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Drive-through proposal prompts turnout

By Richard Byrne Reilly
Thursday, June 29, 2006

Opponents of a proposed Walgreens drive-through in Point Breeze blasted developers and urged City Council to reject a request to alter zoning laws that would permit three 100-year-old homes to be demolished for the project.
“We want to see viable, creative development in our neighborhood, not a condescending lesson about what is good or bad for it,” said Bill Anthes, who recently moved to Pittsburgh with his wife to pursue a doctoral degree at Carnegie Mellon University.

Protesters packed a meeting Wednesday at the City-County Building, Downtown, waving fluorescent red and green placards that said, “Don’t Re-Zone Park Place.” Resident Joan Rabinowitz handed out freshly baked cookies bearing the same slogan.

Park Place residents said rezoning the site at Penn and South Braddock avenues would drive down property values and hurt the character of the neighborhood, where many homes are 100 years old. Paradise Development Group wants to demolish three houses for a two-lane drive-through developers say will alleviate traffic congestion.

City planners voted to allow the rezoning. Council will decide next week whether to approve it, said Council President Luke Ravenstahl.

Brandon Miles, a project manager in Pittsburgh for the Tampa, Fla.-based Paradise Development Group, said he has tried to accommodate Park Place residents’ concerns and has worked to meet city code requirements for the project. Paradise has signed letters of intent with the three families to sell the homes that would be razed, Miles said.

“We’ve worked to protect the welfare and integrity of the neighborhood,” Miles said.

Asked what might happen if council rejects the rezoning, Miles said he was “reserving judgment until a decision is made.”

Arnold Horovitz, a land-use attorney representing the Greater Park Place Neighborhood Group, said residents don’t necessarily oppose a Walgreens in the neighborhood, just the drive-through.

The demolition, he said, would be “out of character with the neighborhood.”

Arch Pelley, an urban planner who attended the hearing, said the issue comes down to compromise.

“The question is, ‘What is the best way to develop this site?’ ” he said.

Richard Byrne Reilly can be reached at or (412) 380-5625.

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