South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Plans outlined for SouthSide Works at South Side council DAM meeting

 

November 3, 2020



The fourth virtual development activities meeting (DAM) of the South Side Community Council (SSCC) featured presentations on three proposed South Side projects.

The Zoom video conference was held on Oct. 22.

The projects are the town square renovation and new playground at SouthSide Works, and new townhouses on an empty lot across from Armstrong Park.

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 the Planning Commission, the Zoning Board of Adjustment, Art Commission, or Historic Review Commission (HRC).

Any comments on a project presented at a DAM of the SSCC should be emailed to the SSCC at: info@southsidecommunitycouncil.org.

The first presentation was by architect Teresa Bucco of AE7, Pittsburgh, who said there are three SouthSide Works concepts: a dog park, playground, and town center.

The renovation of the town center at SouthSide Works, 445 S. 27th St., includes green space options and enhanced connections to the riverfront and trails.

The goal of the town center is to create programs and new energy for the area, she said.

The site would feature a new stage; ornamental plantings; movable café tables and chairs; rock scramble; brick pavers; shade sails; and more.

The goal of the stage is to create a dynamic town center, Ms. Bucco said.

A family-friendly section would feature play domes and rock scramble for play.

To a question of why a water feature proposal was eliminated in the plans, Ms. Bucco said there will be more uses with a large green space as opposed to a water feature.

There will be two accessible entrances and one with stairs, and three food/beverage venues.

The year-round experience would feature summertime with food trucks and more; concerts and performances at night.

In the wintertime there would be holiday lights, Santa visit, and more.

There is potential for a farmers’ market and Christmas fairs, Ms. Bucco said.

The site will be ADA-accessible.

Lighting at the perimeter would remain as is. A lighting consultant was hired to evaluate adequate lighting.

The terrace steps will be concrete with artificial turf.

Cinema Dr. would be reduced to one-way, and closed for events.

South Side Works Cinema would be converted into 75,000-square-feet office space called the South Side Works Box Office for 300 to 400 employees. 

“The theater just didn’t work,” said Jonathon Reeser, vice president – acquisitions, Somera Road, the new owner of SouthSide Works. 

“Hopefully, it’s a better interaction than a movie theater,” he said of the office building.

The playground will be located left of 27th St. The equipment will be natural, and its surfaces accommodating for safety and ADA accessibility.

To a question about water accumulation which has been observed, Ms. Bucco said civil engineers are on board to help with storm water management.

The plan is to close S. Water St. at 27th St., while Tunnel Boulevard would remain two-way.

The dog park is proposed for the long stretch of green space between the Cheesecake Factory and Hofbrauhaus in Tunnel Park, and would include small and large dog areas. A new sidewalk on the South Side is proposed.

The goal is to keep most of the existing trees, which will provide shade.

There would be benches in and out of the dog park. The planners are trying to use trellis-shaped structures in the dog park to provide shading.

They will also propose natural grass with a decomposed granite walkway. Nature grass helps with the filtration system. If the grass becomes dead from much use, a better solution will be sought.

To a question of whether plans were shared with business owners, Mr. Reeser said all of the plans were shared with their tenants.

“We definitely keep everyone informed,” he said.

A question was asked if owners of stores which closed due to the pandemic and other reasons will be approached about these plans and about returning.

Mr. Reeser said that retail, in general, has taken a hit. And, yes, he and his team will contact everyone they can.

“We don’t want dark places,” he said.

To a question of who will manage the outdoor space, Mr. Reeser said it would be “coordination of multiple parties.”

“It’s an interesting experiment. You will have your hands full,” said Bob Russ of the local review committee (LRC),

The next step for the town center and playground projects is the Planning Commission for final land development plan approval.

Residents should email comments to: planningcommission@pittsburghpa.gov, or mail letters to 400 Ross St., 4th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.

A waterfront multi-family apartment building, still in the design phase, is being proposed for the development for the end of 2021. The proposal will be presented at a future DAM.

To a question about the occupancy of other apartment buildings in the area, Mr. Reeser said Hot Metal Flats is at 93 percent occupancy.

The final proposal was for a development of five micro townhouses, which are small townhouses. They would be located at 90 South 12th St. across from Armstrong Park.

The proposed lot size is 2,476-square-feet. The architect is Fukui Architects.

The townhouses will feature two bedrooms, a first floor bathroom and office, a second floor small balcony, rooftop deck, and more. The air-conditioning units will be on the roof.

The sale prices will range from $240,000 to $280,000.

“The primary goal is to sell these to young couples,” Matt Renzi said.

Four variances will be sought: multi-unit buildings being permitted in a R1A-VH district; units not meeting 400-square-feet lot size per unit requirement; units not meeting 5-ft. front setback requirement; units not meeting 5-ft side setback requirement; and units not meeting 15-ft. rear setback requirement.

There would be a 3-ft. gap with the building behind it.

A resident whose home lies near the proposed development said he is fearful the townhouses will turn into rentals or Airbnb venues. Airbnb is an online company which provides a platform for members to rent out their properties or rooms to guests.

His three main concerns are: introducing five families on a small property; the blocking of his window; and exposing five decks over his property, thereby losing privacy and the view.

The proposal will next go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Testimony may be emailed to zoningboard@pittsburghpa.gov. Letters may also be sent to: 400 Ross St., 4th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.

The next DAM meeting of the SSCC will be on Nov. 19.

 

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