South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

Construction on new Hillcrest Highrise expected this spring

 


Plans for the Wendel Inn, the Hillcrest Highrise, and the Dairy District Open Market were among several development projects discussed at the Carrick Community Council meeting in the Concord K5 auditorium last Monday.

Sean Casey, president of Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville, discussed his plans for re-opening the Wendel Inn on Custer Avenue and re-establishing its use as a banquet hall.

Included in his plans are an elevator, a new production kitchen, and a secondary warming facility on the top floor. He also plans on keeping Wendel Inn as the business name.

“Our goal is to basically reinvigorate it and get it up and running,” Mr. Casey said. “Bring it back to the community for everyone to have banquets and wedding receptions.”

Mr. Casey said while he is going to pursue a restaurant license, it is unlikely the Wendel Inn will be a traditional restaurant. The facility may only be open for public use on specific occasions.

The quality of the Carrick neighborhood, the pride of the local houses, and clean streets were all contributing factors in Mr. Casey’s decision to purchase the Wendel Inn.

“Honestly, this neighborhood is a lot better than Lawrenceville was when I moved there,” Mr. Casey said. “It takes groups like yourself all working together to keep the good together and keep the bad out there.”

Construction on the Wendel Inn hasn’t started yet, but Mr. Casey said he expects the renovations will take nine months to complete.

The next speaker was Greg Jones, executive director of Economic Development South (EDS). Mr. Jones provided updates on both the Hillcrest Highrise and the Dairy District Open Market.

Construction on the 60-unit senior Hillcrest Highrise is due to start this spring after nearly four years of attempting to secure funding through a state tax credit program. With funding now secured, EDS was able to negotiate 10 to 15 jobs which will be open to local residents.

The building is set to be constructed at 2920 Brownsville Road on the site of a former Giant Eagle grocery store. In addition to senior apartments, the building will also have a public art component and a community meeting space.

“It’s a beautiful building,” Mr. Jones said. “It’s $5.5 million they’re going to spend before it’s all said and done.”

Mr. Jones also provided an update on the Dairy District Open Market, a destination shopping venue being constructed at the corner of E. Meyers and Brownsville Road.

Mr. Jones said construction started this past November; however, the underground foundation of an old furniture store caused minor adjustments to be made to the construction plans.

Construction has currently paused until weather improves. The next step is for the city to complete concrete and landscaping work before the contractor finishes the project. The market is currently planned to open in May.

EDS Deputy Director Stephanie Miller mentioned a variety of programming opportunities being considered around the market’s opening, including a dairy farmer’s market, a world’s biggest sundae contest, a grilled cheese cook-off, and a potential cow milking contest.

“The first year we’ll just be testing a lot of things,” Ms. Miller said. “We’re going to see what works and doesn’t work.”

EDS also plans to hire a part time programming manager that will attend each event to ensure parking and usage issues don’t occur. They are also working on a maintenance plan with the city to ensure the upkeep of the property.

While the market will be a community asset, EDS will ultimately maintain ownership, allowing the organization to restrict usage of the space to two or three times per week.

The next development project discussed was a stream restoration project aimed at restoring green space along Saw Mill Run Boulevard. This project is being managed by Lisa Brown, the director of Environmental Initiatives and Projects at EDS.

According to Ms. Brown, flooding and sewage overflow issues with the stream greatly impact the blight along the Route 51 corridor.

As a result, EDS is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate 1,000 properties along Saw Mill Run Boulevard in order to identify which ones should be acquired and transformed into green space.

The two organizations are also looking into a feasibility study to better determine which sections of the stream can be improved. The next steps on the study will be determined this March.

For more information on the Community Carrick Council, visit http://www.carrickpa.com.

 

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