reported Block by Block, the Clean Team which maintains the E. Carson St. corridor and is paid by PED funds, is returning to a two-person crew the week of April 1. The crew has had one less worker from Jan. 13 through March 31, resulting in a sav-
ings of about $13,500. During February, 5,125 pounds of trash was removed. Five graffiti/stickers were also removed, and hospitality assistance was lent three times. Mr. Kraus reported there is a mystery as to why bagged trash is continually appearing in pedestrian areas on Carson St. To a question about the 18th St. signals project, Mr. Kraus said the requests for proposal (RFP) are out. To a comment that the streets are a mess and street sweeping is needed, he said he would look into it. But city code says it is the responsibility of property owners to clear curbs. He also reported he would like to put banners up again. Ms. Harnden concluded the report with news that letters were sent to the local universities about student conduct and house parties. The letters have been sent for the past three years.
Mt. Oliver Housing Court case for March 23 The following Mt. Oliver Borough Housing Court case is scheduled for Tuesday, March 23, at 11:00 a .m. in Municipal District Judge Richard King’s Courtroom: • EBG Properties, 125 Margaret Street, Mt. Oliver Borough, Code 506-2, Sanitary Drainage. All Mt. Oliver Housing Court cases are open to the public. Judge King’s office is located at 2213 Brownsville Road, Carrick.
Mt. Oliver Housing Court cases for April 6
The following Mt. Oliver Borough Housing Court case is scheduled for Tuesday, March 9, at 10:00 a .m. in Municipal District Judge Richard King’s Courtroom: • Tina Cassidy, 210 Elizabeth Street, Mt. Oliver Borough, Code 304-7, Roofs & Drainage; Code 304.12, Chimneys; Code 302-1, Exterior Sanitation. • Terrell Scott, 215 St. Joseph Street, Mt. Oliver Borough, Code 183-2, Rental License. • Ledge LLC, 225 Penn Avenue, Mt. Oliver Borough, Code 183-2, Rental License. • Donald Duda, 206 Anthony Street, Mt. Oliver Borough, Code 183-2, Rental License. All Mt. Oliver Housing Court cases are open to the public. Judge King’s office is located at 2213 Brownsville Road, Carrick.
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Next, in the update of DAMs, Barbara Rudiak, president of the SSCC, said three prospective projects were presented at its Feb. 25 DAM. The first presentation was Phase 3 of the Riverside Mews development at S. 18th St. near the Riverfront Park entrance, and which will be going before the Planning Commission. The second presentation was about signage to the front of the building at 2009 E. Carson St., and installation of a garage door and door to the rear of 2009 East Carson St. on Wrights Way for a new “Beyond/Hello, the Medical Marijuana Dispensary.” The proposal will go before the Historic Review
Commission (HRC). The third presentation will also be going before the HRC. It is for the interior and exterior renovation of the first floor of 1321 E. Carson St. to create a residential entry for six new apartment units on the second and third floors at 13211327 East Carson St. The next DAM at 6 p.m. on March 25 will feature plans for the riverfront residential apartment building. The second presentation is expected to be the Esser’s Plaza renovation project. In the South Side Neighborhood Plan update, Tom Smith reported the neighborhood plan committee met. He said the discussion was about the next steps toward a new neighborhood plan
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through City Planning. City Planning has crafted a standardized process that takes 18 to 24 months, and includes an involved public process. The committee consensus was the new plan should be a plan for all of the South Side, meaning, the Flats and Slopes. Mr. Smith said there is a need to do more fact finding. At the next neighborhood plan meeting, someone from Oakland will be invited explain the procedure followed in that neighborhood in pursuing a neighborhood plan. “It’s going to be a long process,” Mr. Smith said. In organization reports, Mark Bucklaw, president of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, said the organization appreciates all of the concerns expressed about the Feb. 8 fire that destroyed the Chamber offices and more.
The historic four-story building in the 1100 block of East Carson St. destroyed by a massive fire housed the Chamber offices (including Welcome Center), barber shop, and six apartments. Everyone escaped safely. The fire is under investigation as to how it started. The Chamber is moving into temporary office space across the street. Its new mailing address is: P.O. Box 42345, Pittsburgh, PA 15203-2345. The Chamber’s executive director, Candice Gonzalez, is working remotely. She is looking forward to the return of Chamber events. The next Planning Forum meeting will be on April 13.
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Consensus group seeks proposals
The History Center will examine the bold experiment to create a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” in its new exhibition, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith. In this photo, students from Pittsburgh participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The “W. Penna March on Washington” banner is on view in the exhibition. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress
History Center partners with Smithsonian for new American Democracy exhibition Revolutionary Americans took a great leap of faith by establishing a new government based on the sovereignty of the people. Since that revolution, generations of Americans have been on a quest to form “a more perfect union.” The Senator John Heinz History Center will examine this bold experiment to create a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” in its new exhibition, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, at the Smithsonian’s home in Pittsburgh. Developed in partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), this timely exhibit will provide much-needed historical context following a year that included heated elections, civil unrest, and challenges to our democracy. With rare artifacts, engaging interactives, and immersive exhibit design, the American Democracy exhibit showcases the history of how we’ve voted, protested, and engaged with our politics, from the nation’s formation to today. The History Center’s exhibit will reveal how Pittsburghers and events in Western Pennsylvania history have helped shape our democracy, including the Whiskey Rebellion, African
American and women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, and more. Highlights of the 7,000-square-foot exhibit include: • Artifacts from our nation’s Founding Fathers, including a Pennsylvania land grant signed by Benjamin Franklin and a travel desk that belonged to George Washington (on loan from Carnegie Museums); and a replica of Thomas Jefferson’s writing desk from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History; Powerful objects of politics and protest, including a banner carried by University of Pittsburgh students during the famous “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” in 1963; a Black Construction Coalition flag; and campaign buttons and ribbons from 1840 to present day; A special section on citizenship in a diverse society and Pittsburgh’s role in the development of the U.S. naturalization exam; • Artifacts showcasing our region’s history and impact on the groundbreaking Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990. Now more than ever, history and civics education are critical to the health of our democracy. The American Democracy exhibition is a key component of the
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History Center’s America 101 civics initiative. By engaging visitors through public programs, special exhibitions, digital learning tools, and educational curriculum, the America 101 initiative empowers citizens to know and act on the promise of the country’s founders, enabling them to write the next chapter of our democracy. A recent study by the Institute for Citizens and Scholars found that only four out of 10 Americans could pass the U.S. citizenship test. By 2026 – America’s 250th birthday – the History Center’s America 101 initiative will ensure that citizens in Western Pa. and beyond are more knowledgeable about American history and able to pass the history and civics portion of the naturalization exam. With six floors of exhibit space and 370,000 square feet, the Heinz History Center offers a safe and comfortable experience for the entire family to enjoy. For more information on the museum’s extensive health and safety measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, visit the center’s website, www. heinzhistorycenter.org Advance tickets to the History Center’s American Democracy exhibition are strongly encouraged. To purchase tickets, visit www. heinzhistorycenter.org/ tickets The American Democracy exhibit, which will be on view through Sunday, Oct. 10, is supported by presenting sponsors Nimick Forbesway Foundation, Eden Hall Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, and Richard King Mellon Foundation.
Continued from Page 1 nomic and social growth in our community that is long overdue,” said Jennifer Cash Wade, Beltzhoover Consensus Group. The Beltzhoover School is more than 100 years old and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The original architectural details are well-preserved. The school was one of 10 facilities closed by Pittsburgh Public Schools in 2004. A community effort to preserve and facilitate the reuse of the building led to the purchase by BCG in 2017. Many alumni still reside in the nearby neighborhoods and view the school as a key building for the community. In September 2020, the city and URA invested $72,000 in improvements to the former Beltzhoover School as part of the Neighborhood Initiatives Fund (NIF) program. “How exciting to come to this day on the heels of such a considerable community process. It is thrilling to see the culmination of the work to date accomplished in partnership with the Beltzhoover Consensus Group, Heinz Endowments, Birmingham Foundation, May-
or Peduto and the URA. Anticipation of this 100 year old gem, adorning the Beltzhoover neighborhood, coming alive again, is the realization the dream so many have held since it’s closing in 2004,” said Councilman Bruce A. Kraus. The full RFP can be found at www.ura.org/proposals/ beltzhoover-school-rfp. Responses are due May 14, 2021. The URA is now using Ion Wave Technology, a cloudbased bidding platform for the automatic notification and transmittal of bid solicitations at no charge to ven-
dors. To receive notifications, you must register with the new system. All parties interested in responding to this RFP or receiving notifications when the URA releases an opportunity must register with Ion Wave Technology. Instructions for the registration process can be found at www.ura.org/proposals/ beltzhoover-school-rfp and on the URA’s proposals and bids webpage, www. ura.org/pages/proposalsbids. All questions regarding this RFQ should be submitted through Ion Wave Technology.
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SSSNA updates include vaccine, Zone 3 and 18th Street signals Continued from Page 1 Hecker, VP of Operations, UPMC Mercy; Zone 3 Police Commander John Fisher; Rep. Jessica Benham, PA House of Representatives, 36th District; and city Councilman Bruce Kraus. Ms. Hecker said the pandemic’s numbers are “flattening.” At one time at Mercy Hospital, there were 60 patients a day with COVID-19. That number has declined to 10 a day currently. She said UPMC is committed to vaccinating as many people as possible. To register for a COVID-19 vaccine from UPMC, visit: vaccine.upmc.com Ms. Hecker said while the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are very effective, a second
shot is required. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is slightly less effective but requires only one dose. Her best advice for dealing with the pandemic is to register on as many sites as possible for the vaccine. Wear masks. Wash hands. Practice social distancing. Next, Commander Fisher introduced himself as the new Zone 3 commander, replacing the newly-retired Commander Karen Dixon. He has been a Pittsburgh police officer for 34 years. Prior to that, he spent one year on the Mt. Oliver police force. Commander Fisher reported all crimes in the zone are down 20 to 25 percent the past two years.
Orthodox churches will display icons in procession Two Orthodox Christian churches in South Side will use icons from the Wrestling With Angels museum exhibition in a local procession. To commemorate the first Sunday of Great Lent, St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Church and St. Mary Orthodox Church congregants plan to carry icons in a joint procession and outdoor service in and around East Carson Street. The loan of these icons is made possible by Icons for America, a ministry that provides for the loan, transportation, and insurance of the 45 icons in the Wrestling With Angels permanent collection. Each of the icons was painted by renowned iconographer Vladislav Andrejev, founder of the Prosopon School of Iconology and Iconography, or one of his master students. After the regular Sunday services on March 21, at approximately noon, congre-
gants will take up the icons from their respective parishes and carry them outside. From St. Vladimir Church the procession will make its way on Sidney Street to 19th Street before heading south. From St. Mary the procession will head north on 19th Street. The congregants will process together on East Carson Street and end with a joint prayer service in the public parking lot at the corner of East Carson and 18th Street. All are welcome to watch the procession and attend the prayer service. Icons will be on display for viewing and veneration on Saturday, March 20, in the afternoon. At St. Mary Orthodox Church, 105 S. 19th St. the Church will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for the viewing of the Icons. St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Church, on 18th St. will keep a similar schedule. Check the local parish websites for and additional details.
The zone today has 115 officers, which is the most in any one zone. A scam currently being run is mailing unauthorized Chase Bank debit cards to residents. Thirty-seven residents in Zone 3 have reported receiving these unsolicited cards. Call 911 if you receive one. The commander said a multi-agency task force will be formed to address the scam. He also reported he is looking at the problem of dirt bikes on streets, which is illegal. Call 911 if you witness this. Commander Fisher said the zone police will not tolerate noise, rowdiness, and drinking alcohol on streets. For such quality-of-life infractions, call 911. Mr. Kraus asked about the 25 percent reduction in crime, and if COVID-19 and the closed businesses are a factor. Commander Fisher said they surely played a role, but the statistics are over two years. Next, Rep. Benham said budget hearings are on-going in Harrisburg. She is working on “a centralized waitlist” for vaccines. Call her office at 412-8814208 for heating assistance or any problems. She next introduced school board candidate Jamie Piotrowski, who is a social worker, and lives in the Slopes. Her candidacy is also supported by Mr. Kraus, who said it is “so very exciting” to see young women enter politics. The final speaker was Mr. Kraus, who said speed bumps, or traffic calming, on Pius St. is a petitioning process. He asked for petitions or letters of support. Reporting on Dept. of Pu b l i c W o rk s ’ (DPW ) 4th Division in Knoxville, he said ground is expected
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to be broken on April 1 for the new facility. Mr. Kraus said the expectation is that the new facility will open next year. DPW shut down the former facility five years ago when it became uninhabitable as the building was toxic and unhealthy, and no longer viable. Division 4 responsibilities have since been split between divisions 3 and 5. Mr. Kraus said the delay in building a new facility was due to a landlord who did not want to sell nearby property, thereby necessitating designing a campus around it. Then, when the landlord had a change of mind and decided to sell to the city, a new campus had to be redesigned. Regarding the federally-funded 18 th St. signals upgrades for pedestrian safety, he said “the project is coming.” The project is currently in the requests for proposal (RFP) stage. The work should begin this summer. He said there will be new signals at Sarah St., Jane St., Josephine St., Mission St., Arlington Ave., and Amanda St. The traffic signal upgrades include: gloss black signal poles; audible countdown pedestrian signals; and more. Regarding lighting for the 18th St. steps, Mr. Kraus said lighting is coming soon. There will be no closure of the steps during that time. To a question about condemned houses, he said an 18th and Josephine streets property is on the demolition list. Federal regulations hold up the process, like asbestos abatement. But Mr. Kraus said he expects this property to be demolished in 2021. It costs $50,000 to $60,000 to demolish each property. To a question about the 18th St. mural, he said there is a push toward restoration of the mural. To a question about the future of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Kraus said “what a staggering loss that property was.” On Feb. 8, the historic four-story building in the 1100 block of East Carson St. was destroyed by a massive fire. It housed the Chamber offices (including Welcome Center), barber shop, and six apartments. Everyone escaped safely. The Chamber’s executive director, Candice Gonzalez, said the fire is under investigation as to its cause. The Chamber has relo-
cated into temporary office space across the street from its former site. In updates, Phase 1 of the South Side Park master plan will be breaking ground in the spring. Goats will be coming to the park’s Jurassic Valley to eat invasive species and vines. There will be discussion of the potential of a Goat Fest in September if everything opens up post-pandemic. In the StepTrek update, last year was the 20th year for the annual non-competitive, self-guided walking tour of the Slopes. A virtual event was held and 350 tickets were sold. This year will be the
21 st year, but it will be celebrated as if it was the 20th. Email the SSSNA if you are interested in joining the StepTrek committee. The “adopt a step” program, in which residents adopt a set of stairs and keep it clean, will be conducted again this year. Mr. McLaren announced that a new SSSNA website and newsletter are in the works. Gisele Betances, the liaison with the Mayor’s Office, said to contact her for any concerns. Regarding the emergency rental assistance program, there are requirements and income criteria, she said.
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