POLICY 2021 YEAR-IN-REVIEW
This year, the Hill CDC has continued to work to bring the Greater Hill District Master Plan (GHDMP) to life by advancing the process of updating and adopting the GHDMP, supporting infrastructure funding requests for our commercial corridors through our Commercial Redevelopment Task Force, expanded Development Review Panel (DRP) membership and staffed the comprehensive community review of 12 projects, collaborated with neighboring communities to connect the Hill District, secured Lower Hill commitments from the City, participated in bi-weekly Executive Management Committee meetings to advocate for maximum returns to the Hill District, collaborated with First National Bank to bring a gap lending program to the neighborhood, kept the community informed about development projects, and more!
Keep reading for a full break down on what our Policy Team has been up to!
Greater Hill District Master Plan Update and Adoption
After several years of advocacy, we have finally launched the process of updating and adopting the Greater Hill District Master Plan (GHDMP). Upon adoption, the plan will become City policy that will guide both public and private investments in the area. Recommendations in the plan will include new land-use regulations, public programming, and transportation infrastructure. The plan area generally includes the neighborhoods of Crawford-Roberts, Middle Hill, Terrace Village, Bedford Dwellings, Upper Hill, and the Lower Hill. The process is co-chaired by Marimba Milliones, President and CEO, and Councilman Lavelle. As one of the first steps, the Hill CDC worked with the City of Pittsburgh and Councilman Lavelle to review proposals and select urban design and economic development consultants to support the process. We have continued to work collaboratively to steward the process, meet with consultants, and host monthly Steering Committee Meetings, as well as ongoing and regular community engagements.
View the GHDMP Update and Adoption engagment page here.
View the 2011 GHDMP here.
One of the coordinated forms of community engagement have been the Bi-Monthly Hill District Plans Meetings initiated by the Hill CDC in partnership with the Department of City Planning, government agencies, and project consultants. In addition, we collaborated with DOMI and Port Authority for transportation and mobility pop-ups around the neighborhood, as well as with Department of City Planning, DOMI, and Councilman Lavelle's office to host Speak + Treat, a COVID-19 safe day-long in-person engagement, at Rep. Wheatley's Annual Health & Wellness Weekend. Engagements have most recently shifted to public Action Team meetings for community, development, infrastructure, and mobility and will continue in to 2022.
Commercial Redevelopment Task Force
The Commercial Redevelopment Task Force (CRTF), established in May 2018 with Councilman Lavelle, continued coordinating and focusing technical expertise, community development actors, and financial institutions on infrastructure work necessary to facilitate development along the Centre Avenue Corridor. This monthly gathering consists of individuals representing over 20 Community Development, Government, Philanthropic, Financial, and City organizations to align resources and coordination of technical agents to facilitate commercial revitalization in the Hill District. The CRTF's work is guided by community plans such as the Greater Hill District Master Plan and the Centre Avenue Redevelopment and Design Plan, however, the focus is primarily to provide technical leadership and capitalization of community efforts.
The work of the CRTF established the foundation for Congressman Doyle's $8 million infrastructure funding requests to the federal government. These specific requests were for updates to the Chauncey Street Steps, as well as the streets and transit corridors of Centre, Wiley, and Bedford Avenues. This includes upgrades that improve use and safety like sidewalk repair and expansion, better transit stops, curb plantings, intersection bump outs, lighting, utility connections, and more.
The Hill CDC collaborated with Port Authority on submission of a $742,500 Planning Grant for the NEXTransit East/Central Pittsburgh Connection of Hill District, Strip District, Oakland, Hazelwood, Carrick, and Overbrook neighborhoods to immediately advance this corridor to the next phase of development, an initial planning study. The vision for this corridor is a new transit investment overcoming barriers posed by hillsides and rivers thus resulting in more efficient travel among and between Pittsburgh's eastern and southern neighborhoods. The investment could also create a new link with Port Authority's light rail transit system. The East/Central Pittsburgh Connection Planning Study will evaluate transit technology, route alignment, and station location alternatives.
NEXTranist is the County's 25-year, long-range transportation plan for Allegheny County. This connection was the #1 Priority Project in the plan, which you can read here.
The Hill CDC also collaborated with DOMI on a $15 million application to the Department of Transportation RAISE Grant for streetscape, intersection, sidewalks/ADA ramps, SmartSpine Signals, placemaking (signage, art, and public realm), and other transportation & mobility upgrades to Centre, Wylie, Bedford, and Webster Avenues, as well as Chauncey Street and Steps.
We are hopeful as we look to funding awards in 2022. It is through the consistency and work of the CRTF and its members over the last 3 years that we are seeing prioritization and focus for reinvestment and resources of this kind being brought to the Hill District community. This was the goal!
Development Review Panel (DRP)
The DRP is the Hill District's unified and comprehensive community review process that gives every Hill District resident a voice in the redevelopment of their neighborhood. It is a partnership with nine (9) Hill District Community Based Organizations: Hill Community Development Corporation (Hill CDC), Hill District Education Council (HDEC), Hill District Ministers Alliance (HDMA), Uptown Partners, Hill District Consensus Group (HDCG), the Center that Cares, Macedonia FACE, Neighborhood Resilience Project, and Ujamaa Collective that streamlines community level review while assuring transparency and sufficient community feedback.
The goal is not to stop development, but rather to facilitate development in alignment with the Greater Hill District Master Plan (GHDMP) by establishing a working mutual relationship between developers and the community. This process is designed to enhance a project, add value to it, create partnerships, find solutions, and build community consensus and support.
Each organizational member appoints residents to the DRP Committee to conduct the first level of review in the community review process. The DRP Committee's primary role is to determine whether there is sufficient alignment of the project with the GHDMP before it presents to the broader community.
In 2021, the DRP added 3 new member organizations and reviewed 13 projects - 7 approved, 4 under review, and 2 have declined/abandoned. As a sample of some outcomes to demonstrate the impact of the DRP, the DRP collaborated with the URA on the Centre Heldman Grocery Store site; collaborated with Big Tom's and University of Pittsburgh on MWBE participation, which resulted in the highest MWBE participation rate in University history; collaborated with the University of Pittsburgh on their Operating Engineers Apprenticeship, which resulted in 2 Hill District residents hired full time with benefits; and secured commitments for a public art commission and 30% affordable housing at 50% AMI for 346 Miller Street.
The Centre Heldman Grocery Store Process included a questionnaire that interested parties completed to give information to the community on their proposal, followed by a public presentation at a community meeting, and a community scorecard to determine which proposal had the most community support, as well as collect information about general preferences and shopping habits of the Hill District community.
Lower Hill and Other Policy Work
The Hill CDC continued to attend bi-weekly meetings with the Executive Management Committee (EMC) for the Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan (CCIP) advocating for maximum returns to the Hill District community in Lower Hill redevelopment. Although the Hill CDC was not able to secure a mutually executed signed agreement with the Lower Hill Development Team for implementation of community benefits under the CCIP commensurate with the scale of the development and public investment in the project, the Hill CDC was able to secure commitments from the City of Pittsburgh in the area of Opportunity Zone protections, cultural legacy, and coordinated community development. You can read the agreement here.
The Hill CDC continues to advocate for the following returns from the first phases of Lower Hill Redevelopment, Block G1 and Block G4: community ownership; job commitments beyond construction and hospitality; affordable commercial space for Black-owned businesses; micro-investing opportunity; recurring revenue stream for the Greater Reinvestment Fund, such as shared parking revenue; and an impactful wealth generation plan, such as baby bonds.
Independent from the EMC, the Hill CDC collaborated with First National Bank (FNB) to develop a $5 million gap lending program for real estate projects in the community with loans of up $400,000. FNB will be working in partnership with the Hill CDC and Neighborhood Allies to identify to identify and engage prospective participants.
Other Policy Work
The Hill CDC collaborated with Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership on their mobility plan to connect the Hill District and Downtown. The Downtown Pittsburgh Mobility Plan (DPMP) is designed to make the Downtown area easier to navigate for all who work in, live in, and visit the Golden Triangle. The plan analyzes data and collect public input to identify issues and prioritize opportunities to improve the Downtown experience for all users, especially during peak travel times. The plan identifies ways to improve the pedestrian, transit, biking, vehicle, and delivery experience while prioritizing future projects to ensure Downtown continues to be a vibrant economic, cultural, and transportation hub for our region. You can read the plan here.
The Hill CDC is collaborating with Clearway Energy on District Energy solution for the Hill District. District energy, although it has been around for decades, is being revisited as a solution to provide heating and cooling in cities of the future across the country by reducing end user costs, reducing construction and maintenance costs, increasing usable building space, providing jobs, and increasing sustainability and reducing CO2 emissions.
Bedford Dwellings Choice Neighborhood
The Hill CDC has also begun participation in Board Meetings for the second attempt at the Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant for the redevelopment of Bedford Dwellings.
Want to Support Our Work?
Please join our list of individual donors by contributing today!