Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis Expands Role as Director of Community, Arts and Culture for the Lower Hill Redevelopment
The Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG) is pleased to announce the promotion of Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis to a new, full time position of Director of Community, Arts and Culture for its Pittsburgh office.
Kimberly C. Elis, Ph.D. is a Scholar of American and Africana Studies, an Artist, Activist and Entrepreneur, as well as a playwright, world traveler and international thought leader on culture, gender and social technology. She served on a Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership Committee to install a North Star Constellation at the center of Market Square and unveiled it with Mayor Ravenstahl and other stakeholders. And working with the Heinz History Center and Sam Black, Dr. Ellis served on a Committee to create and edit the historic landmark for playwright, August Wilson, which is permanently placed in front of the August Wilson House.
"I have been working in the community for a long time, in many different areas, but always to help inform, empower and inspire. I am honored to take on this new position of Director of Community, Arts and Culture, with the Buccini/Pollin Group because it reflects my values and allows me to honor my community, empower artists, entrepreneurs, and workers, and to spark economic vitality throughout the Upper, Middle and Lower Hill, and the city of Pittsburgh. I have always been someone who thinks outside of the box and about big ideas, so this is a good fit."
This is a newly created position that leverages her previous role as Lower Hill Historian and Cultural Legacy Consultant into a permanent role focused on engaging the community and empowering Hill residents, homeowners, artists and entrepreneurs, especially as BPG moves into the next phase of the Lower Hill development made possible by the advancing FNB Financial Center project.
A longtime resident of the historic Hill District, Dr. Ellis is the founder of the Historic Hill Institute, co-created the “Build the Hill” Community Conference and remains a consultant on the history of the neighborhood and its historic preservation. She served as a fellow for the National Trust for Historic Preservation; and is responsible for launching the campaign to make living in “the Historic Hill District” popular. Today, residents say it without thinking twice about this purposeful awareness campaign.
Dr. Ellis worked to secure the first Community Benefits Agreement in the State of Pennsylvania, co-created the Greater Hill District Masterplan and contributed to its historic preservation plans. She later worked with CH Planning to finalize urban planning for the historic Hill District. Dr. Ellis is a professional tour guide that gives tours of the historic Hill District and Pittsburgh and was featured in the New York Times for her work on the Underground Railroad in Pittsburgh. Most recently, Dr. Ellis served as the Historian and Artist on the I-579 CAP Park, where she created the History walls, a fictional character named, “Keisha” and wrote her storyline and dialogue. Keisha is at least one of the culturally-responsive elements that will be utilized in the Lower Hill Urban Open Space.
In June 2017, Dr. Ellis was the Keynote Speaker for the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation Symposium, which had its focus on Arts Activism, and in July 2017, she served as a member of the Tulsa delegation for the Initiatives of Change, "Just Governance for Human Security" Conference in Caux, Switzerland. At that conference, Dr. Ellis also earned a "Human Security X" certificate under the purview of the United Nations' "Initiatives of Change" program.
Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis will appear as a lead historian and storyteller in the “Terror in Tulsa” documentary, which will debut on The History Channel on May 31, 2021. She continues to educate the public about the worst and still unresolved case of domestic terrorism in United State’s History.
Dr. Ellis is also a freelance journalist, playwright, screenwriter and previously served as an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University, teaching their inaugural course on “August Wilson Dramas” for their Literary Culture program. She teaches online for the general public. She can be found at DrKimberlyEllis.com.
Penguins And BPG Announce Opening of Lower Hill First Source Employment Opportunity Center in the Historic Hill House
The Pittsburgh Penguins and development partner The Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG) are pleased to announce the opening of a Lower Hill First Source Employment Opportunity Center in the heart of Hill District, blocks away from the 28-acre Lower Hill redevelopment. The mission of the First Source Center is to provide a central location for residents to obtain better access to job opportunities, career training, and pathways to construction, professional and service-related employment in connection with the Lower Hill redevelopment, as well as more broadly with other employers across the City and region.
The First Source Center will be located on the first floor of the historic Hill House, located at 1835 Centre Avenue, in space leased from E Properties and Development, the owner and manager of the property. The build-out construction for the space is being completed by Massaro in a partnership with TD Construction, a Hill District-based minority contracting firm owned by Derrick Tillman and Darnell Dinkins.
Delivering upon the commitment by the development team under the Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan (CCIP) relating to the Lower Hill redevelopment, the grand opening for the First Source Center is planned for mid-May.
The Penguins and BPG recruited a group of founding partners to launch and operate the First Source Center, including PJ Dick, Massaro, and Mascaro construction companies, Partner4 Work, PA CareerLink, the Builders Guild of Western PA, and the A. Phillip Randolph Institute.
Programming at the First Source Center will assist residents seeking job opportunities, career training, career exploration, resume building and other workforce development services. Job readiness support including transportation assistance, record expungement, pardon assistance, and referrals to social and pro bono legal services will also be available at the First Source Center.
“We are excited to help bring job opportunities to residents in the heart of the Hill District,” said Dorin Dickerson, Director of Development with the Pittsburgh Penguins and formerly with Mascaro construction. “The opening of the First Source Center is timed with our advancement of redevelopment on the Lower Hill, which will bring thousands of construction jobs and thousands more permanent jobs to the city and the Hill District community,” said Dickerson.
The Penguins and BPG are coordinating a comprehensive outreach effort to fully inform residents from the Hill District and across the city and region of all employment opportunities on the Lower Hill redevelopment.
F.N.B. Corporation Invests in Initiatives Serving the Hill District Community of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
PITTSBURGH, PA – April 27, 2021 – F.N.B. Corporation (NYSE: FNB) announced the expansion of its commitment to drive economic development in the Hill District community of Pittsburgh, PA, with a significant investment in programs aiming to connect local businesses and entrepreneurs with essential funding.
Highlighting FNB’s commitment is a $5 million investment in the launch of its new, proprietary Hill District Gap Lending Program, which is designed to address financing gaps for real estate projects in the community. FNB will provide loans of up to $400,000 and flexible lending parameters for local businesses that require additional funding to complete a capital structure so they can move forward with developing or redeveloping community assets. With an emphasis on serving low- to moderate-income and predominantly minority census tracts in the Hill District, the program intends to support projects that improve the community and promote wealth building through the development and ownership of commercial real estate.
To ensure resources are directed toward opportunities that will best benefit the Hill District, FNB will collaborate with community organizations including the Hill Community Development Corporation and Neighborhood Allies to identify and engage prospective participants.
The Company also has invested $2 million in the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) and Invest PGH, Inc., a newly certified Community Development Financial Institution that spun off of the URA, to support lending programs for businesses that traditionally have experienced financing challenges. As part of FNB’s investment, $1 million will be utilized by the URA’s Small Contractor Line of Credit Program for minority contractors in the Hill District who are taking on projects that require access to working capital. Pending URA Board approval, the line of credit program will be launched on May 13, 2021. In addition, $1 million will be provided directly to Invest PGH, Inc. for its Accelerating Business Expansion Loan (ABEL) Program, which stimulates growth for small- to medium-sized businesses through flexible financing for real estate purchases, development and other expansion needs. Through ABEL, FNB’s funds will primarily benefit businesses in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and Northside communities.
“Our commitment to these initiatives, including our own new gap lending program, both extends FNB’s long history of service to the Hill District and affirms our plans for ongoing investment in this vibrant neighborhood,” said Vincent J. Delie, Jr., Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of F.N.B. Corporation and First National Bank. “Our goal is to connect historically underserved members of our community with access to capital and other resources so that we can foster opportunities and, ultimately, drive growth and success for the greater Hill District and the Pittsburgh Region overall.”
These programs build on FNB’s community lending, investments and strong relationships in the Hill District and align to its mission to improve the quality of life in the communities it serves. The Company has announced significant contributions to the Hill District Federal Credit Union and to the development of an innovative education facility in the Ammon Community Recreation Center. Throughout its footprint, FNB has strategically invested millions of dollars in local initiatives and relief funds that stimulate job growth, create affordable housing opportunities and foster overall social and economic development.
Visit FNB’s website to learn more about its legacy of community engagement and commitment to diversity and inclusion.
About F.N.B. Corporation F.N.B. Corporation (NYSE: FNB), headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a diversified financial services company operating in seven states and the District of Columbia. FNB’s market coverage spans several major metropolitan areas including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Cleveland, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; and Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham and the Piedmont Triad (Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point) in North Carolina. The Company has total assets of more than $38 billion and nearly 340 banking offices throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. FNB provides a full range of commercial banking, consumer banking and wealth management solutions through its subsidiary network, which is led by its largest affiliate, First National Bank of Pennsylvania, founded in 1864. Commercial banking solutions include corporate banking, small business banking, investment real estate financing, government banking, business credit, capital markets and lease financing. The consumer banking segment provides a full line of consumer banking products and services, including deposit products, mortgage lending, consumer lending and a complete suite of mobile and online banking services. FNB's wealth management services include asset management, private banking and insurance. The common stock of F.N.B. Corporation trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "FNB" and is included in Standard & Poor's MidCap 400 Index with the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) Regional Banks Sub-Industry Index. Customers, shareholders and investors can learn more about this regional financial institution by visiting the F.N.B. Corporation website at www.fnbcorporation.com.
The Planning Commission briefing for the catalytic FNB Financial Center on the Lower Hill April 20, 2021. The development team discusses it's transformative Lower Hill redevelopment and Greater Hill reinvestment plans. View the full presentation below!
BPG and Clay Cove Capital Announce Formation of $5 Million Greater Hill District Opportunity Zone Fund
The Buccini/Pollin Group and Clay Cove Capital are pleased to announce the formation of a $5 million Greater Hill District Opportunity Zone Fund to help maximize the positive community benefits arising from the Lower Hill redevelopment. The Fund is being formed to promote investment in real estate projects in the middle and upper Hill District and along the Centre Avenue corridor, and help address head-on the ongoing challenges of overcoming poverty and advancing sustainable community development in the greater Hill District neighborhood.
The founding investors in the Fund include BPG, Clay Cove Capital and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“We are working to solve the access to capital problem that has been plaguing the Hill District for generations,” said Amachie Ackah, Founder of Clay Cove Capital, an anchor investor in the Fund. “There are residents and entrepreneurs in the Hill District who lack access to capital, and we are offering to bring Opportunity Zone investment to their projects and help the continued economic recovery of the Hill District.”
“We believe that a partnership with Clay Cove Capital, one of the leading Black-owned real estate management firms in the United States, and partnered with the Pittsburgh Penguins and FNB Bank, will allow us to attract investment into this important neighborhood,” said Chris Buccini, Co-President of The Buccini/Pollin Group.
The Lower Hill was recently added to the middle Hill District census tract as part of the 2020 Census, which now includes the Lower Hill redevelopment within the Greater Hill District Opportunity Zone. Because of this designation, investors seeking Opportunity Zone investments now have a federal tax incentive to invest in the entire Hill District.
The Fund will be created to make investments in the middle and upper Hill District neighborhood, including vacant and abandoned properties, improving housing conditions for existing residents, and ensuring overall long-term sustainable investment in the entire Hill District neighborhood.
The Fund is being formed by the Lower Hill development team as an additional coordinated community development strategy under the Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan (CCIP) adopted in 2014. The founding investors of the Fund will work with Councilman Daniel Lavelle, Representative Jake Wheatley, and members of the CCIP Executive Management Committee to identify the best ways to implement this fund in the Hill District.
About Opportunity Zones - Opportunity Zone legislation was passed in 2017 to attract capital to economically distressed areas. The legislation allows for investors to defer capital gains taxes on an investment by reinvesting into a new project in an opportunity zone that will be significantly approved. Ultimately, the Opportunity Zone will help the Hill District by attracting capital that would otherwise not invest.
Wednesday, March 31st from 6:00 - 8:00 PM streaming live via Zoom.
The development team is working alongside the community and stakeholders to deliver the highest commitments to minority-owned, local businesses and bring economic revitalization to the Hill District for neighborhood initiatives. We invite you to this panel discussion about economic impacts of the redevelopment featuring members of the development team. This virtual event will be moderated by Lower Hill historical consultant, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis.
PJ Dick, Mascaro and Massaro Construction will conduct multiple potential bidder education forums. During these sessions, bidders will get a glimpse of the project design, the current time line for the project and timeline for bid bid packages. Most importantly potential bidders will be made aware of the goals of the CCIP that apply to the subcontractor and supplier market. This is the first of at least three sessions.
Watch the recording here:
View and Download the Presentation Deck here:
Thursday March 25, 2021 at 3 PM
PJ Dick, Mascaro and Massaro Construction will conduct multiple potential bidder education forums. Bidders will get a glimpse of the project design, the current time line for the project and timeline for bid bid packages. Most importantly potential bidders will be made aware of the goals of the CCIP that apply to the subcontractor and supplier market. This is the first of at least three sessions.
Lower Hill Redevelopment Minority Workforce Plan Receives Unanimous Approval Today from City's Equal Opportunity Review Commission
The Pittsburgh Penguins and development partner The Buccini / Pollin Group (“Buccini/Pollin”) announced that their Minority and Women Business Enterprise (M/WBE) participation plan for the Lower Hill redevelopment project was approved unanimously today by the City’s independent Equal Opportunity Review Commission (EORC).
Chuck Durham, Business Diversity Manager for the Mayor’s office, notified the Urban Redevelopment Authority in a letter this afternoon that “the Commission voted to approve the plan as presented.”
“This is a historic day for the Lower Hill redevelopment project because it is the first independent confirmation that we are achieving our goals for M/WBE participation, as we have committed under the Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan (CCIP),” said David Morehouse, President and CEO of the Penguins. “Our team reached out to hundreds of M/WBE contractors, and we have already achieved almost 42% participation for minority and women-owned businesses. We now have a detailed plan approved by the independent EORC for advancing to achieve our overall M/WBE goals for the Lower Hill development.”
In his opening remarks to the EORC, Boris Kaplan, Senior Vice President of Development at Buccini Pollin, noted that the project will be “both a well-timed and much-needed economic lift to local contractors, suppliers and consultants and also a new model for inclusive procurement and equitable reinvestment for public and private development across the City.”
Bomani Howze, Vice President of Development at Buccini Pollin and a resident of the Hill District, outlined how the entire Lower Hill development team has been focused on maximizing opportunities for Black and women-owned businesses. “At a time when the Hill District and our entire city is recovering from the pandemic, we are building a bridge from the Lower Hill to generate wealth in the community and invest tens of millions of dollars of construction and operations phase contracts for Black and women-owned businesses.”
Joining Kaplan and Howze at today’s presentation were Janai Smith, the project’s M/WBE inclusion consultant and Managing Director of Pittsburgh-based eHoldings, and Justin Hough, Project Director for PJ Dick, the construction manager.
Contractors and Consultants Interested in MWBE contracting opportunities, please contact:
Janai Smith, Managing Director of Pittsburgh-based eHoldings
The vision for the Lower Hill Open Space is built around incorporating best urban design principles into the creation of vibrant public spaces. The development teams commitments to the community can be clearly seen in the focus on revitalizing Wylie Avenue into a critical pedestrian, recreation and commercial corridor that re-connects the downtown and the Historic Hill District. As part of its Final Land Development Plan for City Planning, the team has submitted a culturally responsive and community-focused public space plan.
The Open Space framework builds on prior activation studies and community planning efforts and creates connectivity of the various linear parks along Wylie Avenue in a cohesive and complementary public open space network. That connectivity is expressed by a grouping of multi-million dollar parklets and accessible open spaces along Wylie Avenue that stitch seamlessly into the Greater Hill District neighborhood and – across the new CAP Park – into downtown. The project will move forward with an integration of public aspirations, anchor tenant and development team requirements, and site issues related to topography, accessibility, storm-water management and infrastructure.
The development team is advancing the first portion of the open space plan to compliment the FNB Financial Center Mixed-Use Project. The initial open space design effort is being led by Gensler and supported by UpStudio Landscapes a local WBE Landscape Architecture firm. Engagement, design guidelines, programming, cultural and historic elements critical to the successful design are being led by BPG's, Bomani Howze and supported by advisor’s Dr. Kimberly Ellis and Hill District architect Lakeisha Byrd of Communion LLC.
Programming, post-construction operations and ongoing maintenance will become the responsibility of the Lower Hill Conservancy, a non-profit owner's association.
We've excited to announce that over $2 million worth of contracts have been completed with minority and women-owned businesses (M/WBE) in professional services. To complete the final stage of pre-development, the development team has fielded a diverse and locally inspired team of project consultants and vendors including:
The development team is working with eHoldings and construction manager PJ Dick to bid and complete tens of millions of dollars worth of construction contracts in phases across dozens of firms over the next 12 months. For a construction industry still reeling from the ongoing and deepening economic downturn related to the COVID-19 pandemic, this project represents a well timed stimulus.
It’s time to tell a new story about Pittsburgh and of this land, the Lower Hill District, in particular. In 1829, a small set of families of Black people settled upon the Hill. At the time, it was known as Prospect Hill, Little Hayti and Arthursburg. With an attractive settlement with a good view, they had found a sweet spot. These sets of families were free and many were abolitionists, who became prominent members of the Underground Railroad. Some years later, [White families] began to settle in the area, as they found it desirable and many of them joined in as abolitionists.
During the late 19th century, immigrants began flowing into what we now know to be the Lower Hill. Upon exiting the train station, they came—the Irish, the Italian, the Jewish, the Russian, the Black Freedmen who became known as African Americans. They all came and settled upon a new life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—and in the Lower Hill. Soon, its seams were bursting and there was urban decay but still hopeful people making the best of the area. After World War II, there were many discussions by the federal government to renew American cities and engage in what we now know to be “urban renewal.” Pittsburgh was the first to be chosen and the Urban Redevelopment Authority was created in order to implement the program and receive the federal funds. Unfortunately, the plans that were made only partially came into fruition and the construction of the Crosstown Highway severed the physical connection between the Historic Hill District and the downtown. Disappointment and protests ensued. Further regional economic decline led to decades of dis-investment.
The area around the former Civic Arena which we call “the 28 acres” remained a series of parking lots and only one high-rise was created out of the many that were designed for the site. While there were many inspiring activities that took place in the Civic Arena, much of the rest of the area was left undeveloped, unfinished and a major disappointment for the next 60+ years. Pittsburgh’s first experiment at urban redevelopment largely failed everyone and African Americans the most. To date, it has remained contested space and the redevelopment potential of the Lower Hill has not been realized.
Enter The Buccini Pollin Group’s historic team.
It was a wonderful experience to help design the CAP Park above the Crosstown Highway and we are working to expand many of the aspects behind the design. As an extension of the CAP Park, the FNB Tower Open Space means that you get to walk up or down Wylie Avenue and explore a gorgeous landscape that is meant to inspire you from top to bottom. There will never just be one thing happening in the Open Space or in the Park. We envision arts entrepreneurs selling their wares, performing onstage, showcasing their designs and knowing that their pieces are sitting comfortably in the offices, hotel rooms and lobbies being created by the development team. We envision some of the best food being offered in food trucks, at retail kiosks, in the food hall and more permanent spaces. The cultural vibrancy of the Open Space depends upon the people who are invited and sustained. And you are invited.
For the last 60 years, the 28 acres has been contested space. Let's make it a celebrated space. It is time for us to write a new chapter of Pittsburgh that tells the progressive history of its past, as well as its future. Let us move forward with a new vision that honors and repairs the past, creates a better design for the future and forges a new path of shared prosperity expressed with this historic partnership.
The Lower Hill development team has been expanded to include four Hill District residents, intended to catalyze BPG’s neighborhood revitalization program in alignment with the Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan (CCIP) that was established in 2014 to guide equitable development on the Lower Hill: