Boston’s Policy On Affordable Housing Inspires Pittsburgh Task Force

The ultra-chic Residences at Mandarin Oriental in Boston’s Back Bay — a development with its own concierge and marble foyers, as well as rents that range from $4,700 to $17,000 a month — has been the province of the rich and powerful since opening in 2008.

But not exclusively.

Thanks to a 15-year-old city policy, teachers, police officers and other modest wage earners live next door to the wealthy at the Mandarin and other luxurious residential developments in Boston.

Because of the city’s inclusionary development policy, the Mandarin houses 10 affordable apartments — comparable in size and quality to the others — with rents ranging from $1,365 to $2,340 a month. The lucky recipients were chosen by lottery.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2015/02/22/Boston-s-policies-on-affordable-housing-inspires-Pittsburgh-leaders/stories/201502220077

Plan To Relocate Pittsburgh Playhouse Downtown Approved; Millcraft Proposes Condos For Saks Site

The stage is set for the relocation of the Pittsburgh Playhouse to Downtown. City planning commission members unanimously approved plans for construction of new playhouse complex on Forbes Avenue Downtown today, clearing the way for its move from Oakland.

Approval came over the objections of preservationists who urged the commission to no avail to save three Forbes Avenue facades that will be relocated and integrated into the new complex under the plans advanced by Point Park University.

With today’s decision, Point Park intends to start construction in March with the demolition of three Forbes Avenue buildings and hopes to have the new complex ready for audiences in July 2017.

The $53 million project will feature a 550-seat main theater, a 200-seat adaptive theater with doors that will open to a plaza for outdoor performances, a 100-seat black box theater and supporting facilities.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2015/02/10/Millcraft-proposes-to-build-condos-garage-at-former-Saks-site-Downtown-Pittsburgh/stories/201502100184

Farm To Table To Sponsor ‘For The Love Of Pittsburgh’ Food Tasting

In the middle of a cold Pittsburgh winter, a Farm to Table Local Food Tasting might seem like an unfeasible event to pull off.

Even though local produce is hard to find now in this region, Erin Hart, director of health-benefit services for American HealthCare Group, the sponsor of Farm to Table, says it’s a great time of year “to slow down and savor the winter offerings of local farms and food producers.”

Those offerings include greens, squash, potatoes, apples, onions and garlic; shelf staples such as canned goods, honey and maple syrup; and all kinds of meats, eggs and cheeses.

The first “For the Love of Pittsburgh” Farm to Table Local Food Tasting will take place Feb. 8 at Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip District.

Read more: http://triblive.com/lifestyles/fooddrink/7509114-74/farm-local-pittsburgh#ixzz3QvMNhKKN
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As Banking Goes Mobile, Branch Closures Rip Through Local Economy

Phil Arlia has been dispensing medication in Pitcairn since 1968, but he was more than a pharmacist.

He was a kind of banker.

“We always had a courtesy of cashing customers’ paychecks, state checks, any kind of check,” said Arlia, owner of Phil’s Pharmacy on Broadway Boulevard.

But he stopped cashing checks when the borough’s only remaining bank, a Citizens Bank branch, closed last March. Arlia no longer had fast access to cash to replenish his register when it got low.

The branch closure made it more difficult for Pitcairn residents to access cash to spend at local businesses.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/7501236-74/bank-branch-banking#ixzz3QcH1zOMS
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Settlement Reached Between Monroeville, Former Manager

A former Monroeville manager will receive $45,000 in back pay in addition to retirement benefits as part of a settlement with the municipality.

In exchange, Lynette Mc­Kinney, 48, of Monroeville will drop lawsuits she filed over her termination a year ago, according to the terms of the settlement the Tribune-Review obtained Thursday under a Right-to-Know request. Old National Insurance Co. will pay McKinney $45,000 in back wages and $23,000 to her attorney, Joseph Chivers. Monroeville will pay $7,000 in insurance premiums directly to her.

Council approved the terms of the settlement this month.

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Monroeville Mall Quieter Today After Friday Night Fracas

No trouble was reported as of this afternoon at the Monroeville Mall, which reopened today under heightened police watch after a series of fights broke among 1,000-plus teenagers and young adults Friday night, prompting the facility to close early.

Two injuries not believed to be life-threatening were reported in the skirmishes that began on the first floor and moved upstairs, startling shoppers on the day after Christmas and drawing police from multiple communities. Authorities expected to cite at least one for disorderly conduct, in addition to a pair of arrests made earlier Friday over a domestic dispute.

Monroeville Police Chief K. Douglas Cole said today he knew of no connection between the disturbance at the mall in his community and problems reported Friday in at least two other malls elsewhere in the nation.

Some mall stores within Independence Center in Independece, Mo., were locked down Friday night after several hundred youths congregated inside, with some fights breaking out, The Kansas City Star reported.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/east/2014/12/27/Monroeville-Mall-quieter-today-after-Friday-night-fracas/stories/201412270116

Penn Hills Wants To Step Up Code Enforcement, Cite Violators

Penn Hills officials say they plan to be more proactive in code enforcement while they wait for litigation to free up funds for additional code enforcement officers.

“The current number of code enforcement officers is not acceptable for the needs within the municipality,” Deputy Mayor Sara Kuhn said at the Dec. 22 meeting.

At a public budget hearing attended by about 60 residents, nearly every speaker asked council to include funds in the 2015 budget to increase the number of code enforcement officers.

Penn Hills resident Sandy Sikora told council that more code enforcement officers are needed to help fight blight and code violation in the municipality.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/7435434-74/story#ixzz3Mk2LvFog
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Garfield Residents Plan Rally Over Bottom Dollar Site

Discount grocer Aldi is ignoring a community development group’s request for information on the future of one of the stores it is acquiring from a competitor, representatives of the group said.

The Bloomfield-Garfield Corp. plans to lead a rally Monday requesting that Aldi share its plan for the 6-month-old Bottom Dollar Food store at 5200 Penn Ave. in Garfield that will close by the end of the year.

“We want it to remain a grocery store so that our neighbors have access to food,” said Sarah Burke, communications and marketing manager for the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp.

In November, Belgium-based Delhaize Group announced that it planned to close its 66 Bottom Dollar Food stores, including the 20 in the Pittsburgh area, by the end of the year and sell the real estate and remaining lease liabilities for $15 million to Aldi Inc., which operates more than 1,300 stores in the United States.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/7413662-74/bottom-dollar-garfield#ixzz3MeRfMLhQ
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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

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 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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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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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.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/7027588-74/project-million-penndot#ixzz3H6NZKGOn
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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.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/6812082-74/percent-pay-employers#ixzz3FO9O6Fhr
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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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