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New looks for old steel sites

Tuesday, May 01, 2001

By Patricia Lowry, Post-Gazette architecture critic

By coincidence, two day-long charrettes will be held Saturday to help plan for the future of two struggling neighborhoods, both shaped by the steel industry’s rise and fall.

The closing of the LTV coke plant in Hazelwood, said Pittsburgh city planner Maureen Hogan, “was a real opportunity to think through new uses for the site, and also look at Hazelwood in general and figure out what kind of neighborhood it should it be, how we should position it, how to revitalize it and what resources should be directed to it. We want to take the neighborhood through a planning process to see what would be appropriate to the [LTV] site.”

Several buyers are interested in the 180-acre site, and the planning process will help the community articulate to buyers its goals for the site and the neighborhood.

This “strategic visioning process” will identify Hazelwood’s role in the region’s economy and establish guidelines for appropriate land uses and infrastructure improvements. It will focus on Hazelwood in the context of the region, the city and the surrounding neighborhoods — with an eye to strengthening connections to Oakland and the Pittsburgh Technology Center. It also will explore options for the redevelopment of Junction Hollow, to create more opportunities for both Oakland and Hazelwood.

The charrette will be facilitated by The Saratoga Associates, an architecture and planning firm from Saratoga Springs, N.Y. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (with registration at 8:30 a.m.) at Carnegie Mellon Research Institute, 700 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh Technology Center, followed by a neighborhood reception and celebration from 4 to 5 p.m.

For information, call: Hazelwood Initiative at 412-421-7234 or Wanda Wilson, city Planning Department, at 412-255-2223.

Meanwhile, in Homestead, local architects will lead a charrette that follows up on a recently completed comprehensive plan for Eighth Avenue, the town’s historic main street.

“The idea is to look at [making] connections and sparking ideas in the community for the next place they might go,” said Anne Swager, director of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Institute of Architects, one of the charrette’s three sponsors.

“We’re going to look at connections to the residential districts, to the Waterfront development and to the river, to the proposed Steel Valley Heritage Park, to the historic churches and the ethnic community,” Swager said. The charrette also will examine how to better link Eighth Avenue with its neighboring, parallel streets in the National Register Historic District.

The charrette will be held in the Moose Building, 112 E. Eighth Ave., from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the public invited to hear the results at 4 p.m.

On Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Library of Homestead, Duquesne University professor Bob Gleeson will launch the charrette with a talk about Homestead’s history and its impact on the town’s economic future. Gleeson heads Duquesne’s Institute for Economic Transformation.

For information, call the AIA at 412-471-9548.

Touring Beech and beyond

“Take a Walk on the North Side” is the title of a new walking tour of Allegheny West’s Beech Avenue. One of the city’s most architecturally intact and historically significant streets, Beech Avenue was home to the infant Gertrude Stein, to Mary Roberts Rinehart (who lived at 954 Beech when she published “The Circular Staircase” in 1908), and to many prominent 19th-century industrialists and businessmen and their families.

The tour, to be led by staff members from Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, also includes Calvary United Methodist and Emmanuel Episcopal churches. It will be given Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m. and continue year-round on the same day and time (except the second weekend of December). The tour costs $3 per person and begins and ends at Calvary United Methodist Church (Allegheny Avenue entrance). Large groups are asked to register in advance, but individuals can just show up.

The walking tour brochure also includes self-guided tours of Millionaires’ Row along Ridge Avenue and Brighton Road, the upper-middle-class houses of Lincoln and Galveston avenues, and nods to the Mexican War Streets and Manchester neighborhoods and North Side attractions.

The brochure is available upon request from two of its sponsors — the Landmarks Foundation at 412-471-5808, Ext. 516; and the Office of Cultural Tourism at 412-281-7711 or 800-359-0758. The Allegheny City Society and the Alcoa Foundation are also supporting the tour.

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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