State’s ‘Public-Private’ Transportation Deal Will Replace 53 Bridges In Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

A team of Pennsylvania-based subcontractors has three years to replace 558 structurally deficient Pennsylvania bridges, including 53 in Allegheny County.

PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch announced Friday that Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners would lead the department’s $899 million Rapid Bridge Replacement Project.

In the “public-private partnership,” the state retains ownership of the bridges, but the team is responsible for replacing the bridges and maintaining them for 25 years. Construction must begin in summer 2015.

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EDMC Loses $664M; Executives Receive Six-Figure Bonuses

Education Management Corp. lost $664 million during a difficult year in which the operator of for-profit colleges struggled with declining enrollment and intense regulatory pressure.

Compensation for CEO Edward West and CFO Mick Beekhuizen plummeted, mostly on the lower value of stock options. But two executives hired last year to handle legal and compliance matters, issues that have dogged the company, received six-figure bonuses that were guaranteed by their contracts.

The year was a difficult one for EDMC, marked by ongoing lawsuits over its recruiting practices and pressure from lenders to collect on $1.5 billion in debt. The lawsuits could prompt potentially hefty financial penalties and add to the company’s financial troubles.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/6981929-74/compensation-total-executives#ixzz3GVevqNX1
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Pittsburgh Study Shows City’s Vibrancy Has Returned

DSC01844Editor’s note:  We found this to be true during our visit there this summer. Pittsburgh has drastically changed over the last 10 years and the improvement is palpable.

Pittsburgh has transformed from an economically stagnant, transient city to “somewhere people want to come to and stay for a long time,” according to Doug Heuck, director of Pittsburgh Today.

A new report from the statistics-based project reflects this trend in increased home ownership, showing more residents are making the city their home.

The report shows the Pittsburgh region has the highest percentage of owner-occupied housing compared to 14 other metropolitan areas with comparable size and demographics, according to U.S. Census figures.

Factors like employment opportunities, education and housing have turned the city into “somewhere people want to come to and stay for a long time,” Mr. Heuck said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/10/18/Study-shows-Pittsburgh-s-vibrancy-has-returned/stories/201410180017

Sears At Pittsburgh Mills Mall In Frazer Closing In January

Pittsburgh Mills

Pittsburgh Mills (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  First Century III, now Pittsburgh Mills

The Sears store and Auto Center at the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills mall will close in mid-January, a spokesman for Sears Holdings confirmed this morning.

The closing is part of the company’s strategy to reduce expenses and speed up the transformation of their business model, said company spokesman Howard Riefs.

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Experts Worry Stagnant Wages Are Delaying Economic Recovery

Editor’s note:  Came across this article right after I posted about grocery store price increases. They certainly speak to each other.

Jim Talerico got a $900 raise this year, but he isn’t happy about it.

“It’s a terrible wage,” said Talerico, a part-time faculty member in Robert Morris University’s English department. “Now I’m making a whopping $14,400.”

It was the first pay raise in 10 years for the 54-year-old Ingomar resident. Even with the $13,500 he earns from his other part-time teaching job at Community College of Allegheny County, he said a barista job at Starbucks looks tempting. At least it would come with benefits.

Working Americans have had to make difficult choices — from canceling doctor’s appointments to cutting their grocery budgets — as their paychecks barely keep up with the cost of living.

Consumer spending drives 70 percent of economic activity, and wage stagnation has been a stubborn problem that might be holding back the recovery as other measures such as unemployment improve.

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Pittsburgh Region’s Political Leaders Again Consider Hotel Next To Convention Center

DSC01828It’s becoming the Lazarus of Downtown projects.

Left for dead a year ago, and several times before that, a plan to build a 500-room hotel attached to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center is being resurrected by top political leaders.

Mayor Bill Peduto said Thursday that he and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald have asked the Sports & Exhibition Authority to gauge the interest in and to study the feasibility of the proposed hotel, which would be built in a parking lot next to the convention center.

The full-service hotel, Mr. Peduto said, always was meant to be “the final part” of the convention center and to serve as its front entrance. “The building’s never been completed,” he said. “The hotel was supposed to be done.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/10/03/Political-leaders-revive-plan-for-hotel-attached-to-convention-center/stories/201410030099

McKeesport OKs Taking Vacant Homes Via Eminent Domain

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

McKeesport is expanding its vacant property recovery program to include parcels with structures.

Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the transfer of 10 properties to the Redevelopment Authority of the City of McKeesport through eminent domain. Parcels include empty lots and those with houses on them: 2718 Grandview Ave.; 621 Versailles Ave.; 1106 Ohio St.; 2105 Harrison St.; 2701 Riverview Ave.; 415, 417, 421 and 423 Twenty-Seventh Ave.; and 281 Rockwood St.

“This is another way to tackle the blight problem we have in the city,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “This process has typically been used to acquire vacant land adjacent to other properties. We’re now opening it to properties with structures on them when the purchaser has a plan.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesport/yourmckeesportmore/6882351-74/properties-vacant-ave#ixzz3F0tJF2yD
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Pittsburgh Airport-Area Development Exceeding Expectations

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

It wasn’t much more than two years ago that Richard Donley committed to erecting a new building near Pittsburgh International Airport every 18 months.

At the time, he had no tenants and there was plenty of empty office space in the corridor.

Talk about pressure.

“We were nervous about it,” said Mr. Donley, president of developer Chaska Property Advisors of Cranberry.

Not so much anymore.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/10/02/Pittsburgh-airport-area-development-exceeding-expectations/stories/201410020254

Airmall At Pittsburgh International Celebrates New Stores, Renovation

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

The place known for jet ways featured a runway Sept. 29.

The Airmall at Pittsburgh International Airport teamed with the Allegheny County Airport Authority for a special fashion event to mark the 15th anniversary of the airport authority and celebrate the completion of a $10 million renovation that created a new retail core in the center of the airport’s air-side terminal.

“Fly 2014: An Invitation to Fashion & Flair With Altitude” showcased the latest styles from the Airmall shops. The fashion show was the first event of this kind for the airport since it opened in 1992.

The show helped introduce new retail stores at the Airmall, including several international luxury brands. Italian-based Pinko recently opened its first U.S. store in the Airmall. Other stores include Furla, Lacoste, Armani Jeans, Hugo Boss, Tumi, Desigual, Collezioni — the Beauty Gallery and Bottega dei Sapori, an Italian specialty foods store.

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August Wilson Center To Be Sold To Foundations

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

Dollar Bank and the court-appointed receiver for the debt-ridden August Wilson Center for African American Culture struck a deal on Monday to sell the embattled Downtown cultural center to a coalition of foundations for $8.85 million.

The agreement nixes the proposed $9.5 million sale of the center to New York-based 980 Liberty Partners, a developer that wanted to build a 200-room luxury hotel atop the existing two stories and share space with the center.

The surprise announcement shortly before noon in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court halted what was supposed to be a two- to three-day trial over deed terms before it began. It marked a shift in course for court-appointed receiver Judith K. Fitzgerald, who had previously urged the judge to approve the sale to 980.

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Gov. Corbett Announces Redevelopment Grant For Former Saks Site, Oliver Building

Trinity Epsicopal with its neighbors, the Oliv...

Trinity Epsicopal with its neighbors, the Oliver Building and the old Gimbels (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Surrounded by an array of Pittsburgh civic and development interests, Gov. Tom Corbett stood in Mellon Square Monday to announce a $4 million state grant to seed the redevelopment of the Henry W. Oliver Building and its neighbor, the former Saks Fifth Avenue department store.

Mr. Corbett told a small crowd overlooking the planned developments that the Henry W. Oliver Building had special interest for him because he had worked in an office there during his career in private practice before joining the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Noting that he had been in the city last week to release state funds for a theater project for Point Park University, Mr. Corbett called Pittsburgh, “a model for redevelopment and smart growth.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/09/29/Governor-Corbett-announced-redevelopment-grant-for-Downtown-Pittsburgh/stories/201409290199

Sears Closing Store At Century III Mall In West Mifflin

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Sears store at Century III Mall is slated to close in early December.

A spokesman for Sears Holdings in Illinois said a liquidation sale is scheduled to start Friday.

“Store closures are part of a series of actions we’re taking to reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model,” said Howard Riefs, director of corporate communications for Sears Holdings, in an email.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/09/22/Sears-closing-store-at-Century-III-Mall-in-West-Mifflin-Pittsburgh/stories/201409220183

Peduto’s Budget Proposal Includes Tax Increase, Would End ‘Pittsburgh’s Financial Distress’

DSC01828Mayor Bill Peduto today presented a $505.9 million city budget proposal for 2015 that includes a real estate tax increase but ends what he characterized as two decades of budgeting shell games, putting Pittsburgh firmly on the path to financial solvency.

“Today is the beginning of the end of Pittsburgh’s financial distress,” Mr. Peduto said at a news conference where he was flanked by Sam Ashbaugh, the city’s new director of the Office of Management and Budget. “We’re overhauling our entire budget. We’re stripping it down and building it back up.”

Mr. Peduto said his staff worked with the city council, the city controller and the Pittsburgh’s financial overseers under the state Act 47 program for distressed municipalities to vet revenue forecasts.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/09/22/Pittsburgh-Mayor-Peduto-budget-proposal-includes-tax-increase-would-end-financial-distress/stories/201409220191

Merger Discussions Advance With Cornell And Moon School Districts

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Exploration of a possible merger between neighboring school districts Cornell and Moon Area will continue as long as both sides show interest in doing so.

Cornell Superintendent Aaron Thomas updated his school board Thursday night as to the direction of recent talks between the adjacent districts. He said he met last week with Curt Baker, Moon Area’s superintendent, for a “half strategic and half brainstorming” session as to how a merger could occur.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2014/09/19/Merger-discussions-advance-with-Cornell-and-Moon-school-districts/stories/201409190166

Pittsburgh To Display City’s Progress, Potential At Major Bike Conference Downtown

DSC01828Pittsburgh is already America’s most livable city, and a conference here this week might help it become even more so.

The city is hosting the Pro Walk/​Pro Bike/​Pro Place conference today through Thursday, welcoming more than 1,000 planners, architects, public health professionals, real estate professionals, educators and advocates from around the globe.

The conference could benefit Pittsburgh and the visitors.

“To have them learn from us and have us learn from them and all of their years of experience changing their cities into walkable, bikeable places is really really important for Pittsburghers but also for the people visiting Pittsburgh,” said Scott Bricker, executive director of Bike Pittsburgh.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/2014/09/08/Pittsburgh-will-display-progress-potential-at-major-bike-conference/stories/201409080015#ixzz3CkHIYKhK

National Tube Works Shuttered In McKeesport

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

At the last vestige of the old National Tube Works in McKeesport, 117 years of pipemaking came to a quiet end on Friday.

U.S. Steel‘s McKeesport Tubular Operations, an electric resistance weld plant producing standard line pipe, will be “idled indefinitely,” company officials said.

In small groups throughout the day, employees filed out, carrying literal pink slips marking the end of U.S. Steel’s operation there.

Several approached for comment waved off a reporter.

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Gateway Center Owner Confirms Complex Is For Sale

Gateway Center, downtown Pittsburgh

Gateway Center, downtown Pittsburgh

The Downtown office complex that became the face of Pittsburgh’s first Renaissance 60 years ago is for sale.

California-based Hertz Investment Group confirmed on Tuesday that it intends to sell the four buildings and parking garage it owns in Gateway Center at the tip of the Golden Triangle.

The complex consists of four skyscrapers known as Buildings One, Two, Three and Four and the garage on Liberty Avenue near Building Four.

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Mon Valley Narcotics Probe Leads To Multiple Arrests

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

Allegheny County police announced 17 felony arrest warrants were obtained in connection with an eight-month narcotics investigation in the Mon Valley.

Suspects reside in McKeesport, White Oak, Glassport, Clairton, Jefferson Hills and the North Side of Pittsburgh, according to a county police news release.

County detectives made numerous buys of heroin and crack cocaine, resulting in the seizure of 5 12 bricks of heroin, the release stated.

Nine of the 17 suspects were apprehended early on Friday by detectives and officers from the county, McKeesport and White Oak police departments; the other eight remained at-large as of presstime.

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McCandless OKs Land Development Plan For Potential Wal-Mart

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

McCandless gave an assist to Wal-Mart in its plan to build a store by speeding through the approval process, two attorneys said during a contentious council meeting Monday night.

“I wouldn’t be standing here if this wasn’t the most egregious consideration of a big box in my more than 32 years of experience,” said William Sittig, an attorney representing O’Hara-based Giant Eagle Inc.

The town council voted 5-2, with Cynthia Potter and Gerard Aufman Jr. against, to approve Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s subdivision application for a store in a Blazier Drive shopping center between Blazier’s intersections with Ingomar and McKnight roads. The council also voted 4-3, with Potter, Aufman and William McKim against, to approve a land development plan.

Wal-Mart plans to demolish two commercial buildings on Blazier Drive and replace them with a 150,000-square-foot supercenter that will include a grocery store, auto center and drive-through pharmacy.

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