Planned Smallman Place Condos In Strip District Selling Fast

Sales agreements are in place for about two-thirds of the 36 condominiums that a suburban Philadelphia developer is planning in the Strip District, months before construction is set to begin.

The Smallman Place condos went on the market in the first week of April.

“If you have the right project at the right place and the right price, you can be successful,” said developer Jack Benoff of Solara Ventures Inc.

Benoff has been one of Pittsburgh’s most active condo developers in recent years. He converted 941 Penn Ave., Downtown, and the Otto Milk building in the Strip District into condo buildings that sold out quickly, with the exception of a $1.8 million penthouse at Otto Milk that’s now under agreement.

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Community College Of Allegheny County Puts $22M Into Building Renovations At North Side Campus

Some buildings at Community College of Allegheny County’s Allegheny Campus in the North Side are showing their age, which is prompting a $22 million renovation.

One of the goals of the Ridge Avenue Revitalization Project is for students to come to brighter, more modern spaces, said Donna Imhoff, president of the Allegheny Campus.

“We want them to have a really positive experience,” she said.

The three-phase revitalization project will include work at the Physical Education Building, West Hall and the Foerster Student Services Center.

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Transportation Challenges Rife As Pittsburgh Focuses On Making Fixes

Lori Minetti often feels stranded in her Carrick home.

The closest bus stop used to be across the street. Now it’s almost a mile away, because Port Authority of Allegheny County eliminated the 50 Spencer route four years ago.

She walks one of the farthest distances a city resident must go to catch a bus. It seems even farther to Minetti, who has an arthritic back.

“It’s kind of cloistered me,” said Minetti, 48, a former temp for Downtown companies who no longer works. Her husband uses the couple’s only car for his job as a maintenance worker in Munhall.

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Development Could Soon Be Booming In West End

Pittsburgh’s building boom, centered for years on Downtown and East End neighborhoods, is spreading into the West End.

Developers are focusing on Banksville Road where nearly $3 million is being spent to build a hotel, an office building and an expansion of offices for an engineering firm.

“The city of Pittsburgh overall is doing well in terms of development,” said City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, who represents West End communities. “Banksville has good access to Downtown, the Parkway (West), the airport and suburbs.”

A Comfort Inn and Suites is going up near a Days Inn along lower Banksville Road. The $2.7 million project includes a four-story hotel building with 69 rooms and 64 parking spaces, according to Pittsburgh Planning Commission records.

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Heinz Endowments Looks To Smart Urban Planning For Pittsburgh Moment

The Heinz Endowments is redirecting resources toward smart urban planning to seize upon an “amazing moment” in Pittsburgh’s development, foundation president Grant Oliphant said Thursday.

A citywide building boom, an infusion of young professionals and heightened partnerships between foundation and civic officials are among factors jump-starting conversations about long-term planning strategies.

“Suddenly, in 2015, Pittsburgh is a place to be,” Oliphant said. “There is an energy in Pittsburgh around development that makes possible things that were really not possible to push forward 10 years ago.”

Oliphant’s remarks emerge 18 months after a major personnel shakeup at The Heinz Endowments, Western Pennsylvania’s second largest foundation with more than $1.5 billion in net assets. A string of executive departures in 2013 left the foundation without an executive director for eight months, amid an apparent clash between the Heinz family and departing staffers over the foundation’s ties to an industry-backed environmental group.

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PPG Axes 1,700 Jobs As Part Of Global Restructuring

DSC01801PPG Industries Inc. is trimming 4 percent of its global workforce as the world’s largest paint and coatings company tries to reduce costs related to a spate of recent acquisitions.

The Downtown-based company said it was cutting 1,700 jobs as part of a restructuring that also includes reducing production capacity. About 40 of PPG’s 2,500-person workforce in Pittsburgh will lose jobs, the company said.

PPG is aiming to achieve $100 million to $105 million in annual pretax savings by 2017 from the restructuring. Further details of the capacity reductions were not available, the company said.

PPG spent about $2.4 billion buying companies last year, part of a long-term strategy to grow through acquisitions.

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UK Watchdog Fines BNY Mellon $185 Million

Bank of New York Mellon will pay a $185 million penalty to British regulators for failing to keep customer money safe during the financial crisis.

The fine brought by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority settles an investigation into the bank’s practices between November 2007 and August 2013.

The British watchdog said the bank’s failure to “record, reconcile and protect safe custody assets” during that period “was particularly serious given the systemically important nature of the firms.”

The world’s largest custody bank, BNY Mellon safeguards financial assets for clients, including large institutions.

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Two Years In The Making, Market Square Grocery Store’s Opening Is Near

On a cloudy and cool spring morning, Downtown Pittsburgh’s first grocery in five years was emerging from its shell like a butterfly from its cocoon.

Some workers stocked a freezer with frozen shrimp, lobster langostino and other seafood. Others handled deliveries of cheeses and other goods. Yet others trained to use the cash register.

At the back of 435 Market St., bottles of imported red and white Italian wines beckoned visitors. Pastas, cereals, chocolates, pickles, olives, teas, cookies, jelly, potato chips and sauces crammed the shelves.

“ ‘Finally’ is the word,” developer Ralph Falbo said as he talked to two friends and surveyed the scene.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2015/04/15/Market-Square-to-get-grocery-store-soon/stories/201504150099

Windows Smashed, ‘A Lot Of Damage’ In Shadyside Protest

Pittsburgh police are trying to identify a group of about 30 people who donned masks and ran through Shadyside on Friday night, smashing the windows of more than a half-dozen businesses and an unknown number of automobiles.

There were no injuries in the vandalism spree that began shortly after 8:40 p.m., when police first spotted the group, marching peacefully near Liberty Avenue and Baum Boulevard in Bloomfield, holding candles and telling officers they were holding a funeral procession for a friend, city Public Safety Department spokeswoman Sonya Toler said.

A few minutes later, there was chaos a few blocks away as the group turned onto Walnut Street and marched past the shops and restaurants filled with patrons.

“I saw a group of nine or 10 guys. I couldn’t see their faces because they all were wearing hoodies,” said Miranda Leanos, 18, a waitress at the Thai Place Restaurant.

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Pittsburgh URA Set To Approve Housing Developments In Larimer, East Liberty

A new day is dawning in Larimer, with the city getting ready to plant the first seeds in a massive effort to revitalize the neighborhood with the help of a $30 million federal grant.

Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority board members are poised to give the go-ahead Thursday for construction of 85 mixed-income residential units in Larimer and East Liberty, the first phase of a broader $400 million revitalization strategy.

The townhouses and apartments will be built at the site of the former Liberty Park site and Omega Place in East Liberty and the former Auburn Towers site in Larimer.

They were made possible in part because of a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant awarded last year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Pittsburgh was only one of four cities in the country to win a grant. Forty-three had applied.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2015/04/08/URA-set-to-approve-Larimer-housing-project/stories/201504080115

1Killed, 3 Injured In Hill District Shooting

One person died and three were wounded in two shootings Sunday evening in the Hill District, authorities said.

Police at the Zone 2 Station on Centre Avenue heard gunfire from an area near Dinwiddie and Wick streets about 5:20 p.m. and went to investigate, Public Safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said.

Officers found two men wounded at the scene and another dead with a wound in the torso on nearby Kearney Way, a tiny alley between Dinwiddie and the parking lot of a Shop ‘n Save grocery store.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the man who died as Christopher Richardson, 20, of West Oakland.

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New Beginning: Allentown’s Warrington Avenue Poised For A Makeover

The crowd inside — and eventually outside — 816 E. Warrington Ave. one recent evening gathered to showcase a newly renovated Allentown property. The former Ken’s Variety had been vacant for more than 20 years.

As the evening deepened, “Open in Allentown,” a “pop-up” event with a garage-style glass door rolled up, became a stew of neighborhood leaders, investors, consultants, residents of Allentown and nearby neighborhoods mingling over cocktails and catered nibbles.

The event and mix of people signified what Hilltop Alliance executive director Aaron Sukenik called “Warrington Avenue in its reinvention phase.”

One mile from Downtown (Pittsburgh) and cradled by the hot markets of Mount Washington and the South Side Slopes, Allentown is riddled with residential blight, and 35 percent of its commercial properties are vacant. But the newly repaved Warrington Avenue is on the cusp of a transition from being seedy to being seen.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/04/06/New-beginning-in-Allentown-Warrington-Avenue-poised-for-a-makeover/stories/201504060015

Disappointing Conclusion To Bald Eagles’ Breeding Season

In Hays there will be no eaglets. Late Friday the Western Pennsylvania Audubon Society confirmed that the second of two eggs laid a month ago was no longer viable. The first broken egg was pushed out of the nest March 14.

“We’ve been watching all day — their behavior seemed unusual, kind of baffling,” said Audubon executive director Jim Bonner. “A screen shot from 10:25 a.m. looked conclusive to me. It looked like a broken, flattened egg being lifted out of the nest. I doubt that the first broken egg would look that intact after two weeks. We are unfortunately at this time saying the egg looks to be lost.”

It was a disappointing conclusion to the bald eagles’ third breeding season. The 6 1/2-year-old female laid the first egg Feb. 17 and the second Feb. 20, to the glee of thousands of eagle watchers in Pittsburgh and beyond watching streaming video from a wildlife camera mounted near the nest.

This is the second year the state Game Commission has permitted the camera system, donated by the Murrysville-based PixController security camera company, and this year managed by the local Audubon chapter.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2015/03/27/No-Hays-eaglets-in-2015/stories/201503270393

Bodies Of Kochu, Gray Found In Ohio River In West Virginia

The hearts of the families of two missing Pittsburgh men were broken Thursday when they learned that bodies recovered from the Ohio River in West Virginia last week were those of their loved ones.

The deaths of Andre Gray, who had been shot to death, and Paul Kochu, who might have drowned, “are not related” and are being investigated separately, city police Cmdr. RaShall Brackney said at a news conference Thursday night.

“I’m thankful to God for bringing my son home,” said Gray’s mother, Victoria Gray-Tillman, as she and other family members stood next to Brackney. “Now I can have closure. … I knew all along the Lord had my son.”

City Public Safety Department spokeswoman Sonya Toler said Hubert Wingate, 30, who has been in the Allegheny County Jail since Feb. 21 on unrelated fugitive from justice charges, has been arrested for the slaying of Gray.

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Pittsburgh Bald Eagles’ Egg Expected To Hatch This Week

For birdwatchers and fans of the great outdoors, 2014 was a red letter year when a pair of nesting bald eagles along the Monongahela River in Hays successfully hatched and reared three young eagles.

The pair started with two eggs this year but lost one about a week ago when it broke. The remaining egg is expected to hatch sometime this week.

Though it is normal for eagles to hatch one or two eggs each spring, eagle sightings remain something of a novelty in the region. Bald eagle fans regularly flock to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail just west of the Glenwood Bridge to watch the pair on the hillside above Route 837.

Worldwide, millions keep tabs on the eagles, day and night, by way of a video stream on the Pittsburgh Bald Eagles website ( http://triblive.com/news/projects/pittsburgheagle)

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On The Horizon: PNC’s $400M Tower Nears Completion

Picture of PNC Tower in July 2014

Picture of PNC Tower in July 2014

PNC Financial Services Group’s $400 million skyscraper in Downtown is nearly 80 percent complete and on track to be finished in the fall, the company said Friday.

Mayor Bill Peduto said he welcomes “the addition of their new tower to our celebrated skyline,” along with the financial giant’s continued investment in Pittsburgh.

PNC’s Downtown presence includes the 30-story One PNC Plaza, 34-story Two PNC Plaza, 23-story Three PNC Plaza and five-story PNC Firstside Center on First Avenue.

Construction of the skyscraper, dubbed The Tower at PNC Plaza, began in spring 2012. A PNC-run website dedicated to the project says The Tower is 78 percent complete, with work to enclose the building about 90 percent done and interior construction about 60 percent finished. The latter work is expected to be completed in the spring.

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Stylebook Snapshot: Pittsburgh Knit And Crochet Festival Embraces Growth With New Venue

What do you compare to covering the Andy Warhol Bridge with a rainbow of 500-plus knitted and crocheted blankets as part of the Knit the Bridge fiber arts installation in 2013? How about a 78-foot “waterfall” of yarn cascading along the walls of a Downtown hotel?

This spectacle will be among the sights next weekend at the 11th annual Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival, which will include a fashion show, design contest, giveaways and more than 80 classes and hands-on activities. This year, the event also will attract a film crew to Pittsburgh that will tape a segment about the city and its fiber arts scene for a reality television show.

For the first time, the festival will be held Downtown at the Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh hotel to accommodate its growing attendance. Last year, about 3,500 people came out for the festivities at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Marshall, where the festival took place for several years.

“We have people who come from across the country to attend,” says festival organizer Barbara Grossman. “It’s become like a retreat.”

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http://www.post-gazette.com/life/fashion/2015/03/22/Stylebook-snapshot-Pittsburgh-Knit-and-Crochet-Festival-embraces-growth-with-new-venue/stories/201503220015

Naturi Startup Of Pittsburgh Created Out Of Desire For Better Yogurt

Aditya Dhere and Anes Dracic got their idea for a yogurt company when they couldn’t find what they wanted on supermarket shelves.

The recent MBA graduates of Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business ate a lot of yogurt and enjoyed making up recipes with fruit and nuts, but they wanted an organic, high-protein option.

“By being both active and engaged in physical activities … (we) thought, ‘Hey, why not give food a try and change the landscape a bit?’ ” Dracic said. “So we came up with our own brand.”

Naturi, based in the Strip District, was incorporated in February. The pair envision their yogurt as an artisanal alternative to Stonyfield, Chobani, Fage and Yoplait Greek yogurts filling grocery shelves. It tastes better, they said, because it is made with milk from grass-fed cows.

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Pittsburgh To Participate In Federal Program To Improve Police-Community Relations

The Justice Department picked Pittsburgh and five other cities as sites for a pilot program intended to test police-community relations strategies and policies, the agency said Thursday.

The agency chose the sites based on factors that include the applicants’ willingness to try ideas and their ability to collect data that would provide a scientific evaluation of methods.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton and Mayor Bill Peduto scheduled a news conference for Friday to discuss Pittsburgh’s role in the initiative.

Pittsburgh applied to become a pilot site, and police Chief Cameron McLay is excited about the opportunity, said Public Safety Department spokeswoman Sonya Toler.

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