F.N.B. Corporation, a partner in the Lower Hill team and anchor tenant in the FNB Financial Center, on Thursday, September 29, increased its total commitment to $1 million to the Pittsburgh Promise program. Five graduating Pittsburgh Public Schools seniors will be selected annually and named as the “F.N.B. Corporate Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise.” They will have the opportunity to build mentoring and professional relationships with company leaders as they pursue their post-secondary degrees.
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Prepare-to-Prosper partnership with the City and Pittsburgh Public Schools' Career technical Education (CTE) Kick Off
We were delighted to attend Mayor Gainey’s announcement on September 16, of the “Prepare to Prosper” program – a new partnership between the City and Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Career Technical Education Program, highlighting students focused on workforce development. Soon, they will move out of shadowing workers and begin paid internships not only with the city, but in other industries as well, according to Angela Mike, CTE’s Executive Director. The Lower Hill Redevelopment’s Buccini/Pollin Group is one of forty companies to have partnered with the PPS-CTE Program and held a “Career Exploration Day” event earlier this year at PPG Paints Arena with other members of the Development Team. We provided boots for the seniors going into the Carpenter’s Apprenticeship Program, paid senior EMT students’ drivers licenses to become an EMT, which helps to build a pipeline for the development and public safety in the region and especially the Lower Hill Development. In addition, the Lower Hill Team won an Industry Partner Award through both the Pittsburgh Penguin’s David Morehouse and The Buccini/Pollin Group’s Dr. Kimberly C Ellis, for our enthusiastic support and partnership. We will report in coming newsletters regarding exciting internship programs for 2023.
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Members of the Development Team, family and friends attended Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company's presentation of August Wilson's classic drama, "Jitney" during its August - September run. Performed in the back yard of the newly renovated August Wilson House, "Jitney", one of Wilson's earliest and most famous plays, drew crowds from near and far.
This was an especially special event for two members of the The Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG) as August Wilson is the maternal uncle of BPG's Director of Community, Arts and Culture, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis and BPG's VP of Business Development, Bomani Howze's father, Mr. Sala Udin, starred in the role he originated in the 1980's.
The August Wilson House is a treasured community building in the Historic Hill District and childhood home of playwright, August Wilson.
Tuesday, September 13, was a joyous day of food, fun and fellowship at the Historic Hill Community BBQ Celebration at the new Frankie Mae Pace Park, in the Lower Hill District. The event was catered by six Hill District businesses that spoiled us all----Z-Best BBQ’s succulent ribs, Beyond Blessed Catering Co.’s five cheese macaroni and cheese, Eminent Hospitality’s brisket and burgers, Phat Girlz a Cookin’s award-winning greens, Grandma Joan’s Italian iced lemonade and banana pudding, which left us all spoiled and full! Working together with The M Robinson Group, our Director of Community, Arts and Culture, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis, put together a wonderful event with over 100 attendees enjoying games, dancing, conversation and even a pop-up scene from August Wilson’s 1982 play, “Jitney.” Representatives from the Lower Hill Redevelopment team: The Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG), Pittsburgh Penguins, and Clay Cove Capital welcomed community members to meet, informally, and provide the opportunity to learn more about what’s happening on the 28-acre Lower Hill District site and to join in on learning and the workforce, job and business resource hub---the Lower Hill First Source Center. Handouts on our Community Reinvestments and our M/WBE numbers were provided as well. Presentations were followed by a review of Block E contracting opportunities in the "Contractors Circle", with the construction team, featuring presentations by Boris Kaplan, Bomani Howze, Wesley Schwandt, Matt Corace and Olivia Grunseich of BPGS, as well as by M/WBE consultant e.Holdings and the Block E architect Desmone.
Thank you to community members, contractors, food vendors, partners, and friends for making this gathering a success, including the surprise performance by “Jitney” actors, Kevin Brown (Mr. Becker) and Jonathan Berry (Booster). A very special thank you to other Historic Hill District-based business vendors, including DJ Blakk Steel and Prestige Professional Cleaning, Thanks to Northside Tables and Chairs, Family Tent and Zters Port-a-Potty and CDI Printing.
See all the pictures here!
Equitable Development is Possible! The Lower Hill Story.
Panelists from The Lower Hill Development Team spoke about the history of The Lower Hill project and The Buccini/Pollin Group's innovative reinvestment plan to channel at least $50 million to the Historic Hill District at the Netroots Nation conference August 18-20th. Longtime organizers and activists, who are now working in development and education to realize the full potential of their communities, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis, Director of Community, Arts and Culture, Bomani M. Howze, Vice President of Development, R. Daniel Lavelle, City Councilman, District 6, Tracey McCants-Lewis, General Counsel and HR, The Pittsburgh Penguins and Dr. Diamonte Walker, Historic Hill resident were in attendance.
Background: In the 1950s, the City of Pittsburgh was chosen to be the recipient of federal funds to address post-World War II urban renewal. Hence, the first Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in the nation was created and, in 1957, they cut the ribbon for what was to be a brand new cultural district. Urban planning began but was not finished. Promises were made but were not kept. Protests and resistance ensued and in the end, at least 8,000 African Americans, in particular, were displaced.
Today, the second chance at development of the Lower Hill site is afoot. With an organized community, government accountability and corporate citizenship resulting in a "CCIP," The Buccini/Pollin Group discusses how they have the best reinvestment plan in America for the Historic Hill District. Watch the presentation here
The weekend of August 12-14 was a BIG DEAL for the Historic Hill District, City of Pittsburgh, America and the international community, due to the heavily anticipated Grand Opening of the August Wilson House at 1727 Bedford Avenue. Friday August 12th kicked off celebrations with the premiere of August Wilson’s, “Jitney” in the Backyard Theater of the newly renovated boyhood home of August Wilson, which received standing ovations and rave reviews throughout its entire run. On Saturday, Founding Executive Director, Attorney Paul Ellis, along with his sister and original Digital Director, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis, stood alongside architect Rob Pfaffman, August Wilson House Board members, and Hollywood stars Russell Hornsby and Denzel Washington, alongside Mayor Ed Gainey and others, for the ribbon cutting.
Just prior to the cutting of the ribbon, the crowd cheered with elation when Paul A. Ellis received a Commemoration from the City of Pittsburgh from Councilman Danielle Lavelle and Mayor Ed Gainey noting it was “Paul Anthony Ellis, Jr. Day” in the City of Pittsburgh! The large crowd that swept around the August Wilson House heard speeches from Denzel Washington, Wilson’s widow, Constanza Romero, his niece, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis (who is also Lower Hill Team Director of Community, Arts and Culture) and his daughter, Sakina Ansari-Wilson. At one point, there was not a dry eye in sight. The entire Grand Opening was a phased day of twelve hours of activities that began with taking a jitney shuttle to 1727 Bedford Avenue, hitting the red carpet, the celebrity ribbon cutting ceremony, the private tours of the August Wilson House, the catered lunch by Roxanne’s Catering, the African drumming to DJ Blakk Steel, August Wilson Monologue Competition performances and dancing all night long under the tent. The Lower Hill District Team was proud to sponsor this event and we look forward to continuing to support the August Wilson House. The news coverage of this event was seen in national and international news, including the New York Times!
The weekend of August 12-14 is the Grand Opening of the August Wilson House! This is a BIG DEAL for the Historic Hill District, City of Pittsburgh, America and internationally!
Friday, August 12, is the beginning of the celebrations and also the premiere of August Wilson's "Jitney," one of his earliest and most famous plays. This is an especially special event for two members of the BPG Development team as August Wilson is the maternal uncle of BPG's Director of Community, Arts and Culture, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis and Mr. Sala Udin, father of BPG's VP of Business Development, Bomani Howze will be starring in "Jitney" playing the role he originated in the 1980's. This is a family affair you do not want to miss!
Friends of August Wilson House invite you to the official Grand Opening Celebration of the August Wilson House on Saturday, August 13, 2022 at 8PM! The Community House Party will feature DJ Selecta from 8 - 11 PM
To purchase tickets: CLICK HERE
Tickets are $100 per person and include food and one complimentary beverage from the cash bar with curated cocktails, wine and beer.
$500.00 - 5PM to 8PM - VIP Reception with special guests
$100.00 - 8PM to 11PM - Community House Party with DJ Selecta and more
FNB recently increased its Closing Cost Assistance Grant to $5,000, advancing its commitment to borrowers who have low or moderate income or who are purchasing a home in a low- to moderate-income (LMI) community. The Closing Cost Assistance Grant further builds on FNB’s overarching focus on promoting economic equality since the majority of the LMI areas where it is available include historically underserved minority communities.
The Lower Hill Redevelopment Team is searching for a project coordinator with a great skill set! Are you detail oriented? Love charts, forms and reports? An excellent writer? Then this may be the job for you! Please see the job description and how to apply by clicking the button below!
The Lower Hill Team welcomed artists to Frankie Mae Pace Park on Saturday, July 9, for the in-person, Artists Meetup in response to our Call for Artists. Event Planning Team, The M Robinson Group, originally from the Historic Hill District, planned our event and the setup was beautiful. Catering was completed by Grandma Joan’s Catering and Events and the layout was beautiful. The First Source Center table and check-in with Street Team Manager, Denna Zenmon, was in full operation and ran seamlessly and efficiently. The artists were impressed!
The program was great, from the ambience that was created to the professionalism. Director of Community, Arts and Culture, Dr. Kimberly Ellis, welcomed everyone and gave overall expectations. Fred Bonci of LaQuatra Bonci, the landscape designers, came up and shared some introductory thoughts on the meaning and purpose of the future Open Space in the Lower Hill Redevelopment Site, after which Project Manager from Dunham ReGroup, Craig Dunham, shared the process and perspective on the journey ahead. The entire body proceeded to tour the park and, along with Dan MacDowell (of LaQuatra Bonci), it was filled with interesting facts about the creation of the park. Each speaker took turns educating the artists about every section of the Frankie Mae Pace Park, as well as its purpose, function and source of inspiration. One artist works in the Steel Building and said he sees the Sankofa Bird from above on a regular basis and the entire park is a site to behold! He applied before coming!
Baba Art Amir, another artist who helped design the park, told a story in the children's garden and musical area he helped create and after we finished the tour, we had a lovely lunch, did a bit of networking and then departed. The artists said they were very excited and inspired to be a part of the Lower Hill project and they are creatives in many different fields. It appears as though we will have some great submissions for the call for artists! The questions that the artists asked were all answered and it was great to be able to point across the street to the big pile of dirt next to the tower crane and let them know, “we are going to create something beautiful!”
The Frankie Mae Pace Park and its creation set a new standard for the city of Pittsburgh. The demand for local Historic Hill artists inclusion was a demand from Hill leaders, in much the same way that the later CCIP was formed. The collaboration between the SEA, the engineers, the landscape architects, the Office of Public Art, the artists and even PennDOT created a new standard and we should use it as a model throughout the city of Pittsburgh and nationally.
Although it was not the intent, due to the timing of the completion of the park (we began in Fall 2015, opened November 2021), the Frankie Mae Pace Park is the first realization of President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, which includes funding to specifically address the highways that divided communities.
Project Manager, Craig Dunham, reminds us that the creation of the Park was under President Obama’s “Ladders of Opportunity” program, designed to provide funding for projects that would connect communities.
This is a great project and the call for artists highlights how this is a wonderful opportunity for the artists, future tenants and the general public, who will enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Development partner, First National Bank, will be partnering with Carnegie Library for a Diaper & Book distribution on Saturday, July 23 from 10 am - 2 pm
CLP - Hill District, Central Baptist Church’s lower parking lot
Drive-Thru Distribution: 10 am – Noon
▪ Families may drive up to receive a book bundle and two packages of diapers (sizes 0-3). Each family may select up to two sizes of diapers.
Walk-Up Distribution: 1 – 2 pm
▪ Families may walk up to receive a book bundle and two packages of diapers (sizes 0-3). Each family may select up to two sizes of diapers.
Families with babies ages birth through 18 months are welcome. No registration required. While supplies last. See flyer for full details.
Frankie Mae Pace Park Review | July 28th | 6 PM
The Lower Hill Redevelopment team seeks to commission artworks for the first phase of the Lower Hill Redevelopment site in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as part of its Open Space Arts Program. The artwork(s) will be sited in a prominent location or locations throughout the open space on planned parcels G1 and G4 in conjunction with construction of the FNB Financial Center and inspired by the production of the Frankie Mae Pace Park. See Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for complete details.
All submissions must be turned in no later than August 8th at 11:59 AM using the 'click here to submit' button below.
SAVE THE DATES:
Call for Artist Information Session #3 | July 28th | 6 PM
Final Deadline for Submissions | August 8th | 11:59 PM
The “I Am So Hill" Block Party on Saturday, July 9, was a childhood memory-filled experience. The Block Party was created by Historic Hill Resident, Renarda Walker, who lived in public housing but always experienced a sense of community and fun in her neighborhood. She is passionate about children being able to experience their childhood without being plagued with gun violence, the lack of safety and tragic occurrences.
There were plenty of things for children to do, from face-painting to bouncy palaces to swinging and even Double Dutch jump roping. Italian ices of all flavors were had and the grills were fired up with hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken wings, while the onstage emcee, Trina, graced the stage and the deejay played the sounds that kept the adults on their feet doing line dances. Mayor Ed Gainey and Chief of Staff, Jake Wheatley were in attendance, as was the First Source Center Street Team!
The Director of Community, Arts and Culture was there and graced the stage to make an announcement about the First Source Center table and the availability of free T-Shirts, which were a major hit! Other attendees wore “I Am So Hill” T-Shirts in black and white and the street team and Dr. Ellis were grateful that Renarda Walker took a picture with us. She was at the Grand Opening and has been a true supporter from the very beginning! It was great for the Lower Hill Team to be a part of the “I Am So Hill” Block Party on Centre Avenue!
Denna Zenmon joins the Lower Hill’s First Source Center Street Team! As a Team Lead, she adds to a career crafted around supporting and uplifting others – traits mirrored for her in her youth as she observed her mother, as well as her community, the Historic Hill District in Pittsburgh, PA, provide care and assistance to its residents and those in need. They lived by the mantra, “We’re all in this together.”
Denna’s interest in serving and advocating for underserved and underrepresented populations was piqued while in college. Intrigued by courses related to the juvenile justice process, she did not know at the time that this would become her life’s work, but she has found the journey to be immensely fulfilling.
Currently, a Child Support Enforcement Specialist Supervisor, with over 20 years of experience in the area of Human Services for both the County and State government in Pennsylvania, Denna has helped to improve the lives of individuals and families through services and supports. She serves as the liaison between the county assistance offices and the Domestic Relations Sections to ensure the County courts are following the federal guidelines in offering child support services to families.
Denna has had the opportunity and pleasure to make significant changes in her community. For example, during her time working for Children Youth and Families, she saw that there was a need for more foster parents, so she dedicated herself to providing a safe, nurturing environment for children until they could be reunited with their families. Walking the talk by becoming a foster parent herself, her children are her beloved family, by way of adoption and legal custodianship.
Whether she has lent her expertise in preparing briefs for hearings before Administrative Law Judges or helped unaware business owners navigate the Department of Human Services’ policies, procedures, and codes, Denna’s passion is to use her education and experience to support and champion for those around her.
When she was just a middle schooler, her teacher encouraged her to pursue a career in law because of her interest in debate. Attending law school is in her immediate plans as it is the pinnacle of her professional journey, encompassing the values that she holds dear and brings them full circle: People, Compassion, Dignity, Inclusion, Liberty, and Justice.
Denna graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Administration of Justice and a Master of Science Degree from Duquesne University in Leadership and Business Ethics. She is a SEIU 668 member and chief shop steward for supervisors.
She is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated. She enjoys volunteering for organizations such as, Make A Wish Foundation, Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, and 412 Food Rescue. She is also a board member with Mothers of Incarcerated Sons.
The Pittsburgh Penguins had a beautiful float in the Saturday morning, Juneteenth Parade, upon which young people rode in celebration. The Pens’ Delvina Morrow was present on the float that accompanied city-goers in a march from the Hill's, Freedom Corner, to Point State Park in celebration of Juneteenth, a national holiday marking the end of slavery in America. The observance commemorates - June 19, 1865 - when the Union army arrived in Galveston, Texas, to free the slaves in the last state where they were permitted to be held. The Grand Jubilee Juneteenth Parade wound through the Hill and Downtown where musicians performed. Among the marchers were Masons, academic groups, horse-drawn carriages and elected officials.
In another part of town, Duquesne Light Company, one of the Lower Hill First Source Center’s sponsors, held a Juneteenth Celebration at its headquarters and Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis served as the keynote speaker. The joyful event was a barbecue with Italian icees, a deejay, line dancing, poetry and all around good fun. Dr. Ellis provided an historical lesson on what Juneteenth meant in both the origins and future of America, as we move toward “a more perfect union.” Juneteenth celebrations have always, historically, been filled with moments of reflection and one’s purpose in life.