June 22, 2010 |

One Grandview Avenue project moves on to Planning Commission for approval

Developer Beau Beemsterboer sees his condo/hotel project at One Grandview Avenue as "a model for Pittsburgh's future development projects."

He brought along his fiancée, Ugne Adomaviciute, who lived in and worked for the Republic of Lithuania, and Christine Kwolek, a key adviser on his development team, to the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation membership meeting to update residents on the project that will replace the dilapidated former Edge restaurant.

The city planning commission will review the plans for final approval on June 22. The MWCDC has asked more than 50 local supporters to attend the session. "This is the last city hurdle for us," Mr. Beemsterboer said.

Plans now call for 160 hotel rooms, 60 condos and 472 parking spaces including 88 valet spots; the team had mentioned plans for 110 rooms, 50 condos and 440 spaces at a previous hearing. The complex will also have two restaurants, a welcoming center and a fitness center.

"This will fit into the community. It will feature the type of architecture that you see every day," he said. "We will have a very beautiful plaza, a place where you can plan weddings. It will be similar in use to PPG Plaza, that is, privately owned and publicly used. It is a good model for us.

"We will be a bookend to the Tri-Mont.

"After the meeting Tuesday the next stage is financing," Mr. Beemsterboer said.

"We are discussing arrangements with a local hotel operator that has 30 hotels. We want brand affiliation. We don't want them to redesign anything. We want to keep control and not give anything up.

"We're close to a contract with the previous owner of the Edge. We were waiting until we had all of the approvals. We would demolish four homes with asbestos and also the Edge (which has asbestos).

"Initially we thought of having a penthouse that we would sell to a rich guy. But instead we decided to have a lounge that could be used by 100 people at a time. They'd see the spectacular view. This would increase the draw of our property.

"It is easy to sell a penthouse. In fact, I had calls about it."

He also said, "We always intended to hire locally for construction and operations. We've had discussions with Chuck Wallace about a flower cart and with DiFiore's Ice Cream Delite."

Residents mentioned to the developer that there have been recent discussions at MWCDC meetings about somehow getting a bus to travel between the two incline sites.

"I like it. I think it is a great idea. It has been a pleasure working with all of you," Mr. Beemsterboer said.

"I want to emphasize a couple of points," the next speaker, Zone 3 Crime Prevention Officer Christine Luffey, said.

"This is our busiest time of the year. Our case load goes through the roof.

"But crime is everyone's responsibility. Every citizen has an obligation to do what is right. Report crime to 9-1-1. You can do it anonymously. The police expect all of us to fight crime. Do your part to make our communities safe," Ms. Luffey said.

"I also want to mention block watches. They work. You meet nice people. They start a good relationship between citizens and police officers.

"It helps. For example, if you report your car was broken into, everyone knows what to look out for.

"At block watches we teach people how to make their properties less of a target," she said.

Council member Theresa Kail-Smith said there will be cameras used for a "sting operation" to catch graffiti artists. MWCDC executive director Chris Beichner called it a "hot spot."

Ms. Kail-Smith said council is also revising the ordinance describing "dangerous dogs" so it has clearer definitions and increases registration fees.

She was thanked by a resident for having the city install stop signs on both the eastern and western sides of the intersection at Grandview and Bigham Avenues.

"I work different crime watch areas," said another speaker, John Constantino, of Absolute Security. "I check windows, doors and basements for the elderly. There are a lot of things that people can do." He said his company routinely offered 10 free security systems for homes in crime watch areas, although there are minimal monthly charges. "First come, first served."

Mr. Beichner said he expected the city's work adding street lighting to Grandview Avenue to be finished by August.

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