In the not too distant future, it won't be necessary to imagine them, they could be there – on the sidewalks, on top of buildings, everywhere. But it won't be necessary to watch where you walk; these cows will be fiberglass as design elements of the Dairy District being proposed in Carrick around Colteryahn Dairy.
"This project is really exciting for us," Greg Jones, executive director of Economic Development South, told the standing room only crowd gathered at the Church of the Redeemer, in the proposed Dairy District.
Mr. Jones explained to the crowd a destination style retail shopping district was missing along Brownsville Road. Something was needed to encourage the commuters in the thousands of cars passing through the area each day to stop and shop.
One of the things they took into consideration in thinking about creating a destination shopping district was the Colteryahn Dairy, the family owned dairy that has been in Carrick for more than 100 years. Colteryahn is the last dairy located within the city of Pittsburgh.
"We looked at it as what we had was this fantastic facility. Somebody who had made a real investment in Carrick and the City of Pittsburgh," Mr. Jones continued. "What we wanted to do, was say how can we celebrate that, how can we create a destination around that and from that emerged the Dairy District concept."
"You read some stuff in the paper about the different businesses we're going to integrate with them, and every single one of them is an existing Carrick business. Every single one of them is looking to expand," Mr. Jones said.
The district will be creating better, larger spaces for existing Carrick businesses, he said to the crowd of mostly local residents. They will also be looking at creating additional community resources, significant streetscape improvements and possibly a dairy themed open space dairy market similar to a farmers' market.
"The main goal was to completely integrate the Colteryahn Dairy into the neighborhood and create this new destination dairy district," began Chip Desmone, from Desmone & Associates Architects. "Next was to have a community-wide process and tonight is really kind of the culmination of that community-wide process.
"And we really want to recognize and celebrate the historic nature of the dairy and the district and the retail corridor that is up here and accentuate it. Next, we want to recognize there are existing resources in this district and enhance them for a sense of unity.
"And celebrate them and establish a clear esthetic and visual sense to this district so it's unified and it's recognized as being unified; and lastly, integrate green building materials and concepts to the area."
Terry Oden, project architect for Desmone & Associates, took over the presentation to explain the concept and what was being proposed.
The Dairy District will be bounded along Brownsville Road by Meyer Street on one end and Cherryhill on the other. He said the boundaries are only a starting point and they expect the development will bleed out into the surrounding area.
One of the things he stressed was the history associated with the dairy. The Colteryahn Dairy was established in 1893 and has been on Brownsville Road since 1917. In coming up with a plan, the steering committee of local residents and businesspeople considered some of the historical images available to them including photographs, an old milk wagon still in storage at the dairy and a "ghost" mural on the side of one of the dairy's buildings.
One of the major reasons for establishing the Dairy District is to increase the quality of life and raise the property values for those within the area.
Some of the project objectives being considered included: cow pattern paint on some of the buildings; gateway arches on Brownsville Road at the north and south entrances to the district; sidewalk "bump-outs" into the parking lane; a dairy themed farmers' market; and, a café/ice cream parlor/restaurant.
Other design elements could include: painted fiberglass cows throughout the district; new dairy themed trash cans and benches; additional signage linked to historic sites and/or a self-guided walking tour; façade improvements; and, an increased use of technology including wind power.
Mr. Oden said the district would be broken down into components or collections of parcels to make it more manageable.
One parcel is currently a vacant lot and could have a double use as the farmers' market and a parking lot. In addition to the outdoor space, the farmers' market could also feature a building that could be used for events and festivals.
Another parcel of buildings could be used as the café district with a restaurant, café, ice cream parlor or a chocolatier. There would also be a retail district with small, walkable, well scaled businesses.
"It doesn't mean they would be confined to these areas, but it would be focal points," Mr. Oden said.
The neighborhood district would include residential properties, churches, the fire station and possibly a community building.
"It's the aspects of a neighborhood that we would all like to reside in," he said.
Right at the center of the district would be the component that houses the Colteryahn Dairy production buildings.
In the core of the district, façade renovations are key to the success. The architects created a palette of dairy farm materials that are appropriate for to enhance a streetscape including metal panels and reclaimed barn wood. In addition, they looked at storefront systems to enhance the appeal of the properties and bring the inside to the outside.
A color palette for the core district was also developed based on the colors used in the packaging of Colteryahn's iced teas.
"These colors," he said. "We're going to bring them out, bring them to life, maybe accent colors, maybe as trim colors, maybe as the door, maybe the painting of a window sill, it could be an awning. The recognition of these half dozen colors or so where a building takes on two or three of these in a subtle manner will give you that visual connection that everybody is together and on board."
He added it would be an effective color scheme to make a subconscious connection.
In wrapping things up, Mr. Jones said they're not "going out and swinging hammers tomorrow," there is still work to be done on financing and what incentives are available. What was presented that evening was the core details of the project.
He added, they have site control over every property that is crucial to the project. The next step will be to get full construction drawings and securing the bank financing to start.
Mr. Jones said he expected to see the project happen in phases over the next couple of years.