March 26, 2013 | Vol. 73 No. 35

Dairy District development kicks off on Brownsville Road

Located in the heart of commerce on Brownsville Road, Colteryahn Dairy has been serving Pittsburgh for 96 years, providing quality dairy products and employing scores of local residents.

Now, it’s bringing something else to the area—inspiration, and the potential for new business.

Colteryahn Dairy will serve as the anchor for a unique regional destination, to be called the “Dairy District.” The creation of this attraction is being facilitated by multiple Pittsburgh resources, representatives of which convened last Monday morning to mark the kickoff of the project and give a brief breakdown of the Dairy District development process.

In her public comments, Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak said she came up with the idea for the Dairy District after Carl Colteryahn III approached her last year to discuss how the dairy could reinvest in, and recommit to, the community.

Spurred by that meeting, Ms. Rudiak dedicated her office to create a commercial landscape centered on the dairy’s operations, which would give ground to the genesis and expansion of dairy-related businesses and have an economic effect that trickles down to other nearby, nonrelated commercial enterprises.

Also hoping for a trickle-down effect, and interested in linking South Hills commercial corridors, Gregory Jones, executive director of Economic Development South (EDS), said: “With this project, we’ll be able to redevelop Brownsville Road and Route 51 into a unique destination that links to the surrounding communities and brings new life to them, as well as to the district itself.”

EDS is a non-profit community development corporation serving Brentwood, Whitehall, Baldwin, Carrick and Overbrook. It is the agency that applied for the $50,000 grant awarded to the Dairy District project by the Neighborhood Renaissance Fund through the Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

According to the mayor, the Neighborhood Renaissance Fund has doled out $500,000 to 12 Pittsburgh organizations, four of which have a foothold in the South Hills. The $50,000 awarded to the Dairy District, he said, is the largest single grant disbursed by his office, though he advised this sum of money isn’t all that is needed to complete the project.

“We want the community to be involved. We want you to participate… to be active in developing the vision for this site, and for this Carrick District,” the mayor told community members and business-owners in attendance at Monday’s presentation.

“(The Dairy District) will be what you make it,” he concluded.

As for what folks want to make it, Mr. Colteryahn, the third-generation Carl to preside as president over the dairy’s affairs, said he wants to see the district bring pride back into the region and generate the growth of small businesses.

“When I drive through Brentwood (and Carrick), I get the feeling that it’s a nice place to live,” commented Mr. Colteryahn, “but we need to brighten it up and make it more interesting, so that cars will pull off the road and visit.”

About the types of attractions she foresees taking shape on Brownsville Road, Councilwoman Rudiak said, “I can see an ice cream shop opening here; maybe a candy store, a restaurant or a general store featuring Colteryahn products.

“There are many possibilities to explore.”

EDS, Design Center and the architectural firm of Desmone & Associates are the resources that will explore these possibilities and come up with the Dairy District plan.

“We’re not just looking at the dairy,” said Stephen Glassman, president of Design Center, the agency through which the mayor’s Neighborhood Renaissance Fund grant money will be distributed for the project.

“We’re looking at other businesses and buildings on Brownsville,” Mr. Glassman continued, “to see what’s already here and has room for improvement, and to see what new things we can add to enhance the area and create connectivity (with neighboring communities).”

Mr. Glassman said a fully-developed study and market analysis will be conducted to assess, among other things, improvement needs of existing structures and businesses and neighborhood interests.

“We’re hoping the study will be completed in four to six months,” Mr. Glassman asserted.

Coinciding with the study are Councilwoman Rudiak’s streetscaping, clean-up and parking projects, which promise to make the Brownsville Road corridor all the more engaging.

Familiar with the dairy since she was a child, Ms. Rudiak said her native roots and current residency in Carrick contribute to her goal of using her political post to find new and exciting ways to revitalize the area and foster commercial business and livelihood therein.

With these goals in mind, Ms. Rudiak explained she decided to approach Brownsville Road improvements in segments, looking at specific quarters and analyzing both their assets and their needs.

This approach, she said, allows for very specific foci which best appeal to strict government grant programs and hyper-localized neighborhood interest, as evidenced by the financial and community support the Dairy District segment has already received.

Hinting at progress on other segments, the councilwoman indicated, “The Dairy District is one small piece of a larger project.

“There’s much more to come.”

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