"The South Hills Junction is such a pit. Could it be any worse?"
Planners and urban designers from Interface Studio heard some harsh comments while conducting research for planning which may result in development near the transit stop.
Consultant Scott Page, from Interface, in Philadelphia, led a planning session on Feb. 15 at the Warrington Recreation Center and along with his co-worker, designer Mindy Watts, told the attendees about comments they had heard.
"The really important meeting will be held in April when we talk about ideas on what to do about the problems and to help set priorities," he said.
"Why plan? To empower residents. You can make a difference through a number of your actions. Also to coordinate residents, the city, nonprofits and churches."
The two speakers told of other statements they had heard:
"There is no connection to the community. It (the South Hills Junction) feels so isolated."
"Warrington Avenue has this big ugly green fence."
"There is no reason to be on Warrington unless you live there."
Mr. Page described the South Hills Junction as "a wedge between the neighborhoods and not on the main street."
The meetings being held by Interface concern a planning study, SMART TRID (South Metro Area Revitalization through Transit: Transit Revitalization Investment District). These sessions focus on ways of adding redevelopment and revitalization around South Hills Junction and also near Broadway Avenue in Beechview.
There is national enthusiasm for creating housing and commercial development around transit hubs. A TRID involves a state program that allows taxes generated by new development to be used for transit and site improvements.
Interface, paid by local and state funds, will create a TRID plan after marketing and engineering studies, financial planning and the residents' feedback obtained at meetings and in focus groups.
The final plan will be submitted to the taxing bodies for consideration.
Ms. Watts said Interface took notes on every piece of property within the study area. "The houses are generally fair to good but there are signs of distress on every block that drives the property values down."
The consultants also noted there are not a lot of businesses near the South Hills Junction and local residents tend to make purchases of even health and beauty items elsewhere.
Through a slide presentation they showed some walking tours of access points to the Junction. They had observed the unattractive green wall, narrow sidewalks and closed and deteriorated stairways.
There is a "Do Not Enter" sign at Warrington and Haberman Avenues but it does not make clear this applies to motorists, not pedestrians.
"The South Hills Junction is a sunken bowl…The point is that it takes a lot of effort to get to the station," Mr. Page said.
Ideas suggested so far include getting rid of the ugly green fence and opting for more attractive, brighter lighting.
Mr. Page passed out "Greetings from the Future: the South Hills Junction" postcards.
The cards were dated Feb. 15, 2025 and said: "Hi Mom, You should see the South Hills Junction today. You wouldn't believe how much it has changed…"
Attendees were invited to add their comments on the changes they hoped would occur someday.
In other business, Richard Meritzer, from the City of Pittsburgh Dept. of City Planning, briefly discussed the possibility of implementing a permit parking program for Mount Washington and Beltzhoover. The goal would be to prohibit all-day parking by nonresidents but this would not guarantee parking for residents in front of or near their homes. He asked attendees to stay and to discuss the matter with him.
Mr. Meritzer is now temporarily in charge of the program but is regularly employed as the City's ADA coordinator.