Developer Reveals Buncher Plans For 400 Strip District Apartments, Townhomes

The Buncher Co. and a Cleveland-based developer said Thursday they are moving ahead with plans to build 400 residential units along the edge of the Allegheny River in the Strip District.

Buncher, which is based in the Strip, ultimately plans to pump more than $400 million into residential and office development on the riverfront, including $100 million on the 400 units.

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New Airports Chief Wants To Bring More Nonstop Flights To Pittsburgh

Christina Cassotis doesn’t see Pittsburgh International Airport becoming a hub again, but she does think there are opportunities to add more flights.

Ms. Cassotis, 50, most recently managing officer of the air services practice for ICF SH&E, a Boston-based aviation consultant, was introduced today as the new chief executive officer of the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

In her new job, she will be overseeing operations at Pittsburgh International in Findlay and the Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin.

But her main focus will be to bring more nonstop flights to Pittsburgh, a city that lost hundreds of flights and dozens of destinations when US Airways dropped its airport hub in 2004.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2014/12/16/New-Pittsburgh-airport-director-sees-opportunities-for-more-flights/stories/201412160190

National Aviary Launches Cam Focused On Penguins; Babies Due Soon

Pittsburghers will get a glimpse at the National Aviary’s two newest arrivals next week thanks to a high resolution infrared penguin camera positioned just above their nest.

Laid Nov. 9 and 11, two penguin eggs are expected to hatch sometime between Monday and Thursday.

Both TribLive and the Aviary website are hosting live video of the new parents, Sidney and Bette, who welcomed two other sets of penguins hatched at the aviary in 2012 and 2013.

Aviary live streaming camera, click here:  AviaryPenguins – Tribune-Review.

Westmoreland County Airport Authority Seeks $5M For Arnold Palmer Growth

Speaking to Westmoreland County Airport Authority members on Tuesday, state Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, recalled an event during which she ran into a representative of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, who said the region doesn’t have room for two major airports.

“I told him, ‘Go ahead and close down,’ ” she said, laughing.

She and her chief of staff, Rob Ritson, attended a meeting at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity because the authority wrote her office a letter in October requesting $5 million as a line item in the state transportation budget.

The authority wants the funding to aid a large-scale, $7 million project to expand the terminal building and a $15 million project to strengthen and widen the runway, said board member Don Rossi, finance committee chairman.

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Pittsburgh Council Makes It Official: McLay Named Police Chief

Pittsburgh City Council today approved acting police Chief Cameron McLay to head the city’s police bureau. Chief McLay has been serving as acting chief since September.

The unanimous vote with virtually no discussion came a day after a 2½-hour confirmation hearing for the 56-year-old former Madison, Wis., police captain, who is the first outsider ever hired to lead the department, according to Mayor Bill Peduto’s staff.

Chief McLay will be formally sworn in at 4 p.m. this afternoon in the mayor’s office.

Also today, council passed the mayor’s controversial plan to reorganize the Bureau of Building Inspection into a new Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections.

Read more:  http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/12/09/Pittsburgh-Council-approves-new-police-chief-reorganization-of-building-department/stories/201412090181

Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto Goes Undercover On CBS Reality Show To Air Dec. 21

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has his own prime time reality TV show.

Peduto donned a wig with shoulder-length gray hair and a scraggly, long gray beard to star on an upcoming hourlong episode of the CBS Emmy-winning show “Undercover Boss.” The episode is scheduled to air 8 p.m. Dec. 21.

“It will be the only chance that I ever have in my life to hear what people say about me directly to my face, but not knowing who I am,” he said Thursday.

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Blair County’s Operation Our Town Funds Law Enforcement And Rehab Efforts

In 2006, Michael A. Fiore was talking with a police officer about a shooting — the kind that never happened in Altoona before big-city drug dealers came to town.

The officer said his department didn’t even have bulletproof vests to wear on raids, Mr. Fiore recounted Tuesday. “I said, ‘Go out and get eight of them, and send me the bill.’”

Over the course of a year, that act of generosity morphed into the creation of Operation Our Town, in which Blair County business leaders pledge $10,000 each year to fight drugs.

Last year the organization backed Altoona’s schools, after school programs, youth sports groups, mentoring for first-time mothers and construction of a playground, among other efforts.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2014/12/01/Blair-County-s-Operation-Our-Town-funds-law-enforcement-and-rehab-efforts/stories/201411300093

Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene: Fast Food 2.0 Sizzling As New Restaurants Open

Look to this month’s openings for restaurants that are killing it in Pittsburgh. Last week, Burgatory opened its sixth location in Murrysville, the day after BRGR opened its fourth location in the Galleria of Mt. Lebanon. Earlier this month, Big Burrito opened the 13th Mad Mex in Erie. And in mid-December, the third location of Hello Bistro from parent company Eat’n Park will open Downtown.

These local restaurants are taking a page from national chains, borrowing from systems that streamline staff and menus, leading to higher profits than a traditional restaurant without the base ingredients of fast-food conglomerates. They also take measures to personalize experiences, blurring the line between fast food and full-service, offering satisfying meals and an inexpensive night out. And they’re doing better than ever.

Welcome to fast food 2.0, or maybe it’s 4.0, as the genre has been reinventing itself sinceMerriam-Webster added the definition in 1951. The trend here mirrors what’s happening around the country. Although the new breed doesn’t look like Wendy’s or taste like McDonald’s, it’s bringing fast food back in a big way. For years, the fast-food industry has received criticism for disconnecting people from community and culture as well as playing a role in the obesity epidemic. But the updated fast-food market is on a mission to revamp its image from villain to hero.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/life/dining/2014/11/27/Restaurant-Scene-Fast-food-2-0-sizzling-as-new-restaurants-open-here/stories/201411270057

Youngwood Gets 1st Full-Size Grocery In Nearly 20 Years

Editor’s note:  Glad to hear the residents of this Westmoreland County community have a proper grocery store.

The opening of Youngwood’s Shop ‘n Save — the first full-sized grocery in the borough in nearly 20 years — will occur next month.

“We’re planning on opening on Dec. 11,” said Jamie Fincke, vice president for Jamieson Family Markets. “We’ll have all the bells and whistles that Shop ‘n Save has and sale items.”

Jamieson Family Markets owns the store and 70,000-square-foot plaza in which the grocery is situated along South Third Street.

Beer Warehouse, also scheduled to open Dec. 11, an auto parts store and several smaller retailers are in the plaza.

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U.S. Steel To Relocate Corporate Headquarters On Former Civic Arena Site

English: The U.S. Steel Tower, located in Pitt...

English: The U.S. Steel Tower, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, with the new corporate logo of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

U.S. Steel will move to a new, five-story corporate headquarters on the former site of the Civic Arena in a deal that will provide a corporate anchor tenant for the 28-acre property where $440 million in development is planned, officials said Monday.

The company plans to lease the 268,000-square-foot building for 18 years, the company said at a news conference at Consol Energy Center.

U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi, Gov. Tom Corbett, Pitsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Penguins President and CEO David Morehouse attended the announcement against a backdrop of artist renderings that showed people strolling a plaza of concrete, grass and trees in front of a conceptualized version of the building.

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Iron Ore Price Decline Hurts U.S. Steel’s Cost Advantage Over Rivals

U.S. Steel

U.S. Steel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

U.S. Steel Corp.’s cost advantage over competitors from owning its iron ore mines is shrinking as the price of the commodity used to make steel sinks to a four-year low.

Analysts said iron ore’s decline to $70 a metric ton puts pressure on the Downtown-based steelmaker because competitors will benefit from lower raw material costs that U.S. Steel has long enjoyed. That pressure will mount as steel prices follow iron ore prices lower, especially helping competitors with lower production costs such as Nucor Corp., U.S. Steel’s chief rival.

“The U.S. Steel guys are going to have to work real hard to separate the revenue declines from external forces,” said John Tumazos of Very Independent Research of Holm-del, N.J. “Everything they’ve done in the last two years to cut costs was necessary, but everything points to more cost cuts.”

Under CEO Mario Longhi’s leadership, the Downtown-based steelmaker has closed mills, saved $500 million by halting an iron ore expansion project in Keewatin, Minn., relinquished control of its money-losing Canadian unit and saved $495 million under its Carnegie Way initiative to cut costs and return to profitability.

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Higher Property Taxes In Westmoreland County Ruled Out Despite $15M Budget Gap

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Westmoreland County commissioners said Thursday that there won’t be a property tax increase next year despite a projected deficit of $15 million.

Commissioners revealed a preliminary $340 million budget for 2015 that anticipates declines in revenue and increases in proposed expenses, offset by dipping into the county’s surplus.

If enacted, the budget proposal would deplete the surplus fund to $10.7 million.

The surplus fund should end this year at $25 million.

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Light Up Night, Games, Shows, Concert To Attract 400,000 To Downtown Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh from Mt. Washington

Pittsburgh from Mt. Washington

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership expects more than 400,000 people to jam Downtown on Friday night as Light Up Night coincides with a Penguins game, WPIAL championships at Heinz Field and a crowded Petersen Events Center in Oakland likely triggering traffic headaches and a parking shortage.

The Andy Warhol Bridge will close at 9 a.m.; the Roberto Clemente Bridge will close at 10 a.m., both remaining closed until midnight. A host of roads Downtown will close in the afternoon.

“With Light Up Night, we encourage people to use public transportation. People can look at parking on the North Shore and taking T,” said Leigh White, vice president of marketing and communications for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

“There’s a lot of different, good options like parking at Station Square. People can come in early and have dinner, and it’s a great day to take in other things around town.”

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Pittsburgh Police Beef Up Presence On Streets For City’s Light Up Night

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A wave of gun violence around the city and the possibility of unrest here stemming from events in Ferguson, Mo., have Pittsburgh police ramping up staffing and training in time for Light Up Night on Friday, when hundreds of thousands of people will converge on Downtown.

Pittsburgh police acting Chief Cameron McLay said Wednesday he plans to put patrol officers on 12-hour shifts to handle whatever arises in the next two weeks. He noted the recent escalation in deadly shootings in city neighborhoods and the impending announcement of whether a police officer will be indicted in the shooting death of an unarmed black man in Missouri.

“Quite frankly, it’s an opportunity to get my officers out and more engaged with the public,” McLay said at a news conference at police headquarters in the North Side. “To me, there are no wasted resources when I’m calling extra bodies in early. If everything is going well, it’s a great chance for my officers to celebrate with the community.”

Brandi Fisher, president of the Alliance for Police Accountability, said she spoke with McLay by phone Wednesday about the potential for a local response to a grand jury decision on whether to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9 in Ferguson.

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U.S. Steel Reorganizes Operating Units

U.S. Steel Tower in downtown Pittsburgh, Penns...

U.S. Steel Tower in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

U.S. Steel Corp. is reorganizing its three operating units to focus on industries the company serves, the latest phase in the Downtown-based company’s Carnegie Way program to cut costs, boost revenue and return to profitability.

As part of the new management structure, U.S. Steel is realigning its North American Flat-Rolled division to focus on five markets: automotive, consumer, industrial, service centers and mining.

“These commercial entities will put our company in a stronger position to be best-in-class in product innovation, customer service and solutions, as well as steel manufacturing,” CEO Mario Longhi said.

The company is renaming its Tubular Products unit Energy Solutions, reflecting its focus on providing steel pipe to the booming oil and gas industry. And its operations in Europe were renamed U.S. Steel European Solutions.

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2 Dead, 1 Injured In Early-Morning Shootings In Sheraden

Locator map with the Sheraden neighborhood in ...

Locator map with the Sheraden neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Police are investigating if the same shootout early Monday in Sheraden is responsible for leaving two men dead and a third critically injured, Pittsburgh police said.

Police found a body face down in between two houses in the 2700 block of Zephyr Avenue shortly after 8 a.m. The discovery came hours after a teenager was killed in a shooting incident a block away on Glen Mawr Avenue.

Shortly after the 12:20 a.m. shooting, a 24-year-old male walked into Allegheny General Hospital, North Side, with gunshot wounds and is in critical condition, police said.

Police believe the fatalities and the injury are likely related but are conducting more interviews before saying all three are linked, said Lt. Daniel Herrmann.

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Dilapidated Buildings Hinder Greensburg Downtown Growth

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leaky roofs and outdated structures are one big reason why about 20 percent of downtown Greensburg storefronts are vacant, despite businesses clamoring to move in, according to the Greensburg Community Development Corp.

The nonprofit plans to purchase four of the dilapidated buildings within the next year, and pursue private and public grants to fix them up and resell them to private owners, said Steven Gifford, its executive director.

Downtown real estate is in demand, with more businesses wanting to move into storefronts than there is space available, according to Gifford. Despite this, about one-fifth of the city’s 138 storefronts remain vacant, often because they are too run down or unsafe to occupy.

The development corporation has identified seven buildings with leaking roofs, and another five that cannot be occupied because of building code deficiencies, such as missing sprinkler systems and staircases.

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New Stanton Turnpike Plaza 1st To Offer Compressed Natural Gas

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Motorists who drive vehicles that use compressed natural gas can fill up at the New Stanton plaza of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Turnpike commission officials Thursday kicked off the opening of three CNG fueling dispenser stations at the plaza.

The New Stanton plaza is the first of the commission’s 17 plazas to offer the fuel.

“It’s an outstanding day and supports what we’ve been trying to do the last 75 years: to push for innovation,” said Mark Compton, chief executive officer.

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Charleroi Envisions Riverfront Destination As Focal Point Of Business Redevelopment Plan

Map of Washington County higlighting Charleroi.

Map of Washington County higlighting Charleroi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Imagine that, another town with a vision and a plan…with the rash of shootings going on in Pottstown again….a vision and a plan would be in order.  Just sayin’…

Donn Henderson sees the Charleroi riverfront development he wants 25 miles away in Pittsburgh.

“It’s not rocket science. There are plenty of examples,” said Henderson, manager of the borough, which will announce a redevelopment plan for the central business district Thursday. “Just look at the North Side. That’s a great model. The South Side, too.”

Re-creating Pittsburgh’s successes deep in Washington County‘s Mon Valley will not be easy. But continuing to watch the once-thriving industrial and retail community lose population amid growing drug and crime problems certainly will accomplish nothing, Henderson said.

“We cannot continue that trend and survive,” he said.

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Bottom Dollar Food Stores To Close By Year’s End And Be Sold To Aldi

The Belgium-based owner of Bottom Dollar Food stores plans to close its 66 store locations in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia markets and sell the assets to discount food competitor Aldi Inc. for about $15 million.

Aldi said the purchase is part of an expansion plan that will add 650 stores nationwide by the end of 2018.

Delhaize Group of Brussels said all stores are expected to remain open as Bottom Dollar Food stores until yearend. After that, banner will be retired. The sale of stores and leases to Aldi is expected to be completed by March 31.

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