Pittsburgh Spice Company Moves into Vacant School in the West End
In 2014, Design Center Pittsburgh received funding through the office of Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith and the Urban Redevelopment Authority to develop an adaptive reuse and market study for four vacant schools in Pittsburgh's West End communities in partnership with the Southwest Pittsburgh Community Development Corporation. The residents provided a clear mandate to envision the building reuse as more than just housing. We are excited to announce that the Schaeffer School in Crafton Heights is now home to the Pittsburgh Spice Company! This family-owned company founded in 1967 had outgrown their 10,000 sqft building in the Strip District, and the Schaeffer school was a perfect fit. Congratulations to District 2 residents and all the project partners, including Councilwoman Smith, the Mayor's Office, Southwest Pittsburgh CDC, the URA, Fourth River Development, and Springboard Design, who worked so hard to keep this Pittsburgh institution in the city.
One Northside HUBCAP
Property Assessment for Creative Industry Clusters
In partnership with the Buhl Foundation'sOne Northside Initiative, Urban Innovation21, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Design Center surveyed all 1,445 commercial parcels in the Northside to assess the physical space for creative industries and examine how hubs for makers and entrepreneurs could spur economic development. Design Center staff developed a commercial property assessment tool, and using Loveland Technologies as a platform, mobilized its network of architects and design professionals to assess properties for current conditions including gathering important data about use, commercial amenities, and vacancy. This type of assessment helps communities in the Northside better understand their commercial assets and resources, and identifies the available stock of commercial activity and its value. We are working with current partners and the Riverside Center for Innovation to connect makers and entrepreneurs with available spaces in the community, and develop commercial district strategies to different communities in the Northside.
Clairton Community Main Street Design Charrette
The City of Clairton recently emerged from the state’s Act 47 designation of financial distress and is working to explore new reinvestment opportunities for their Main Street district. As part of the plan, Economic Development South, the Jefferson Regional Foundation, and Design Center Pittsburgh worked together to develop a data, design and implementation plan for the commercial corridor in Clairton. Design Center convened 45 Clairton residents to participate in the "Clairton Community Visioning Design Charrette." During the charrette, three architecture firms (AE7, Front Studio Architects, and LGA Partners) and Design Center staff provided their design expertise to help residents visualize and rethink the future of the commercial district. Through this process, community leaders highlighted the main concerns that should inform development plans moving forward. It developed a common vision for city leaders, designers, and community partners for the future of the corridor. The work that was done during the community visioning design charrette is only the beginning in a long term process of transforming the physical and social character of the community.
Design Center Pittsburgh is currently supporting a Facade Enhancement and Activation Program for business and property owners in East Deutschtown along East Ohio Street. The program is funded through the Buhl Foundation'sOne Northside Initiative and includes representatives from the East Allegheny Community Council, Northside Leadership Conference, and the Northside Community Development Fund. This pilot provides commercial property and business owners in the East Ohio Street area the opportunity to apply for a matching grant of up to $8,000 to improve their facade. Using the "Paris to Pittsburgh" model, originally developed in partnership with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, the funding will be used for building and outdoor space improvements that make East Ohio Street a more vibrant business district. If you are or know a commercial property owner in East Deutschtown, and you're interested in applying, email us here.
Inside the city's most iconic buildings
During the first weekend of October, the doors of many iconic Downtown buildings opened for the first time for free tours, showcasing the spectacular interior architecture that is usually off-limits to the general public. The sites that were included in this year's first Doors Open Pittsburgh event varied from art galleries, to churches, hotels, offices, and government buildings. With 40 Downtown sites included in the event, the weekend saw 36,262 visits and participants were able to learn the rich histories of the buildings and engage directly with volunteer docents who shared interesting stories. Doors Open Pittsburgh was supported by Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, AIA Pittsburgh, Green Building Alliance, Design Center Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, and the Pittsburgh Downtown CDC.
2nd Annual Blight Bootcamp
On October 7th and 8th, Pittsburgh's Blight Working Group, a partnership between Design Center Pittsburgh, Neighborhood Allies, Office of the Mayor Peduto, Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, Urban Redevelopment Authority, and GTECH Strategies, hosted the 2016 Blight Bootcamp Conference in Hazelwood. The purpose of the event was to empower residents with tools to flight blight in their communities. Design Center presented about the value of design and how residents can use design and rehab to stabilize properties. During other sessions, attendees had the opportunity to hear from speakers, including residents and technical assistance partners, with experience in blight remediation. For more information on getting design assistance for your own rehab project click here.