Response to "Hill District Still Waiting for Something Great to Happen"

Lower Hill Meeting #1

This is a response to "The Hill District: Still waiting for something great to happen", first published in Public Source at


Join us in redeveloping the Hill District.

Anyone would be hard-pressed to find a more engaged group of citizens than Hill District residents. Not only are residents not "Still Waiting for Something Great to Happen", but residents are making great things happen.

Daily, the Hill CDC tips its hat to the residents who volunteer countless hours of their free time to serve and foster the interests of the area. For instance, community members have been integrally involved in developing a coordinated community development strategy for the Lower Hill District, so that what ultimately happens in the Lower Hill connects with the broader neighborhood - and not just streets, but economic development. Wealth building, affordable housing, strong opportunities for minority businesses, workforce training, land ownership for residents and institutions and more - that's everyday conversation for many in our community. For example, in just six months since the Pittsburgh Penguins announced their desire to submit their Preliminary Land Development Plan to City Planning for the Lower Hill District, there have been more than 100 attendees at each of five community meetings. Residents have articulated concerns, and expressed their interests in realizing a new, transformative model of community development through this effort. Go Hill District!

We must honor the work of existing business owners who have endured a struggling market, and are preparing to participate in the future development of the neighborhood. They are not waiting - they are working.

We honor the non-profits and faith institutions who understand the existing assets of our neighborhood, yet they continue to strengthen the core asset - the people.

We recognize the elected officials, corporate partners, philanthropic organizations, partnering institutions who are delivering real and tangible investments into this neighborhood.

None of this is by accident, but rather because the Hill District has an active, knowledgeable and engaged citizenry and leadership that gets it, and is willing to put in the long hours of work towards the dream. Residents and leaders of the Hill know real opportunity, and also know when they are simply considered a fix-in on a "sandwich" between Downtown and Oakland. The Hill knows its strategic location is a key asset, but it is not the only one.

Our real challenge as a community, city and region is successfully putting together the difficult puzzle of market-driven development, community-centric development, cultural legacy and economic parity. The Hill is working at it everyday, but we can use more help.

Deeper regional partnerships, catalytic public-private partnerships, sustainable development investment funds that signal a true understanding of the capital resources necessary to transform neighborhoods is what many Hill District residents are waiting to see happen. Now, wouldn't that be "great"?