Keeping an Eye on the CAP: Ribbon-Cutting

The ribbon-cutting for the CAP, now called the Frankie Pace Park, happened on schedule on November 22, 2021. The Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh Post=Gazette, WTAE, KDKA/CBS, and SAI Consulting Engineers reported on the ceremony. The Tribune-Review and WTAE also have articles on the resolution earlier this month by City Council to name the park after Frankie Pace (1905-1989), a community activist and business owner in the Lower Hill.

The CAP is a project in Pittsburgh “fixing the mistakes” of Urban Renewal. The Crosstown Blvd was built in the 1960s creating a freeway in a canyon dividing the Lower Hill neighborhood from downtown. The Lower Hill neighborhood, formerly predominantly poor and black, had already been demolished by this point to make way for the Civic Arena and other cultural amenities that were never built.

The CAP is a park on a bridge built over the Crosstown Blvd and is intended to reconnect downtown and the Lower Hill, while the Lower Hill is being rebuilt by the Penguins hockey team. Construction began in June 2019 and was completed in November 2021.

This post is an update on the on-going photographic series to watch the development and usage patterns of the CAP. Periodically, once or twice a year, I return to the site to take new photographs. I plan to take the next series of photos next year in the warmer weather to see who uses the park and how. At the end of the post, there are links to the previous posts in this series.

Locating the CAP


Previous Posts in the Series

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: Nov. 2021

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: May 2021

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: Dec. 2020

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: Jun. 2020

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: Dec. 2019

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Introduction

Keeping an Eye on the Lower Hill: Dec. 2021

Overview

The Lower Hill is a notorious site in Pittsburgh, a scar on the city from the height of Urban Renewal. A vibrant (but poor and predominately Black) neighborhood was demolished in the 1950s so the City could build a cultural mecca centered on a Civic Arena, but most of the site ended up not being built and was left as parking lots.

Now that the arena has been demolished and replaced adjacent to the former location, the Penguins hockey team has the development rights to rebuild the Lower Hill, stitching back together the fabric of the city and reconnecting the remainder of the Hill District neighborhoods with downtown.

However, grand language describing the wonderful benefits to a city are part and parcel of any major development project, including the 1950’s Urban Renewal of the Lower Hill. Fifty years later, the Urban Renewal of the Lower Hill is rarely, if ever, described as a good thing. In fact, the current redevelopment is sometimes described as undoing the mistakes of that project. However, can the negative financial, social, and emotional repercussions of the original demolition and decades of disconnect be undone simply by reinstating (most of) the former street grid?

This blog post is part of an on-going photographic series to watch the redevelopment of the Lower Hill. Periodically, approximately once every six months, I return to the site to take new photographs. In addition, I include links to articles about the project that I’ve encountered since the previous post in the series. At the end of the post, there are links to all the previous posts in the series.

What’s New

Ground has broken! There are a large hole, giant piles of dirt and debris, and closed sidewalks as construction begins for the new FNB Tower, the first building to be built on the site.

This was also the first time that I’ve visited the site on the day of a Penguins game, which was interesting to see how the sea of parking lots get used for events. At least one of the lots is reserved for employees only during events. There is also a slight price differential, the lot closet to the arena costs $30 to park for the event, while the one at the top of the hill is “only” $25.

Photos

Lower Hill in the News

Controversy and concerns continue over the redevelopment of the Lower Hill from the Executive Management Committee that was appointed to answer how the redevelopment would benefit the entire Hill District in private meetings (September 17, 2021, Public Source, & September 23, 2021, NextPittsburgh) to the impact of a pending change in owner of the Penguins (November 23, NextPittsburgh) and the pending registration of a second community organization in the Lower Hill, which would then also participate in the Lower Hill development activities meetings (November 19, 2021, Public Source). The potential new owner has previously been involved in real estate development around sports arenas (November 21, 2021, Post-Gazette).

Locating the Lower Hill


Previous posts in series

Keeping an Eye on the Lower Hill: May 2021

Keeping an Eye on the Lower Hill: Dec. 2020

Keeping an Eye on the Lower Hill: Jun. 2020

Keeping an Eye on the Lower Hill: Jan. 2020

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Introduction

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Dec. 2021

Overview

Uptown is one of the many neighborhoods in Pittsburgh that experienced decades of neglect. For this neighborhood, the neglect was despite Uptown being sandwiched between Oakland and downtown, two places among the state’s strongest economic regions. Zipping through Uptown from Oakland to downtown on Fifth Avenue or from downtown to Oakland on Forbes Avenue, it is easy to overlook or dismiss the hodgepodge of ruined home foundations turning back to forest; scattered vacant lots, parking lots, and industrial uses; and the intricate architectural details on abandoned and renovated townhomes.

In recent years, new buildings started springing up here and there. Some of these new projects are the work of the two institutions in the neighborhood: UPMC Mercy Hospital and Duquesne University. Others are the work of a variety of commercial and residential developers. Two reasons for this recent investment are the proposed Bus Rapid Transit system, which will eventually run through the neighborhood, and the in-progress redevelopment of the Lower Hill, an adjacent neighborhood.

The Uptown community saw these changes coming and prepared. Between 2015 and 2017, the community organization Uptown Partners collaborated UPMC Mercy, Duquesne University, the City of Pittsburgh, and others to create the EcoInnovation District Plan and the Uptown Public Realm zoning district. The plan and new zoning district are intended to guide future development and leverage their economic investment for the greater good of the neighborhood. Ideally, this will reduce the number of those who will be left behind.

This blog post is part of an on-going series watching the changes in Uptown. Periodically, once or twice a year, I return to the neighborhood to take new photographs of the same areas. In addition, I include links to articles about the project that I’ve encountered since the previous post in the series. At the end of the post, there is a map showing the location of the neighborhood and links to the previous posts in the series.

What’s new

Since the last walk through the neighborhood, several buildings have been demolished while those that have been under construction continue to make progress. Progress also continues on a handful of housing renovations in the neighborhood.

The roads and sidewalks were even more rough and patched from the utility line replacements started this spring. According to a recent press release from the Mayor’s office, this utility work will continue next year, so a temporary repaving will be happening shortly to smooth out the roads for the winter season.

While I believe that this utility work is part of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s lead line replacement project, there were new signs up in the neighborhood apologizing for the mess as the neighborhood prepares for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The utility replacement mess has happened in various neighborhoods throughout the city including those that are not part of the BRT routes. However, there was no other obvious mess, yet, that would be more directly associated with the construction of a BRT and need signs of apology.

The Photos

Uptown in the News & on the Web:

The pending Fifth and Dinwiddie development (image 8 above) proposes to be Passive House certified, include double the number of affordable housing units required by the URA as a condition of sale, and provide training on clean energy jobs. (September 20, 2021: NextPittsburgh)

UPMC’s Vision and Rehabilitation Center (images 19, 9, 12 above) is on track to open in 2023 despite construction disruptions, supply shortages, and the pressure placed on existing healthcare systems by COVID. (November 16, 2021: Pittsburgh Business Times, Tribune Review)

Locating Uptown


Previous posts in series:

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Jul. 2021

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Nov. 2020

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: May 2020

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Nov. 2019

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Introduction (November 15, 2019)

Moral Economics (September 1, 2019)

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: Nov. 2021

The CAP is a project in Pittsburgh “fixing the mistakes” of Urban Renewal. The Crosstown Blvd was built in the 1960s creating a freeway in a canyon dividing the Lower Hill neighborhood from downtown. The Lower Hill neighborhood, formerly predominantly poor and black, had already been demolished by this point to make way for the Civic Arena and other cultural amenities that were never built.

The CAP is a park on a bridge being built over the Crosstown Blvd and is intended to reconnect downtown and the Lower Hill, while the Lower Hill is being rebuilt by the Penguins hockey team. Construction began in June 2019 and was expected to be completed in November 2021. As the photos below show, it appears to be predominantly completed mid-November 2021, but the construction fence was still up. There are still a couple weeks left in the month to meet the project schedule. There do not appear to be any news articles about this project since the May post of Keeping an Eye on the CAP. The next bit of news about the site will probably be either announcing the ribbon cutting or a project delay.

This post is part of an on-going photographic series to watch the development and usage patterns of the CAP. Periodically, approximately once every six months, I return to the site to take new photographs. At the end of the post, there are links to all the previous posts in the series.


Previous Posts in the Series:

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: May 2021

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: Dec. 2020

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: Jun. 2020

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: Dec. 2019

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Introduction

Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood Slope: Sep. 2021

Overview

Hazelwood is a neighborhood about 4 miles down the Monongahela River from downtown Pittsburgh. It is currently experiencing significant change, at least in the Hazelwood Green portion. The area that I’m designating as Hazelwood Slope is everything outside Hazelwood Green and the small residential enclave between the tracks and the river that I call Hazelwood Flats. The Hazelwood Slope contains the neighborhood’s commercial corridor, cultural and historical sites, and the majority of the neighborhoods’ residences.

What’s New

After my September 2020 check-in on Hazelwood, it seemed that changes in Hazelwood were happening at a slower pace than the other sites I’m keeping an eye on. So I decided to switch from a 6-month interval to a 12-month interval between visits. A few months ago, I saw construction vehicles and other signs of activity while driving down Second Ave through Hazelwood. I thought perhaps I was missing out on some activity. However, when I walked through the neighborhood this month, I couldn’t find any signs of recent demolition or recent construction.

An exciting project that is projected to start soon is the conversion of the former Gladstone School to affordable housing. There were subtle signs of site prep when I walked by this month. Construction is expected to start before the end of the year with an anticipated completion date in 2023.

The Photos

Second Ave
Hazelwood Ave & Other Sites

Hazelwood in the News

Funding from Bridgeway Capital, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, and the Pennsylvania Housing Financing Agency has been awarded for affordable housing projects in Hazelwood. Center of Life, a local non-profit, also received a major donation to support its mission of helping underserved K-12 students and their families in the neighborhood.

Inspired by the popular Friday fish fries in Pittsburgh, Hazelwood’s Community Kitchen launched a Friday BBQ series this year.


Locating Hazelwood Slope


Previous posts in series

Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood (across the tracks): Sept. 2020

Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood (across the tracks): Apr. 2020

Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood: Introduction


Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood Flats: Aug. 2021

Overview

Hazelwood is a neighborhood about 4 miles down the Monongahela River from downtown Pittsburgh. It is currently experiencing significant change, at least in the Hazelwood Green portion. The area that I’m designating as Hazelwood Flats, is a small predominantly residential enclave. On the north-south axis, it is sandwiched between the former site of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Mill (now Hazelwood Green) and a mixed commercial/industrial area that includes the city’s recycling processing center. On the east-west axis, it is sandwiched between the river and the railroad tracks.

Given the extent of disinvestment in the Hazelwood in recent decades, this enclave is relatively intact with far fewer vacant lots than in the remainder of the neighborhood. The housing stock ranges from boarded up to maintained with vibrant yards.

Only two streets cross the railroad tracks to connect this enclave with Second Ave, the neighborhood’s main street and a main artery for the city. A small road with car-swallowing potholes connects the enclave directly to Hazelwood Green bypassing the black wrapped fence surrounding Uber’s test track.

While Uber has a veiled presence in the neighborhood and robots are being tested nearby, the question is what will happen to the residents and the neighborhood. Through this photographic series, I will periodically return to the neighborhood to document the physical changes to the Hazelwood Flats to capture a part of the answer to that question as it unfolds. This is in conjunction with two related series documenting the changes to Hazelwood Green and the slope portion of Hazelwood on the other side of the railroad tracks.

What’s New

Since I last visited Hazelwood Flats, work has begun on the renovation of the former Hazelwood Brewery (image 5a). The proposed new use of this site is a hub for craft brewers. I noticed a vacant lot on Blair Street (image 9a) that may have been newly vacant or was just more noticeable as a staging area for the water main replacement in the neighborhood (similar to the water main replacement in Uptown this summer). As I’m becoming more familiar with the neighborhood, I’m seeing more details – such as noticing the rowhouses tucked along the Ways (image 15) similar to other worker housing neighborhoods in Pittsburgh like Lawrenceville and Garfield.

The Photos


Locating Hazelwood Flats

Previous posts in series

Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood: Sept. 2020

Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood: May 2020

Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood: Introduction

Open Streets Hazelwood Green

I was confused when Open Streets Pittsburgh announced that it was closing the streets in Hazelwood Green to cars and opening them to bicycles, roller skates, walkers, etc. Unlike the other locations they’ve done, not many cars use these streets and there aren’t any businesses on the site that people would come back to patronize after the festival.

However, it worked as a vehicle to increase awareness of the bike trail, plaza, and repurposed industrial buildings on the site. People who never or rarely come to Hazelwood, but come to Open Streets, came and participated. There were far more people than I’ve seen congregated in a single location since the beginning of the pandemic, which is also an exponential increase in the number of people I’ve seen in Hazelwood Green either pre-, post-, or during pandemic.

It was great to see the new plaza put to one of its intended uses as a concert venue with vendors on the paved portion. I arrived in time to grab some lunch from the tent for C&D’s Kitchen, a local Hazelwood restaurant, before finding a good seat to enjoy Jimmy Adler’s Blues Band and people watch. A young girl unconsciously stopped in her tracks to swing her hips to the music (not having the muscle coordination yet to do both). Across the green, a man kicked off his shoes to boogie on the grass.

I hope to enjoy many more such sights at events in this plaza.

Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood Green: Jul. 2021

Overview

Hazelwood is a neighborhood about 4 miles down the Monongahela River from downtown Pittsburgh. It is currently experiencing significant change. Between Hazelwood’s main street (2nd Avenue) and the Monongahela River is a 178-acre site of the former Jones and Laughlin Steel Company. Most of the structures from the mill were demolished, leaving a large brownfield. In 2002, the site was purchased for redevelopment by Almono LP (at the time, an entity made up of four Pittsburgh foundations). After years of planning and a rebranding of the site as Hazelwood Green, a series of public streets and the first building opened for use in 2019. Construction is underway for more buildings and a public plaza.

During the planning and preparation stages, a question arose as to the effects of this redevelopment on the surrounding neighborhood. Hazelwood is one of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods that has experienced high vacancy rates and subsequent demolition in its residential and business districts. While the building stock of the neighborhood has experienced a long downward trend, the community of people is strong. Only time will tell if the redevelopment of Hazelwood Green will connect with this community or if Hazelwood Green will become and isolated spot of prosperity for others.

Through three photographic series, Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood Green, Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood Flats, and Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood Slope, I will periodically document the physical changes to the former steel mill site and to the surrounding neighborhood.

What’s New

Since the last time I photographed Hazelwood Green, the most significant changes are the near completion of the public plaza (photo 24a) and the Roundhouse (photo 8), a former mill building converted to office space. Construction is also underway for the final building in Mill 19 (photos 29, 31, and 33), the remaining steel frame of one of the former mill buildings.

The Photos

Hazelwood Green in the News

The May 2021 opening of the public plaza was covered by NextPittsburgh (May 6, 2021), Pittsburgh Business Times (May 7, 20201), and KDKA (May 8, 2021).

Almono LP led a process to develop a riverfront master plan for the site. The Post-Gazette and Tribune Review announced the proposal to seek input on the plan in September 2020. The Pennsylvania Environment Council updated their September 2020 announcement of the planning process with a link to the report on the fall planning process. WPXI and Pittsburgh Business Times reported on the release of the riverfront master plan in April 2021.

The Roundhouse renovation’s press is skewed toward the stories on the construction from October 2020 (WPXI, Tribune Review, NextPittsburgh, Post-Gazette) and the stories on the start-up challenge that coincided with OneValley’s February 2021 announcement that they would be opening an innovation center at the Roundhouse (NextPittsburgh, technical.ly, OneValley, Innovate PGH, PR Newswire). Technical.ly’s article is the only one I found on the opening of OneValley’s innovation center this month.

In other news, a grant was awarded to abate asbestos and lead in Mill 19 (PA Environment Digest Blog, October 13, 2020), a contested shuttle proposal between Hazelwood and Oakland is moving forward again (WESA, October 20, 2020), a green manufacturing plant may come to the site (Post-Gazette, May 6, 2021), Michael Keaton, aka Batman, visited Hazelwood Green in May 2021 (Pittsburgh Business Times, May 20, 2021), artists will be designing bus stops for Hazelwood Green (evolveEA, May 21, 2021), Carnegie Mellon University announced a proposal for a new robotics innovation center while the community works to make sure development supports residents (technical.ly, June 23, 2021), and Tishman Speyer may become a private development investing partner with Almono LP (Pittsburgh Business Times, July 9, 2021)

Locating Hazelwood Green


Previous posts in series

Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood Green: Aug 2020

Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood Green: Mar. 2020

Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood: Introduction

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Jul. 2021

Overview

Uptown is one of the many neighborhoods in Pittsburgh that experienced decades of neglect. For this neighborhood, the neglect was despite Uptown being sandwiched between Oakland and downtown, two places among the state’s strongest economic regions. Zipping through Uptown from Oakland to downtown on Fifth Avenue or from downtown to Oakland on Forbes Avenue, it is easy to overlook or dismiss the hodgepodge of ruined home foundations turning back to forest; scattered vacant lots, parking lots, and industrial uses; and the intricate architectural details on abandoned and renovated townhomes.

In recent years, new buildings started springing up here and there. Some of these new projects are the work of the two institutions in the neighborhood: UPMC Mercy Hospital and Duquesne University. Others are the work of a variety of commercial and residential developers. Two reasons for this recent investment are the proposed Bus Rapid Transit system, which will eventually run through the neighborhood, and the in-progress redevelopment of the Lower Hill, an adjacent neighborhood.

The Uptown community saw these changes coming and prepared. Between 2015 and 2017, the community organization Uptown Partners collaborated UPMC Mercy, Duquesne University, the City of Pittsburgh, and others to create the EcoInnovation District Plan and the Uptown Public Realm zoning district. The plan and new zoning district are intended to guide future development and leverage their economic investment for the greater good of the neighborhood. Ideally, this will reduce the number of those who will be left behind.

This blog post is part of an on-going series watching the changes in Uptown. Periodically, approximately every six months, I return to the neighborhood to take new photographs of the same areas. In addition, I include links to articles about the project that I’ve encountered since the previous post in the series. At the end of the post, there is a map showing the location of the neighborhood and links to the previous posts in the series.

What’s new

Development activity is picking up in Uptown. Walking around the neighborhood for this update required skirting closed sidewalks, uneven pavement, and construction staging of materials and equipment. The new activity includes:

  • PWSA’s (Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority) replacement of the watermain and lead service lines along Forbes Avenue
  • Evidence of demolition work on the long boarded-up Seneca Street rowhouses (image 3)
  • Demolition progress for the development of tech flex project that was briefly held up last year due to community concerns of gentrification (image 6a)
  • A new project for apartments and retail going up on 5th Avenue while the buildings around it appear to be preparing for renovation or demolition (image 8a)
  • Duquesne University’s next project to demolish and build on the site across the street from its newly rebuilt fieldhouse (images 21a & 22a)

The Photos

Uptown in the News & on the Web:

Next Pittsburgh reported on the start of construction for the new 51-unit apartment building on 5th Avenue (June 3, 2020), captured in image 8a above, and the opening of Duquesne University’s UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse (February 1, 2021), shown in image 22a above. The Pittsburgh Business Times shared what students will experience in Duquesne’s new College of Osteopathic Medicine (May 13, 2021) that is being built across from the fieldhouse (images 21a and 22a above).

Uptown Partners began to install free community wi-fi in the neighborhood (Pittsburgh Business Times, November 10, 2020).

And more federal funds have been directed toward the ongoing development of the Bus Rapid Transit system through Uptown to connect downtown and Oakland (Pittsburgh Business Times, June 11, 2021).

Locating Uptown


Previous posts in series:

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Nov. 2020

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: May 2020

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Nov. 2019

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Introduction (November 15, 2019)

Moral Economics (September 1, 2019)

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: May 2021

The CAP is a project in Pittsburgh “fixing the mistakes” of Urban Renewal. The Crosstown Blvd was built in the 1960s creating a freeway in a canyon dividing the Lower Hill neighborhood from downtown. The Lower Hill neighborhood, formerly predominantly poor and black, had already been demolished by this point to make way for the Civic Arena and other cultural amenities that were never built.

The CAP is a park on a bridge being built over the Crosstown Blvd and is intended to reconnect downtown and the Lower Hill, while the Lower Hill is being rebuilt by the Penguins hockey team. Construction began in June 2019 and is expected to complete in November 2021.

This blog post is part of an on-going photographic series to watch the development and usage patterns of the CAP. Periodically, approximately once every six months, I return to the site to take new photographs. In addition, I include links to articles about the project that I’ve encountered since the previous post in the series. At the end of the post, there are links to all the previous posts in the series.



The CAP in the News:

WPXI and the Post-Gazette both shared an update on the project in March noting that construction had progressed far enough for the outlines of a park to begin to be recognizable.


Previous Posts in the Series:

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: Dec. 2020

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: Jun. 2020

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: Dec. 2019

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Introduction