Pittsburgh Has Dim View Of Ads On Sign Above Point

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The sign in question is to the right of the tall building and the incline. Looks like a cement wall next to the trees on the cliff. Actually a billboard.

Picture this scrolling hundreds of feet above the iconic confluence of Pittsburgh’s three rivers: “Chipped ham, $1.39 a pound.”

That’s the plot Mayor Bill Peduto says his administration has foiled as it negotiates a new permit with Lamar Advertising for the company’s famous 32-foot-tall, 225-foot-long neon sign on Mount Washington, which has loomed over the Point since around the time of the 1929 stock market crash that triggered the Great Depression.

Bayer, which for years had pushed for upgrades to the dilapidated sign that was covered with a banner during the G-20 summit in 2009 like an embarrassing piece of furniture, finally dropped its nearly 22-year lease of the sign last summer. Lamar pledged to overhaul it. During its lifespan, the sign has also been graced by the sponsorship of Iron City Beer and Alcoa, and displayed the time and the temperature.

Mr. Peduto said Friday that the company is threatening to cease the improvements over his administration’s insistence that the sign not be used for advertising purposes beyond displaying a company name. Mr. Peduto said he was told his stance “killed” a deal with Giant Eagle to become the new sponsor.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/05/23/Pittsburgh-has-dim-view-of-ads-on-sign-above-Point/stories/201505230071

Officials Envision Reinvigorated Allegheny County Airport

The county airport authority wants West Mifflin’s Allegheny County Airport to be a destination — but not for commuter flights.

That sums up a meeting borough officials had Monday with new authority CEO Christina Cassotis that came 24 hours before a $1.5 million federal grant was announced for taxiway rehabilitation there.

“It was a positive meeting,” borough Manager Brian Kamauf said. “We discussed the history of the airport.”

It dates back to Pittsburgh and McKeesport’s window to the world between 1931 and 1952, when commercial service moved from West Mifflin to what then was Greater Pittsburgh Airport, now Pittsburgh International.

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Developer Plans To Turn North Side’s Allegheny Center Into Technology Hub

A New York developer unveiled plans today to convert the Allegheny Center mall on the North Side into a technology hub and campus to be known as Nova Place.

The multimillion-dollar project being undertaken by Faros Properties will include an extensive renovation of the 1.2 million-square-foot complex, making it one of the largest redevelopment projects in the country, officials said.

Work will include upgraded offices, collaborative workspaces, new restaurants, a fitness center, a conference center and improved common areas.

In unveiling the changes, Faros announced that Innovation Works has signed a lease to occupy 12,000 square feet in the complex. The company will move from its current space in Pittsburgh to Allegheny Center next month and into permanent space in the fall.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/05/21/Developer-to-turn-Allegheny-Center-into-a-technology-hub/stories/201505210194

Pittsburgh’s Healthy Ride Bike Share System To Start May 31

Pittsburgh’s bike share system will begin May 31, organizers announced Monday.

The rental network of 50 stations across 11 neighborhoods will provide access to 500 bikes. Dubbed Healthy Ride, the system will be operated by Pittsburgh Bike Share, which was established in 2012 with the goal of starting a public bike sharing system.

“We are excited to bring bike share to the city of Pittsburgh,” said a statement from Executive Director David White. “Residents, businesses and community groups have all shown tremendous support and enthusiasm for the launch. Healthy Ride will provide the city of Pittsburgh with an active transportation choice for locals and visitors.”

Rentals will be available for $2 per half hour. Monthly membership plans will cost $12 a month for unlimited 30-minute rides and $20 for unlimited 60-minute rides. Users can pre-register for free on the program’s website or at the rental kiosks at stations.

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Downtown Pittsburgh Continues On Strong Growth Trajectory

DSC01801Developers announced about three dozen economic development projects totaling $526 million in Pittsburgh’s Greater Downtown in 2014, capitalizing on dramatic growth in recent years, according to a report released Thursday.

“With more than $5 billion of transformative investment in Downtown Pittsburgh over the last decade, Downtown is well-positioned,” said Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the nonprofit Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

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Cargo Train Derails In Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood Section

No injuries have been reported in a freight train derailment in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

The train went off the rails about 10:15 a.m. on tracks near Irvine Street, according to emergency dispatchers.

About 10 freight cars derailed, and some of the cars blocked Irvine where the tracks crossed.

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Braddock’s Backers See Lots Of Potential In Community’s Future

When talking about Braddock, Molly Rice and Jeffrey Carpenter avoid the word “revitalization.”

The term, they say, implies what already exists in the community isn’t vital, and, therefore, doesn’t apply to the historic town.

“Braddock isn’t what you might think it is. There are so many elements and varieties of colors and layers and things to see,” says Rice, a playwright who’s working with Carpenter’s Bricolage Production Company and Real/Time Interventions to bring her “Saints Tour” immersive theater experience to Braddock in May and June.

The show is one of many efforts to draw outsiders in while the community continues to move forward from its unstable past.

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Hazelwood: Almono Gives Neighborhood A Shot At Recovery

Salvation sits just across the railroad tracks from Alex Bodnar’s Hungarian restaurant on Second Avenue in Hazelwood.

It doesn’t look like much now, just acres and acres of vacant land, graded but idle. But the redevelopment potential of the 178-acre site has raised the hopes of the struggling city neighborhood.

“The good Lord is answering my prayer,” Mr. Bodnar beamed as he stood in the kitchen of his restaurant preparing a bowl of goulash.

For much of the last century, the Monongahela riverfront site has been closely tied to the neighborhood’s fortunes. For decades, the massive coke works that dominated the land brought prosperity. Jobs were plentiful and Second Avenue teemed with grocery stores, shops and restaurants.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/in-the-lead-2015/reports/2015/05/11/In-The-Lead-Hazelwood-Almono-gives-neighborhood-a-shot-at-recovery/stories/201505140090

Study: Pittsburgh’s Network Of Riverfront Parks Contributes To Boom In Development

DSC01818Pittsburgh’s riverfront parks system is not only a haven for rest, relaxation and recreation but an economic powerhouse that has helped to generate billions of dollars in development over the past 15 years, a study has found.

In that time, the $130 million invested in the 13-mile Three Rivers Park has helped to produce nearly $4.1 billion in development on and near the riverfront, according to the study by Sasaki Associates, a Massachusetts-based architectural and planning firm.

In addition, the study, commissioned by Riverlife and to be released today, determined that since 2001, property values along that stretch have jumped by 60 percent compared with 32 percent in the rest of the city.

“The pattern in Pittsburgh and in other cities across the country is clear: properties with close proximity to high quality park infrastructure increase in value more than properties that do not,” the report stated.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2015/05/07/Study-Pittsburgh-s-network-of-riverfront-parks-contributes-to-boom-in-development/stories/201505070094

Pittsburgh Needs 21,000 Affordable Homes, Study Says

DSC01828Mayor Bill Peduto’s newly named Affordable Housing Task Force has daunting numbers to chip away at. For starters, a shortage of 21,000 homes in Pittsburgh that are affordable enough for families of four whose income is $24,000, which is 30 percent of the area’s median income for that size household.

Attorney Robert Damewood of Regional Housing Legal Services called the shortage “severe” and said that throughout Allegheny County, more than 30,000 people live in housing they can’t afford, most paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing. “This makes them very insecure and at risk of eviction.”

The  has just issued a report on a situation it expects to escalate as rents rise in more neighborhoods.

Mr. Damewood researched and prepared the report for the Housing Alliance’s Building Inclusive Communities work group. It recommends the city establish inclusive zoning, assuring a percentage of affordable units in any development, either by mandate or incentives to developers, such as land use approvals, height density bonuses and additional build-outs at no extra cost. In flat markets, a community land trust or land bank can preserve properties for affordable development.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/05/06/Pittsburgh-needs-21-000-affordable-homes-task-force-reports/stories/201505060095

Allegheny Health Network’s $600M Plan To Expand Reach Depends On Highmark

Allegheny Health Network proposes investing part of $175 million from Highmark Inc. in renovations and technology upgrades at its Allegheny General and West Penn hospitals, anticipating that they will accommodate more patients when Highmark insurance subscribers lose in-network access to UPMC next year.

The Highmark-owned hospital system would build outpatient medical centers and expand emergency, trauma and women’s health services to underserved parts of Western Pennsylvania as part of a spending plan that executives say will help it better compete with UPMC.

“The entire amount … will be used for capital improvements at Allegheny Health Network to fill in certain service line gaps,” Chief Financial Officer Karen Hanlon said during a state Department of Insurance hearing Monday. “No portion of the requested funding will go to pay operating expenses.”

UPMC Treasurer Tal Heppenstall Jr. said Allegheny Health Network is in worse financial condition than Highmark has reported and chided the company for its “profound lack of financial transparency.” He said it appears Highmark is hiding huge losses in “sporadic, fragmented and murky” financial statements.

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CEO Takes The Blame As Sales Continue To Fall At Vitamin Retailer GNC

Mike Archbold fell on his sword Thursday, calling an unexpected drop in first-quarter sales at GNC a “self-inflicted wound.”

Archbold, who was hired as CEO in August to turn around a yearlong slump in sales and profit, said he mistakenly cut the Downtown-based vitamin and supplement retailer’s advertising budget by $5 million.

“We intentionally did not deploy a full slate of marketing. … This caused us to talk to our customers less, a lot less,” he told analysts. “To be clear, this was a mistake.”

Not a factor in the decline, he said, was negative publicity from a probe by the attorney general of New York that questioned the purity and authenticity of some herbal supplements sold by GNC and other retailers.

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More U.S. Steel Layoffs Coming, CEO Says

U.S. Steel Corp. expects to lay off more workers this year as the Downtown-based steel manufacturer accelerates cost-cutting to deal with a significant downturn in demand, CEO Mario Longhi said Wednesday.

The company has laid off 2,800 workers since the beginning of the year as it reduces steel production at all its plants in North America. It has issued notices to 9,000 of its workers warning them that they could be cut which gives the company flexibility to react to worsening conditions.

Longhi told analysts that the number of layoffs will go higher, but he didn’t provide specifics.

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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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