Scenic Pittsburgh Hill District Greenspace Restoration Proposal

Scenic Pittsburgh seeks a grant of $20,000 from the Hunt Foundation for developing a publicly accessible urban greenspace in the Hill District of Pittsburgh.

This site has been chosen with reference to the The Hill District Greenprint (2009), Greater Hill District Master Plan (2011) and the Hill District Vacant Property Strategy (2013), and will take into account the emerging Greater Hill District Master Plan from the City of Pittsburgh. We undertake any of the below work in accord with the goals of contributing to the restoration of the fabric of the Hill District community, providing opportunities for Hill District residents and serving as a catalyst for market-driven investment throughout the neighborhood.

In creating this proposal, we consulted with several community leaders, and have met and discussed our proposal with the Hill District CDC. We remain committed to working closely with the Hill CDC as we move forward, and if funded, we intend to present our plan at the quarterly Hill District Community Meeting for further input and to build community consensus around the project.

This project would be managed by Scenic Pittsburgh, but we would draw on the contributions of a broad coalition of non-profits and organizations that do greenspace development, cleanup and long-term stewardship work in Hill District neighborhoods. This partnership project could serve as a model for greenspace restoration across the city.

Site

The site was suggested by the Hill District CDC, and occupies 5 vacant lots between Wylie Avenue and Centre Avenue, along with a right-of-way. Two of the lots are owned by the CDC and three owned by the URA. All lots are 20 feet wide, and the right-of-way (ROW) is 15 to 20 feet wide.

This site has a number of advantages for a prospective greenspace. It lies at a major locus of development for the Hill District, and is adjacent to the Hill CDC’s newly-opened Nafasi on Centre Artists in Residence Program. It will be just down the street from the New Granada Square Development, which is due to start spring 2021.

The configuration of these abandoned lots would make for a unique, urban, multi-use greenspace that would support the strategic vision of the Hill District as an arts and cultural destination, and offer a green gathering space for the community. Because of its location between buildings, there is ample wall space suitable for art and vertical plantings.

If this proposal is accepted, we would opt to have the URA transfer ownership of the Centre Ave properties to the Hill District CDC and work with the local community to put a maintenance plan in place.

Site Elements

Scenic Pittsburgh believes greenspace work should always be undertaken with respect not only to the environmental and scenic beauty aspects of the site, but also to its community context – its history and culture. This is doubly true of any greenspace development in the Hill District, as the community continues to deal with a legacy of the development decisions of the 1950s and 1960s, and as it grows as a cultural and arts destination.  

  • Greenspace and Scenic Beauty Elements. These would be chosen and incorporated in collaboration with the Hill District community and would feature artisans and labor drawn from the community and local nonprofits. There would be an emphasis on durable, economical, low-maintenance elements. These could include:
    • Walking paths
    • Wildflower garden
    • Native plantings
    • Green Wall
    • Informational signage
    • Permanent concrete seating
  • Art and Cultural Elements. These elements and their cultural and artistic themes would be developed and chosen in collaboration with the Hill District community and would feature artists, artisans and labor drawn from that community. Elements could include:
    • Murals
    • Sculpture garden
    • Art display space
    • Performance area

Prospective Community Partners

Hill CDC
Hill District Consensus Group
Local artists
Neighborhood contractors

Community Consultants

Terri Baltimore
Bekezela Mguni

Prospective Nonprofit Partners

Allegheny Cleanways – Site cleanup
Grounded – Landscape Design and Maintenance plan
Landforce – Site Cleanup and landscaping
Pittsburgh Student Conservation Association – Site cleanup and landscaping

Future Projects

We explored several other sites in the Hill District before settling on the area at Wylie and Centre. These included two sites we believe have great potential as greenspaces for the community: Arcena Street overlook and Wick Street near Diaz. Although these projects lie outside of our current proposal, the potential for these spaces is so great that we wanted to invite the Hunt Foundation to consider them as possibilities for future proposals. Details and photographs of these sites.