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Homewood’s Cafe 524 Blends Community With Sustainability and Coffee

Pop City Media

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cafe 524

A collaboration of community leaders is aspiring to create a bright, sustainable place for business development and coffee in a former Homewood post office.

More than just a coffee shop, Café 524 hopes to spur the rebirth of the Homewood business district and serve as a catalyst for sustainability and community activities. The cafe will be located at 524 N. Homewood Ave.

The project has been a work in progress for the past year, bringing together diverse partners to make it happen: the National Black Masters of Business Administration Association (NBMBAA), URA, Urban Design Building Studio (UDBS), The Homewood Children’s Village and PJ Dick Incorporated.

“It’s very much a collaborative effort that grew organically out of dialogue and community meetings,” says John Folan, director of Carnegie Mellon’s UDBS, a studio of interdisciplinary architecture students who are working on the design. UDBS’s mission is to develop climate appropriate building technologies for neighborhoods in Allegheny County.

“It’s a remarkable opportunity for the students, enabling them to work with the community and a real client, giving them a very real sense of working on a project with real partners and multiple entities,” Folan adds.

Café 524 will be net-zero, powered by a geothermal energy system, and serve as a community meeting place and arts and culture destination . The NBMBAA hopes to buy the building from the URA and run a business incubator and real estate business on the second floor to stimulate local business development. The first floor will be leased as a for-profit coffee shop, drawing patrons from the nearby bus stop and neighborhoods.

The project is an extension of another ongoing neighborhood project, the Homewood Children’s Village.

Construction will begin this August and be completed by the spring of 2011. The URA has offered the partners $100,000 toward the predevelopment costs. The collaborators hope to attract the interest of foundations and corporate sponsors we well.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: John Folan, UDBS

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