Written by The New Pittsburgh Courier
WELCOMING CHANGE—Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto thanks residents for coming to see the development plans for the Bakery Square 2.O apartment and office complex in East Liberty. (Photo by J.L. Martello.)
by Christian Morrow
Courier Staff Writer
Even as the bids for the sale of the former Schenley High School building go to the Pittsburgh School Board for review, demolition of the Reizenstein building where Schenley’s last students were moved, is scheduled to start this week to make way for Bakery Square 2.0.
The $130 million project will bring new living and office space to the Penn Avenue corridor in East Liberty, and a projected 1,277 additional jobs.
During a Jan. 16 community meeting in Shadyside organized by Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto, Todd Reidbord, partner in developer Walnut Capital, revealed that initial plans to include single family, stand alone homes on the site had been scrapped in favor of more apartments.
“We determined the employees (at the original Bakery Square across Penn Avenue) prefer rental apartments,” he said. “It’s something we know more about.”
As now, envisioned in the site plan, the completed project will consist of two 175-unit apartment buildings that would sit behind three office buildings totaling 400,000 square feet, fronting Penn Avenue. The plan also includes 57 rental townhouses, an underground parking garage, new streets, bike paths, and both public and private green spaces—and green is an operative word with the entire plan.
“We plan to recycle nearly everything,” said Reidbord. “The steel from the Reizenstein building will be reused in construction, and the concrete will be crushed and used for fill and as road base.”
Additionally, the plan calls for porous sidewalks, green roofs, and rain gardens to be employed throughout the side to reuse rainwater and mitigate runoff.
“It becomes the model for green development on a large site,” said Peduto, who is behind several of the city’s environmental initiatives.
One point that was not a model, he noted, was the lack of any representation from Black neighborhoods at the meeting, even though the Kingsley Association and the Larimer Consensus Group had been invited.
“When we had meetings about the larger Penn Avenue picture, they were packed and diverse. So we will double down on outreach to make sure all neighborhoods are included,” Peduto said. “I do know that Todd and Community Empowerment Association President and CEO Rashad Byrdsong had a very positive meeting about his folks participation in the demolition and construction. And beyond that, someone is going to have to maintain these buildings and grounds afterwards.”
Peduto said the project should bring together East End neighborhoods and, in at least one instance, is literally rebuilding bridges that were torn down in the 1960s and separated Shadyside and East Liberty.
Though the timetable for the development calls for construction to begin on the residential units in March, the construction schedules for the townhouses, office space, landscaping, pedestrian throughways and roadwork will overlap. If there are no unexpected delays, the apartments will be finished in June 2014, the townhomes a year later and the entire complex completed in September 2016.