A Building, Bites and Buzz on Bryant
On Thurs., Oct. 25, Bryant Street in Highland Park was the place to be.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, State Senator Jim Ferlo, Andy Haines (executive vice-president, S&A Homes), the Highland Park Community Development Corporation (HPCDC) and the Highland Park Community Council joined other community leaders, business owners and nearby residents to celebrate new additions to the neighborhood as well as some local favorites.
First, was the groundbreaking for a new, 12,000 square foot, mixed-use building on Bryant (next to Park Bruges). Based on a design by East Liberty-based mossArchitects, the mixed-use project is through a partnership between the HPCDC and S&A Homes, the residential developer that has brought new homes to the central North Side and East Liberty. The three-story building will contain six new residential units and 3,500 square feet of commercial space. The project will add critical building mass to the Bryant Street corridor and go a long way towards realizing the vision of a vibrant and diverse neighborhood commercial district. Read more here.
Immediately following the groundbreaking, was the kick-off for “Bite of Bryant Street,” a restaurant crawl featuring food and drink specials as well as free menu samplings from participating venues. Over the past few years Bryant Street has transformed into a restaurant destination of sorts with 10 food purveyors located within the two-block area that make up its core business district. Local restaurant owners Jesse Seager (Park Bruges) and Joseph Tambellini (Joseph Tambellini Restaurant) gave brief remarks and then the crowd indulged in some mouthwatering morsels.
In addition, new banners were designed and installed for the event courtesy of the URA and Mayor Ravenstahl's Biz Buzz initiative. The banners will reinforce the two block area that comprises the heart of the commercial district while also being placed at both ends of Bryant Street to signify an entrance way. "Our hope is that the banners create a missing “wow factor” when one enters the district from either end of the Bryant Street," said Josette Fitzgibbons, the URA's Mainstreets manager and Biz Buzz coordinator.
Want to learn more about the Biz Buzz grant program? Click on the bee.
Urban, Innovative and Green
Business Bout Update: The folks at Thrill Mill received 150 submissions for their business plan competition. Check back for updates on the competition in next month's newsletter.
Look who's hiring in Pittsburgh: URA clients the Resumator, NoWait, ShowClix, and more.
Calling all Entrepreneurs and Small Biz Owners!
From our partners at the University of Pittsburgh: Entrepreneurs are critical to success of our communities as well as our nation. To make it easier for emerging entrepreneurs and existing small business owners to gain access to our educational programs, the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence is hosting several in the east end neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. Below are the dates of the programs:
* Urban Pioneer Program - Saturday, November 3, 9-10:30 a.m. at The Kingsley Association
* The First Step: Mechanics of Starting a Small Business - Saturday, November 10, 9-11 a.m. at Hosanna House
* The Second Step: Developing a Business Plan - Saturday, November 17, 9:30-11:30 a.m. at Homewood-Brushton YMCA
PowerUp Pittsburgh- Like us on Facebook!
It's Easy Being Green
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - Fun Facts:
On average, each one of us produces 4.4 pounds of garbage each day. That adds up to almost 250 million tons of trash per year. Two-thirds of this garbage ends up in landfills, where it can take anywhere from 100 to 400 years for things like cloth and aluminum to decompose
Your plastic bottles are often downcycled to make carpet thread. Milk cartons often get downcycled to make Kleenex and tissues.
Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, and 4000 kilowatt hours of electricity. This is enough energy to power the average American home for 5 months. Recycled paper also takes about 60 percent less energy and water to make than new paper.
A piece of paper can be recycled seven to 15 times before the fibers get too short for making paper. Those waste fibers are collected and sold to farmers as an additive for enriching soil.
When you throw away an aluminum can you waste as much energy as if you’d filled the can half full of gasoline and poured it into the ground.
A used aluminum can can be recycled and back on the grocery shelf as a new can, in as little as 60 days. That's closed loop recycling at its finest!
More Than Just a Lending Agency: Housing Success Story
When Karen Sloan and David Carlton relocated to Pittsburgh from California’s Silicon Valley, they decided to settle in the North Point Breeze neighborhood.
“It was the affordability and walkability of the neighborhood, with wide, tree-lined streets and amenities close by that drew us in” said Sloan. “We are within walking distance to grocery stores, the busway stop, Construction Junction and Frick Park. The pace of life is just right here for us, much better than our hectic lives in Silicon Valley. We especially love Grow Pittsburgh’s Shiloh Farms on Thomas Blvd., in fact, I volunteer there weekly during the growing season.”
Karen and David needed to make upgrades to their home and wanted to do it in an environmentally friendly way. The URA’s Pittsburgh Home Rehabilitation Program (PHRP) Plus was the perfect fit. They received a $44,501 PHRP Plus loan, which provides a zero percent fixed rate for up to 25 years for home improvements. In addition, they received the added benefit of an Energy Efficiency Loan program grant of up to $2,500 to make energy saving improvements.
“The old boiler was original to the house, probably built around 1920, and it looks like it was converted from coal to natural gas. The new boiler is 96 percent efficient and made in Michigan. The windows we installed were made in Oakmont, PA. We were really excited to be able to use local, American-made products. Not to mention the huge reduction in our energy bills.”
“Ed Deshler (senior construction advisor II) really looked out for us, making sure we used quality products and that the work was getting done. We’re very grateful that the URA has wonderful contractors available for folks like us, who are on a budget, enabling and ensuring excellence. To be able to have windows, plumbing and all the basic work we needed done well is such a blessing,” said Sloan.
When asked about working with URA, Sloan said, “I appreciate how Jarmele Fairclaugh (housing finance specialist) was available to answer any questions. She made the whole experience easy and understandable. The process can be lengthy, yet she kept reassuring us that everything was on track for our loan.”
Sloan and Carlton are excited about the energy savings they’ll receive from the improvements. “The money we’ll save in gas bills equals out to about the cost of purchasing and installing the new boiler with the PHRP Plus repayment plan. Eventually, we may even come out ahead on costs” said Sloan.
To find out more about URA home loans and how we can help you, click here.
Get to Know: Paul Alessio
Job Title: Project Manager, Engineering and Construction
What you actually do: Bid for services and provide oversight of engineers and contractors to design and construct URA projects. Ensure things get built on time, under budget and correct. Provide engineering support for other departments.
Years at URA: 4.5
Best thing about working at the URA: We build things that make Pittsburgh a better place.
Favorite project/Most satisfying moment in career: The South Shore Riverfront Park. The project was educational, challenging, frustrating at times, exciting and totally worth it. Still working on it…
Education: BS, Civil Engineering, University of Pittsburgh
Where you were before the URA: Consulting Civil/Environmental Engineer at various companies whose names are made up of apparently arbitrary letters
If you were boss for the day: I would put picnic tables on the roof and have bands play during lunchtime up there.
The Boss says: "Paul is a valued and hard working member of the Department of Engineering and Construction. He is an 'old fashioned' engineer, minus the pocket protector, willing to do the calculations, to engage in the difficult negotiations, and to go the extra mile to complete his work. It is a pleasure to have him as a co-worker." - Marty Kaminski, URA director of engineering
If you weren't at the URA you'd be... a sportswriter covering the Pittsburgh Pirates
First job: News carrier for the New Castle News
Favorite athlete: Roberto Clemente, Kareem Abdul-Jabar
Favorite restaurant: currently Pusadee’s Garden in Lawrenceville, but it changes from time to time.
Favorite thing to do when not at work: golf and fix my 125 year old house
Secret vice: cheap cigars, chocolate chip cookies, basketball on TV
What three words describe you best: opinionated, earnest, friendly
Favorite TV show when you were young: “Green Acres”, starring Eddie Albert and one of the Gabor sisters.
Three things always in your refrigerator: marinara sauce, apples, cheese
Three people (living or dead) you’d like to have dinner with: Benjamin Franklin, Francis of Assisi, Neil Armstrong
Actor who would play you in a movie: I want to say mark Wahlberg, but more likely Joe Pesci...
People would be surprised to know that back in the day... I played drums in a garage band that got airplay on WDVE
Family: wife Lynne; children Elizabeth (husband Corey), Sarah (husband Aaron), Kelley (husband Mike) and Max; grandchildren Owen, Aubrie and Evia
Pets: Harry Hairball, the orange cat
Contact Info: Paul Alessio 412-255-6641
'Tis Better to Give: Rebuilding Together and URA
On Oct. 25 and 26, the URA and the City’s Redd Up crew teamed up with Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh (RTP) for a volunteer event in Sheraden to help low-income seniors with critical home repairs and the neighborhood at large by eliminating blight.
This was the second year that the URA sponsored RTP’s “Neighborhood Block Build,” program, which targets multiple homes in a given area in need of repairs and rehabilitation and performs these services at no cost to the homeowners. The URA donated $10,000 to RTP for supplies and materials.
Approximately 25 URA employees were granted one day of administrative leave by Acting Executive Director Robert Rubinstein to work with RTP house captains on three homes.
In one they removed a 20+ year old carpet and replaced it with new laminate flooring, installed a new drop ceiling in the kitchen, removed and rebuilt a severely leaning retaining wall, and painted throughout the home.
In another, they replaced dangerous railings on the front porch to prevent a fall, secured a wobbly banister and replaced spindles, and renovated the kitchen, which included new flooring, a new backsplash, freshly painted walls, and a safe radiator in place of old baseboard heaters that had exposed heating elements.
On the third house they repaired a leaky tub and installed a brand new shower surround, complete with a cut tub-wall for easy access. The living room ceilings and walls were patched and repaired, and then volunteers gave the whole house a fresh coat of paint. Read more.
On October 22 and 23, the Pittsburgh City Living initiative, in collaboration with the REALTORS® Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh and REALTORS® Educational Institute, offered the seventh continuing education course for real estate professionals.
The course provides tools and information to real estate professionals to take the mystery out of selling homes in City of Pittsburgh neighborhoods, and to help potential home buyers find the right City neighborhood in which to live based on their lifestyles.
Congratulations to the following students who successfully completed the course:
Amy Bair Phyllis Basial
Marcia Briner Pia Colucci
Kevin Dolney Lisa Eloraz
Sheila Finch Mary Golob-O'Sell
Jonathan Growall Janet Hensler
Susan Lesczynski Steven Matcho
Melinda McKee Suzanne Nicoletti
Rochelle Roteman Mary Sapienza
Barbara Slade Mark Slick
Richard Vargo Nancy Ware
"I had no idea until this week how involved the URA has been in the positive changes of Pittsburgh.
I wasn't sure how much I would learn in this class when I signed up. I read everything I can get my hands on related to our neighborhoods and give my own tours of the City to whomever I can get my hands on. You two still blew me away with your knowledge. My mind is thoroughly expanded. Besides Rick Sebak and myself, I do not know of two folks more enthused about all
neighborhoods in Pittsburgh." :) - Jonathan Growall
Like us on Facebook!
“It was an extraordinarily complicated endeavor,” said Craig Dunham, project manager for Summerset Land Development Associates.
“This is a development team that has done many deals that people thought were impossible,” (Robert) Rubinstein says (acting URA executive director). “They find a creative way to use the various tools that are out there.”
“Neighborhood projects like these are crucial to continuing Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance, which is marked by job creation, neighborhood growth and economic development,” said (Mayor Luke) Ravenstahl.”
URA Out and About
Last month we told you about Vladimir Vasak and Sebastian Guisset from Arte TV, French public television, doing a we documentary about Pittsburgh based on photographs taken by William Eugene Smith in the fifties. Here is the finished product!
Did you know.....that one of the things we do here at the URA is speak to different groups and students about economic development in Pittsburgh? Recently Acting Executive Director Robert Rubinstein did just that.
On Sept. 19, Robert was part of a panel with Steve Guy, Oxford Development Company president and CEO, and Dennis Astorino, CEO of Dennis Astorino Architecture and Interior Design, at a NAIOP Developing Leader Education Series event. Their topic was "Due Diligence: A Case Study of 350 Fifth Avenue." On Oct 23, Robert participated in "Economic Development 2.0: Bakery Square, a Pittsburgh Story," along with Todd Reidbord, Walnut Capital president, Nate Cunningham, ELDI's director of real estate and Councilman Bill Peduto at CMU's Heinz School. Their discussion focused on the intersection of real estate, urban planning and community and economic development.
On November 2, Robert and URA staff will be meeting with a large Chinese delegation here to learn about Pittsburgh and what we're doing right. Check out next month's newsletter for more on that and photos.