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 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

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 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

Keeping an Eye on the Lower Hill: May 2021

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, most of which 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.

Lower Hill in the News:

A deep look at the Penguins development in anticipation of ground breaking later this year (January 13, 2021, The Undefeated)

Is the project moving too fast to make sure it is done right for the community? (March 15, 2021, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Community questions if the first building is being rushed at the community’s expense (March 16, 2021, WESA)

Pittsburgh’s Equal Opportunity Commission approved the Penguins’ MWBE participation plan (March 18, 2021, Pittsburgh Business Times)

Penguins updated the community on progress of MWBE inclusion as ground breaking approaches (April 1, 2021, Pittsburgh Business Times)

The census line is moved to undo the Urban Renewal inclusion of the Lower Hill in the downtown census tract, but will this divert needed funds from the rest of the Hill District? (April 7, 2021, Public Source)

A major Black church was demolished as part of Urban Renewal while a nearby White church was saved from the wrecking ball, are reparations now possible? (April 14, 2021, Public Source)

Penguins propose a $5 million Opportunity Zone fund (April 16, 2021, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The final plan presented to Pittsburgh’s Planning Commission for the new FNB Tower proposes not finishing the last block to reconnect Wylie Ave to downtown. This is a change from the guiding redevelopment plan and technically requires an amendment that the developer says will take too long. (April 20, 2021, Pittsburgh Business Times)


Previous posts in series:

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 the Lower Hill: Dec. 2020

Lower Hill in the News:

URA board votes in favor of FNB Tower (Pittsburgh Business Times, May 21, 2020)

FNB tower will be among first post-pandemic buildings (Pittsburgh Business Times, May 22, 2020)

The Penguins and FNB Corp provide funds for tech center in the Hill District (Pittsburgh Business Times, August 27, 2020)

FNB and Penguins establish partnership (Pittsburgh Business Times, September 10, 2020)

Funding secured for FNB tower in Lower Hill (Pittsburgh Business Times, October 8, 2020)

Penguins miss deadline; URA considering next moves (Pittsburgh Business Times, November 12, 2020)

Lower Hill commercial redeveloper, Mayor Peduto, and Councilman Lavelle announce partnership (Mayor’s Press Release, November 19, 2020)

New Lower Hill partnership could move project forward (Public Source, November 19, 2020)

Lower Hill redeveloper establishes downtown office and announces local firms and personnel added to team (Pittsburgh Business Times, November 19, 2020)

Previous posts in series:

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 the CAP: Dec. 2020


The CAP in the News:

Project on schedule despite pandemic (Tribune Review, July 29, 2020)

Project continues on schedule (WESA, October 5, 2020)


Previous Posts in the Series:

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: Jun. 2020

Keeping an Eye on the CAP: Dec. 2019

Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Introduction