South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

 
 

By Al Lowe
Contributing Writer 

Development dominates discussion at Mount CDC

 

April 20, 2010



Plans to build a condo complex between Meridan and Hallock streets were discussed at the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation community forum meeting on April 15.

The backers of the project told the audience they had funding in place to construct a building with 10 "apartment style condos."

"Anything they build up there is going to add value to all of our properties," MWCDC board member Jim Nolan said.

Zoning approval was received in 2005 but was for a somewhat different project involving four townhouses and six condos. Tom Chunchick, of Meridan Street Associates, said he is waiting to hear from city officials if that approval is applicable for the current project. "We are ready to get moving once we get approval," he said. "It depends on how they view our request."

He was accompanied by attorneys Robert Garvin and Ryan Wotus and they all answered questions from residents who live near the planned complex.

One lady objected she thought the building would be "too massive."

Mr. Chunchick replied that his company, Meridan Street Associates, had responded to complaints regarding the original plans for four townhouses and six condos. The height of the condo complex would now be lower at 36 feet and would not eliminate 15 on-street parking spaces as the previous plan would, since the building's 20 parking spaces would be on-site.

"If the city doesn't uphold the zoning approval of 2005, then we go back to Plan B with the townhouses and a building height of 48 feet. Those plans were already permitted and we don't have to go to the zoning board," Mr.

Chunchick said. However, funding is not yet in place for a townhouse/condo project.

Frank Valenta, MWCDC board member, praised the developers for seeking input from the community.

The next guest speaker was Boris Weinstein, of Citizens Against Litter. "I'm the self-appointed Litter Czar," he said.

His organization believes "picking up litter must be done regularly. Once or twice a year doesn't cut it."

Close to 250 communities in Pittsburgh and Allegheny, Beaver, Washington and Westmoreland Counties plan participation in Spring Redd Up in April and May.

He said efforts are coordinated by the Clean Pittsburgh Stewards who organize Redd Ups, recruit volunteers and maintain communications between neighborhoods, city departments and support groups.

"We don't need logos or hats. We need volunteers," Mr. Weinstein said.

MWCDC Executive Director Chris Beichner mentioned Allegheny CleanWays is compiling lists of illegal dump sites in the neighborhoods.

The MWCDC has been developing a 10-year housing strategy and recently surveyed former residents who moved from the neighborhood. One complaint was about litter, Mr. Beichner said.

In response, the organization recently created a map with 20 zones or "micro neighborhoods." The plan is to have zone captains for each zone organize regular clean-ups.

"With 20 zones you can control all of Mount Washington. It is a piece of cake," Mr. Weinstein said.

"The next step is to find zone captains," Mr. Beichner said.

"Get started right away. Don't wait until you have captains for all 20 zones," Mr. Weinstein said.

Audience members complimented businesses that were enthusiastic about cleaning up litter, particularly DiFiore's Ice Cream Delite on Shiloh Street.

Mr. Beichner said he met with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and asked that the city's street cleaner machine visit the streets more often and that the public works department collect trash from the overflowing trash bins more regularly.

Mr. Weinstein can be reached at boris.weinstein@ verizon.net. In other business, MWCDC is requesting a city commissioned feasibility study to determine the best use of the former Prospect School.

"It helps us move the process (of redevelopment) forward," said board president J.T. Smith.

"The building has great architecture," Mr. Beichner said.

Also, the developer of the One Grandview Avenue project will be seeking city planning approval of the final design and site plans. He hopes to build an 18 story building with hotel rooms, condos, restaurants and a fitness center at the site of the former Edge restaurant.

Mr. Beichner said the developer applied for and may receive $200,000 in federal funds to help pay for the demolition of The Edge.

He also announced developer Craig Cozza may attend a MWCDC board meeting this summer to discuss possible improvements to his properties along Grandview Avenue, long considered to be eyesores by members of the organization.

"The Bureau of Building Inspections has been holding his feet to the fire," Mr. Beichner said.

A tour of the Grand View Scenic Byway Park is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fri,, May 14, "to experience the Main Loop in its entirety. Please wear sturdy shoes and bring a lunch and water bottle." There will be a couple of coffee breaks and local transportation will be provided at "hop-off stations" along the tour, which will be conducted rain or shine. It starts at 8:30 a.m. at the former Boggs Avenue School.

RSVP to Ilyssa Manspeizer, park manager, at 412 481-3220, ext. 204, or contact imanspeizer@mwcdc.org by Mon ., May 10.

The MWCDC recently completed its Master Trail Plan for the park.

Among the attendees that night at the community forum meeting was District Six School Board Member Sherry Hazunda.

 

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