Ribbon-cutting ceremony marks the opening of Frankie Pace Park (formerly I-579 CAP Park) connecting downtown and Hill District
November 22, 2021 - The Frankie Mae Pace Park ribbon cutting was a beautiful, long-awaited event in the Lower Hill District, which sits between Bedford Avenue, Washington Plaza and Centre Avenue, and reconnects the Historic Hill District. A significant cross section of Pittsburgh was in attendance, as well as ten elected officials, including Congressman Mike Doyle and Governor Tom Wolfe, State Representative Jake Wheatley, Mayor Bill Peduto, and City Councilman, Daniel Lavelle.
The park is an important articulation of the wish to rebuild the link destroyed in the 1950s with the interstate and Civic Arena, which resulted in the destruction and uprooting of one of Pittsburgh's largest predominantly Black neighborhoods. The park is named after a beloved Leader, Community Organizer, Educator and Entrepreneur in the Historic Hill District. As the only lay person who worked on the Model Cities plan and attended workshops in Chicago, Ms. Pace is, perhaps, best known for having organized the billboard that announced to the URA to cease development above Crawford Street until jobs and housing were provided. It marked the beginning of the end of a development process that heavily lacked community input and support and invited protests. She is also known as a very loving and kind woman who often let University of Pitt students stay in her home.
At the time, our Director of Community, Arts and Culture, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis, served as a consultant artist and historian on the project and chose to highlight Ms. Pace, as a part of the History Wall and to have the park named after her. “I am inspired by Ms. Pace and while I did not know her or get a chance to meet her, she is amazing and more than deserves to be highlighted and to have a permanent place in the Historic Hill District that honors her contributions,” Ellis stated. Another important and national figure honored in the park is Martin Delaney, an entrepreneur, doctor, abolitionist, and Union Major in the Civil War.
In addition to Ms. Pace, Dr. Ellis created “Keisha,” the African American girl who serves as a tour guide throughout the park. Working with illustrator, Vanessa Newton-Brantley, she directed the creation of the images, wrote the script for each sign and collaborated on where they should be placed. Keisha had quickly become a beloved figure in the park!
Throughout the park community-focused installations can be viewed, including designs by BPG's Director of Community, Arts and Culture, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis. Lower Hill District redevelopment consultants LaQuatra Bonci Associates and Lakeisha Byrd also made significant design contributions to the formerly vacant land. See the final design plans here.
The park itself is named after former head of the Hill District Community Council, Frankie Pace and serves to pay tribute to influential community activists of the past while also serving as a bridge to to the Hill District's future.
"This is an investment in infrastructure that is also an investment in the community," Gov. Tom Wolf said. "This park has been a community-focused project from start to finish, which is exactly the way it should be. The project has turned a space of division into a space of connection, providing safe pathways from the Hill District down to the downtown, creating recreation opportunities and doing it with environmentally conscious, community-centric design. That's why I am so proud to support this project."
The project officially broke ground in June 2019 and is estimated to have cost $32 million. Falling adjacent to the Lower Hill District redevelopment, Frankie Pace Park serves as a cap over the Crosstown Boulevard between the Lincoln Highway and Centre Avenue. Many of the same design team will be working on the urban open space in the redevelopment project.
Other important aspects of the park include:
Integration of the art work by three locally recognized artists (Amir Rashidd, Darrell Kinsel, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis), one nationally recognized artist (Jan Rosen) and the architectural design consultant, LaKeisha Byrd. The community engagement process that help set a program for the park (event lawn, stage, etc.) was inspiring and fruitful. The park is set up for a Phase 2 with the addition of an interactive water feature at the ellipse, future stage canopy and two pavilions that will house cafes and restrooms.
November 21, 2021 - Lower Hill Redevelopment partners - Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buccini/Pollin Group were proud to partner with UPMC, ACH Clear Pathways and United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania on a series of COVID vaccination clinics for Hill District residents on November 21st and December 12th 2021. The "Have a Heart & Take a Shot of Hope Vaccine Clinic", serviced over 130 people including 30 pediatrics. Thank you to all organizations that helped make this event possible: WAMO, UPMC , Pittsburgh Penguins, Giant-Eagle, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Buccini/Pollin Group
Follow @lowerhillredev for information on upcoming clinics and events.
JLL and Buccini/Pollin Group present update on Lower Hill District redevelopment at Building Owners & Managers Association of Pittsburgh
November 10, 2021 - Members of Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG) executive team and JLL presented an update on the Lower Hill District redevelopment to a lunch audience of the Building Owners & Managers Association (BOMA) of Pittsburgh at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh.
Highlights of the update included the announcement that I-579 Cap Park, a new three-acre span would soon be complete and expected to be open this winter (November 2021). Like the 28-acre former Civic Arena site, the CAP construction is a necessary step in the reconnecting of the Hill District to the central business district.
Lower Hill redevelopment presentation updates also included how the development team plans to better include the Black Hill District community with multiple community reinvestment initiatives in the larger redevelopment plan. Anchoring the site is the new $240 million FNB Financial Center located at the corner of Washington Place and Bedford Avenue. This 26-story office tower will feature ground floor retail and serve as the Corporate headquarters for FNB.
Click here to see the site
In celebration of Veterans Day 2021, members of the FSC Street Team joined Civease and 15 military, family members, and advocate artists at the Energy Innovation Center where for the1st Annual Pittsburgh Military Arts Fest on Saturday, Oct 30.
Food and coffee were made available by Brisketburgh and By the Wayside Coffee Truck.
Civease's mission is to empower and inspire military veterans and family members to find their ideal civilian career through self-development post military service. Many thanks to them for organizing this event and all of the sponsors: Pittsburgh Penguins, RIP IT Energy, First National Bank, Highmark, City of Pittsburgh Careers, Robert Morris University, Veterans at RMU, Victory Float Lounge, Chatham University, ReEngage Pgh, Pittsburgh Hires Veterans, High Speed Daddy, Veterans Helping Veterans, Homestead, First Sip Brew Box
Lower Hill Redevelopment Partner Finances $7.4 Million Renovation of Hill District's Historic Centre Ave. YMCA
On Friday October 8, 2021, officials participated in a celebratory ribbon cutting at Pittsburgh's historic Centre Avenue YMCA. Through a partnership between the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh and ACTION-Housing, Inc. more than $7 million in funds were raised to make repairs, including adding elevator, new bathrooms, air conditioning and more. Plans include 74 sleeping rooms with new private bathrooms, improvements to the kitchen, common areas and programming space. In addition to building upgrades, residents will receive additional wrap around social services.
The 100 year old building is rich in history and one of the1st YMCA's in the country to offer accommodations to African Americans. Tenants over the years included baseball greats Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige, boxing legend Joe Louis and singer Ella Fitzgerald. Speakers at the event recognized the buildings significance. It was where the Pittsburgh brand of the NAACP and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh were founded and it was the social center for generations of black Pittsburghers.
The building will be owned by a nonprofit and governed by a board consisting of members from the YMCA, ACTION-Housing and the community. First National Bank (FNB) invested in the project (including loan, tax credits and grant), partnering with ACTION-Housing for the first five years. After those five years, interests will be relinquished and it will wholly be owned by the nonprofit.
“Not only will this help a historically significant institution in the Hill District, but it’s going to help provide sanctuary and qualify of life opportunity for some of our men who are in need,” said State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Hill District in a 2020 interview.
With a long history of service to the community FNB's total investment in the Hill District is in excess of $200 million in loans, investments and grants. Read more about it here.
Pittsburgh Public Schools Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Lower Hill Redevelopment Partnership
The Lower Hill Development Team has partnered with the Career and Technical Education (CTE) training program, directed by Angela Mike, for the Pittsburgh Public Schools. The program is designed to serve as a pre-apprenticeship program where students learn the career and technical details of carpentry, engineering, business/finance, cosmetology, healthcare, automobile repair, heating and cooling, entertainment technology and more.
The CTE programs help prepare high school students for careers, learn 21st century job skills, earn industry certifications and college credits and held across a variety of schools, from Westinghouse, Carrick, Allerdice, and seven other schools. Our experts will match their expertise to willing students and teachers, who can align with the Lower Hill Redevelopment project and help shape the careers of students, as they enter the workforce.
The Lower Hill Team was in attendance at the kickoff event, which occurred at the Carpentry Training Center, after which a tour was taken of the facility. Congratulations to the graduates! We look forward to your great future!
Programs of Study include:
Automotive Body Repair
Business Administration, Sports & Entertainment
Early Childhood Education
Emergency Response Technology
Health Careers Technology
Multimedia Production and Coding
Student registration is ongoing. For professionals who wish to donate their industry acumen and experience checkout information on CTE's Occupational Advisory Committee. For more information on the program, cohorts and partnership opportunities go to: https://www.pghschools.org/cte
Let's get social! In collaboration with Lower Hill development partner, the Pittsburgh Penguins, we are delighted to announce monthly ticket giveaways for select events happening at PPG Paints Arena. For a chance to win, simply follow @lowerhillredev (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube) and check daily for contest details. Below are pictures from this month's event Gold Over America Tour starring Simone Biles and an all star team of champion gymnasts. All ticket winners will be notified prior to the event with pick up details and PPG Paints arena venue requirements.
October Ticket Giveaway Winners
Gold Over America Tour Starring Simone Biles - October 29, 2021
Lower Hill District social media channels feature content on Hill District community events, the First Source Job Resource Center, construction and professional service job opportunities, M/WBE and small business information, trainings and FNB Financial Center leasing opportunities.
In early October 2021, Lower Hill partner organization and national brokerage / property management powerhouse JLL funded and hosted a cohort of Facilities Management trainees for a series of hands on training sessions at the Energy Innovation Center.
This is the first training session by a Lower Hill affiliate focused on future phases of building operations and administration. Recognizing that less than 1% of commercial real estate management roles belong to minorities, JLL is exploring additional Facilities Management training opportunities for 2022 and beyond as well as partnership opportunities for graduate job placement.
Five proud graduates made the first graduating class:
For more information contact Ed Manko at firstname.lastname@example.org