South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

South Side learns of changes to SouthSide Works Square

Development activities meeting held online through Zoom

 


The first development activities meeting (DAM) of the South Side Community Council (SSCC) reviewed two proposed development projects on the South Side.

The projects are the renovation of the Town Square at SouthSide Works, and an alteration to the rear of 903 East Carson St.

The Zoom video conference was held on July 2 under the guidance of Department of City Planning.

SSCC President Barbara Rudiak began the meeting by stating the SSCC became an RCO (Registered Community Organization) in Jan., 2020. Community organizations can become RCOs through the Department of City Planning to provide community input on development activities and planning processes.

A DAM provides an opportunity for citizens, property owners, business owners, and stakeholders to learn about the proposals that affect them and to resolve concerns at an early stage of the application process.

Meetings must be held at least 30 days prior to the applicant presenting to Planning Commission, the Zoning Board of Adjustment, Art Commission, or Historic Review Commission (HRC).

In the first presentation, architect Nathan Hart, of Hart Architects, discussed proposed alterations to the rear of 903 East Carson St., which is located in the Historic District.

The plan is to put a door where a window currently is, and a window where a door currently is, and add a stair from the second floor to grade. No alternations are being proposed for the front.

The goal is to create two residential, one-bedroom units on the second floor. Each unit will be comprised of a living room, bathroom, kitchen and bedroom.

There is a driveway in the rear large enough for two cars.

While the floor could be made into one, 3-4 bedroom unit, Mr. Hart said the owner has no interest in single unit.

There is currently no occupancy permit for the residential units, but Mr. Hart said his efforts will aim to legalize that.

The first floor is unoccupied, but it was a pizza restaurant at one time. The occupancy permit for the first floor states "fast food," but Mr. Hart said the owner wants it designated back as a restaurant.

As the owner owns both 901 and 903 East Carson St., two spaces at 910 East Carson St. could be used for residents at 903 East Carson St.

In the question-and-answer period, Robert Russ, of the local review committee, said the window infill and the deck constructed at the building deviate from the drawings and are problematic.

This work was done prior to HRC approval.

He said the new deck extends into 901 East Carson St. beyond the property line. It is also close to power lines.

Mr. Russ suggested Mr. Hart talk to the owner about the problems.

A participant said once the owner collects income from the units, he should make an effort to revive the front of the building.

Mr. Hart said the owner is interested in pursuing renovations.

Another participant said there is a double door in the rear that was once used by the restaurant. Mr. Hart said the plan is to retain the double door.

He does not see a conflict between the deck posts and the doors, but larger equipment delivered into a future restaurant at the site may have a problem.

The project will be presented to the HRC on a date to be determined. Any comments on the project should be emailed to info@southsidecommunitycouncil.org. 

Next, Terrie Brightman, of the local design firm Strada, discussed a proposal for the renovation of the Town Square at SouthSide Works, 445 S. 27th St.

The Square is located by the Cheesecake Factory and SouthSide Works Cinema, and bordered by Sidney and 27th streets, Cinema Dr., and Tunnel Blvd.

Ms. Brightman said the new SouthSide Works owners are looking to "refresh the area."

They want to "modernize the space" and attract a younger crowd, and those walking and biking by, while also providing space for diners to sit outside, she said. 

The proposed illustrative plan is for ornamental plantings; play domes; water play; movable café seating; decorative pavement; water feature; flush wood performance area; rock scramble; brick pavers; shade sails; and lawn.

The plan is to keep most of the trees, with some supplementary trees added. Plantings would serve as the perimeter.

The temporary metal structure serving as a stage would be removed. A new stage would be built.

Lighting at the perimeter would stay as is. New lighting may be added throughout the site, and which is under discussion.

There would be movable café tables and chairs.

Stairs will remain, and entrances would be expanded. Similar materials would be utilized. 

The universal design is: accessible seating; contrasting pavement indicating grade change; inclusive play at splash pool; and accessible dining height furniture.

For year-round experience, program ideas include: passive recreation, such as a rock scramble; water play and passive recreation at play domes; and green market or food vendor space.

Programming COVID-19 for social distancing involves flexible space for outdoor games; wide entries for social distancing; and outdoor movie theater space.

Summer evening programming would feature concert and performance space; event concessions; and passive seating.

Summer day programming would include: passive recreation – rock scramble; passive seating and dining; green market or food vendor set up space; water play and passive recreation at play domes; and food truck area.

Fall programming ideas include seasonal decorations; event concessions; seasonal light displays; and concert and event space.

Winter programming would feature holiday market space; seasonal light displays; Santa meet and greet; and seasonal decorations. 

In the question-and-answer period, a participant commented the area gets crowded, with the eight benches and double benches getting filled. He doubted the three benches in the plan would suffice.

Ms. Brightman said the planners did not feel everyone would want to sit on a bench. There will be 40 movable seats, and she will look into more seating.

Regardless, he suggested more benches as, especially during concerts, they fill quickly.

"Better to have more than not enough," he said.

 Ms. Brightman said the planners wanted more open space for concert-goers to bring chairs and blankets to sit on grass. Seats may also be brought out for events, and then put away afterwards.

To a question about the programs, Ms. Brightman said most of the program ideas are based on what occurred on the site in the past. But she is happy to share alternate ideas with the owners.

Ms. Rudiak said to send all comments to info@southsidecommunitycouncil.org. She will inform participants of the Planning Commission date once it is set.

 

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