December 17, 2013 | Vol. 74 No. 22

Planning Forum updates on projects in South Side, Works

With no presentations, the Dec. 10 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum consisted largely of updates on current and pending projects.

In the report of the Development Review Committee (DRC), Peter Kreuthmeier reported Garage #5 at SouthSide Works will be located just west of REI.

It will support a new residential development by Soffer and Village Green.

The DRC provided a letter of support to Soffer/Village Green for their briefing on the residential building and garage before the Nov. 26 Planning Commission meeting, but the developers pulled the project from the agenda.

Soffer will update the DRC at its December meeting.

The old St. Josaphat building, 2301 Mission St., will be converted to 19 residential units with 28 internal parking spaces. The plan is to demolish the assembly building and retain the school building.

The DRC agreed to provide a letter of support, but urged the architect and developer to reach out to neighbors about the plan.

Urban Tap has plans for demolition and new construction/expansion at its12 Bedford Square location: The plan is to fill in the Square with a two-story-high, single-story building, along with a single-story volume that links the new construction to the existing building.

The architect and owner proposed an operable Nanawall system on the Bedford Square facade, but the DRC strongly suggested they explore a different system that would employ steel rather than aluminum framing.

In the final DRC item, a facade renovation of Casey’s Draft House will remove very unsympathetic green tile and purple metal to reveal original brick.

In response to the proposed design, the DRC recommended a window system other than Nanawall be used; the pergola be deleted, as it is out of character with anything in the district; and the wood panels below the windows be deleted.

On an unrelated topic, the issue arose about three Lamar Advertising billboards on South 18th St.

Attorneys for Oxbridge Development, the agent for several properties near the site, sent Lamar a letter dated Nov. 27 asking the signs be relocated.

The letter states during storms and significant rains, the billboards are becoming unstable, raising safety concerns.

There has been no formal reply yet from Lamar.

To a question from Forum Chair Hugh Brannan about the Monastery St. steps, Mr. Kreuthmeier said there has been no satisfactory resolution as the city is continuing along the same path in replacing the steps.

Last month, and without public process, the city began demolishing the Monastery St. steps to replace with an at-grade sidewalk.

Mr. Kreuthmeier said he still believes it will lead to unsafe conditions.

Members of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) were quoted in local newspapers as saying they were outraged and blindsided by the action, especially in light of the organization’s stewardship of South Side stairways.

Mr. Kreuthmeier said he hoped the cold winter will slow the process. A new public works director is also likely to be hired in 2014 in light of a new administration.

In news of the neighborhood plan, Mr. Brannan said Tracy Myers would discuss the issue at the Jan. 14 forum meeting.

In announcements, the Brashear Association is collecting new and unwrapped toys for its annual drive until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17, for distribution to 500 needy local families.

There is a high need for gifts for girls about age 12, such as jewelry, games, and electronics, Christine Gaus of the Brashear Association said.

The drop-off location is the Brashear Center, 2005 Sarah St.

Last year, 700 children from the South Pittsburgh neighborhoods received toys.

Food vouchers will also be distributed to families.

The meeting concluded with news from attendee Adam DeSimone, of the South Side Bar and Restaurant Association (SSB&RA).

He said among the ideas the organization is working on is establishment of a taxi stand in the 1700 block of East Carson St. The plan has the support of the Public Utility Commission, Classy Cab, Yellow Cab, and the Pittsburgh Transportation Group.

Another idea is a centralized valet in the 18th and Carson streets parking lot in the evenings to

keep patrons outside of the neighborhoods.

A shuttle service with six buses is also being explored. The buses could be free depending on the advertising on the buses. Discussion is on-going on whether advertising might involve alcohol.

The buses would transport patrons to Station Square, SouthSide Works, and up and down East Carson St.

The goal for implementation is, ideally, March 1.

Mr. DeSimone said the SSB&RA is working with the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) and the city’s Dept. of Public Works.

“We are trying to come up with solutions that will be beneficial to the residential and business districts,” he said.

The next forum meeting will be on Jan. 14.

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