South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Slopes residents continue to question Winter Park Villas development plans


The March 8 general meeting of the South Sides Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) featured an update on a controversial, proposed single-family residential development in the Slopes.

Architect Justin Cipriani, of Cipriani Studios, said the initial plan for Winter Park Villas of 27 homes is down to 13 homes. The original project would have been too dense, and with too many traffic issues.

If given the go-ahead, the units will be located on three extensions of Hackstown, Gregory, and Magdalena streets. The homes, priced from $400,000 to $600,000, will be of about 2,500-square-feet with two-car garages.

The next step is a briefing at the April 5 city Planning Commission meeting in the Dept. of City Planning, 200 Ross St., third floor.

The Planning Commission hearing will take place on April 19.

Mr. Cipriani said the goal is to meet the city’s technical requirements and develop a design that fits with the neighborhood.

At a May 5, 2015, Planning Commission hearing on the Steep Slope Overlay Zoning District, the two principal concerns in testimony were: appropriateness of the site geologically; and the impact on Hackstown, Gregory, and Magdalena streets during construction and afterwards.

The infrastructure surrounding the site is worrisome for residents, as is the area’s capacity to support development and traffic congestion.

Residents have also complained about the ability of motorists to travel the area during construction in light of the narrow streets.

At last week’s Slopes’ meeting, a Hackstown St. resident said considering the plan is to build the homes as they are sold, there will be years of disruption.

Mr. Cipriani said building two to four homes at a time is typical.

An attendee said a presentation is needed on the torque required to climb the hill for heavy machinery and more.

Another attendee said a five-year construction plan will cause great upheaval. He also wondered where the construction vehicles would park.

A Pius St. resident said the turn is very difficult, especially for large construction vehicles, and the project will cause great disruption to the neighborhood. She is worried about the damage to the street, and to the quality of life on Pius St.

The meeting began with the introduction by city Councilman Bruce Kraus of the city’s new nighttime economy manager, Allison Harnden, who began the job in November.

Her goal is to create a sociable city, for which she has 20 years’ experience working on nighttime economies throughout the U.S.

She said she would gladly return to a SSSNA meeting to answer questions on plans and developments, if requested.

Mr. Kraus then gave a brief overview of the changes at the Giant Eagle on Wharton St. He said the mayor, county, and state are involved in a plan for the shopping complex.

At Giant Eagle, a pharmacy is being built. There will be extensive prepared foods, and beer sales.

The renovated Giant Eagle will not be a market district, but a “signature” store. The exterior remodeling will include two entrances, decorative gates, and new landscaping and lighting.

In upcoming events, SSSNA President Brian Oswald said 20 to 40 Carnegie Mellon University students will volunteer on April 2 for a spring cleanup on the Slopes.

Students and residents will tackle the Church Route, under the Mission St. Bridge, the Eleanor Way steps, and more.

Volunteers should gather at 18th and Carson streets at 9:30 a.m.

On the same day, the South Side Spring Social will be held from 5-9 p.m. at the Steel Cactus, 1831 E. Carson St., 2nd floor. Tickets are $15. Proceeds benefit Armstrong and South Side parks.

A church crawl will be held in the South Side from 1-5 p.m. on April 10.

Earth Day cleanup in South Side Park will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 23. The volunteer event will involve residents and the Student Conservation Association.

The May 14 home tour will feature four Slopes’ houses.

In other news, a $5,000 grant was received for the community garden at the Bandi Schaum field in South Side Park.

City Planning’s Kristin Saunders spoke briefly on a proposal to install a climbing bicycle lane from Edwards Way in the Flats to Monastery St. in the Slopes with shared lane markings extending to Arlington Ave. and Brownsville Rd.

Due to its width and relatively easy grade, 18th St. is a favored way to climb the hill.

Public meetings will be held on the proposed $100,000 project.

The next general meeting of the SSSNA will be on May 10.


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