City making plans for Allegheny riverfront
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As the wind whipped unchecked across a former Lawrenceville steel site yesterday, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl launched a year-long planning effort aimed at transforming large stretches of abandoned, undeveloped, or ill-used Allegheny riverfront into havens for jobs, housing and recreation.
Over the next 12 months, the goal will be to create a unified vision for the redevelopment of 6.5 miles of land stretching from the Strip District to Highland Park, involving hundreds of parcels, both publicly and privately owned.
"It's time to get to work. It's time to roll up our sleeves and it's time to figure out what the best and highest use for each parcel of land along the Allegheny River is," Mr. Ravenstahl said.
The effort will involve both large developers like the Buncher Co., which owns a key piece of property near the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and community organizations like Neighbors in the Strip.
City officials will offer the former 21.7-acre Tippins International Inc. site, used as a prop for yesterday's announcement; the city tow pound; and an iconic 14,000-square-foot produce terminal in the Strip to the master plan process.
The mayor sees a mix of potential uses along the 6.5-mile stretch, including industrial, residential, office and cutting-edge green technology. One major goal, he added, is to reconnect neighborhoods like Lawrenceville to the river.
"These rivers used to be used for industrial purposes, to carry goods up and down them. Today we have the opportunity to use them as amenities, as an asset to connect them to neighborhoods and give people the recreational opportunities they're calling for," he said.
But ultimately, he stressed, it will be for residents, business owners and other stakeholders from the Strip to Highland Park to decide the fate of the various parcels.
Toward that end, the city Urban Redevelopment Authority has hired Perkins Eastman to conduct the $350,000 master plan. It intends to hold three community meetings over the next year to gather input.
A 10- to 12-member steering committee that includes representatives from the city, the URA, Riverlife, companies like Buncher, and community organizations will oversee the effort. It will hold its first planning meeting today. An advisory committee also will be formed.
Recommendations are expected in about a year. They will be incorporated into the city's comprehensive riverfront master plan scheduled for completion next year.
First Published April 29, 2009 12:00 am