Monday, December 19, 2011

Panello Boutique in Lawrenceville

Panello Boutique has opened on Butler Street in Lawrenceville, just in time for the holiday shopping season.  Located at 3703 Butler Street, the shop features women’s clothing from small and independent designers, including jackets, blazers, jeans, accessories, and handbags.

Boutique items are offered at a lower, more affordable price point than many other boutiques. Most clothing items are under $100, and jewelry, both new and vintage, ranges between $14 and $75.  In addition to clothing and jewelry, Panello is currently carrying screen-printed iPad cases, and Pittsburgh-themed t-shirts designed by Julie Dinardo.


Lawrenceville
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Solar Company Opens Office In Green Tree

Sunetric, an Hawaiian solar company, has opened an office at Foster Plaza 5, Suite 300, 651 Holiday Dr., Green Tree. It also has offices offices in Washington and Denver on the mainland.

Founded in 2004, Sunetric is one of the country's largest renewable energy firms.  With approximately 100 employees, it manages every stage of the design, development and installation of photovoltaic (PV) systems nationwide.  It has designed and installed 40% of net-metered PV systems in Hawaii, is responsible for over 100,000 solar panels and 30 megawatts of solar across the United States, and is currently developing solar farms totalling more than 30 MW.

Green Tree
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
Sunetric

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Robot Repair Shop In Downtown Pittsburgh???

"Fraley's Robot Repair Shop" at 210 6th Ave

If you do a double-take (or triple-, quadruple-take) while passing by 210 6th Ave in Downtown's Cultural District ..... You're not alone.  Right there in the window of Fraley's Robot Repair Shop is an anxious-looking robot apparently looking for a way out.  But who in the world is repairing robots?  Who even has any robots to repair?

The truth is that robots are not actually being meticulously restored to mint condition in our tech-savy city.   And Fraley's is not a repair shop of any kind, either.  Rather, it is part of "Project Pop-Up: Downtown", a public art installation created by Toby Atticus Fraley, artist from Washington, Pa.  The installation, which was launched publicly during November’s 51st Annual Light Up Night, gives downtown passers-by a chance to glimpse into a future wherein robot ownership – and  the bothersome repairs that accompany it – may be quite commonplace.

"Project Pop-Up: Downtown" is a partnership between the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Department of City Planning and Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) which aims to inject new life into abandoned downtown Pittsburgh storefronts, playing off of the many other positive downtown developments already underway. More than 90 entrepreneurs from throughout the nation submitted grant proposals in hopes of making their “pop-up” dreams a reality in Pittsburgh. These applicants were whittled down to 12 recipients – seven of which launched their projects in November.

Learn more about "Project Pop-Up: Downtown" and the other six “pop-ups” by clicking on the link below.

Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
Project Pop-up: Downtown

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Summer 2012 Groundbreaking For Gardens At Market Square

Artist's rendition of Gardens At Market Square
Washington County developer, Millcraft Industries, plans to break ground on a $76.6 million office and hotel project by midsummer, marking its fourth major redevelopment Downtown.  Millcraft's chief operating officer says the company hopes to have the Gardens at Market Square completed in the first quarter of 2014. The project, located on the south end of Forbes Avenue between Wood Street and Market Square, will feature 95,000 square feet of office space, a 175-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel, 23,000 square feet of retail space, and a 325-space parking garage.

Office and retail portions will hopefully open by December 2013 and the hotel by March 2014.  Two unnamed tenants have already signed up to take half the office space.  Millcraft also will be looking for "destination" type retail, as well as entertainment and restaurants, to fill the retail space.

Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

DrinkyPal At Your Service In The Strip District

   
Clique Vodka has QR Code iPhone app on back label.

Strip District-based Premier Innovations Group believes every responsible drinker deserves a DrinkyPal, an appropriately named iPhone app that appears as a prominently displayed QR.  The importer says it's the first liquor bottle in the state to have an iPhone app right on the label, a promotional text code that uses geotagging to  pull up a list of the nearest taxi companies and hotels, should the need arise. The app is available through the iTunes store for free as well.
 
Founded in 2007, Premier develops private label liquor brands--Clique Vodka and Don Panteleon tequila to start--and markets them through viral, event-driven entertainment and social media outlets. Faded Industry, a subsidiary of Premier that coordinates events and promotions, is also based in Pittsburgh. The firm employees 15 full-time and 50 part-timers who assist with promotions. 
 
The company recently opened an office in Philadelphia, is renovating their 6000 square-foot corporate headquarters, located across from the Altar Bar, and is planning for more growth and hiring. The interactive bottle is available in three states; the company plans to expand across the U.S.
 
 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Historic Designation for Historic McKeesport Hotel

Penn-McKee Hotel has stood vacant for many years

In April 1947, at what was then McKeesport's premier hotel, the Penn-McKee, a 90-minute debate on labor law took place between future U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon.  The freshmen congressmen took opposing positions on the proposed Taft-Hartley Act, which, when it became law, eventually curtailed much of the labor activism of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal.  Thirteen years after that debate, the two politicians faced off again as candidates for the presidency on national television. While the audience and stakes were greater in that debate, local groups have ensured that McKeesport's role in the early history of two giants of American politics is not forgotten.  At its October board meeting, the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission approved a historical marker for the site of the 1947 debate.

The designation caps a campaign by the McKeesport Preservation Society and the Battle of Homestead Foundation to obtain the coveted blue-and-gold state historic marker to be erected outside the hotel, which now stands vacant.  The unveiling of the marker and a symposium on the debate and the Taft-Hartley legislation are planned for April 21, 2012, the 65th anniversary of the debate.   Society director Maryann Huk said her group is forming partnerships to start restoration to reopen the Penn-McKee Hotel on Fifth Avenue, which had hosted numerous civic and private events since it opened in 1926.

McKeesport Preservation Society
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ross Park Mall Gets Mini Face-Lift





Five Ross Park Mall stores were completely remodeled in recent months.  The stores are Gymboree, which had the most recent reopening on Nov. 22, along with Swarovski Crystal, Bath & Body Works, New York & Company and Pottery Barn.

Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
Ross Park Mall

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pittsburgh Still A Bright Spot On Real Estate Horizon



Pittsburgh's strong housing market continued in November when residential homes placed under sales agreements increased 17.9 percent over the same month last year.  Sales agreements were placed on 2,591 homes, compared with 2,197 a year ago, according to the West Penn Multi-List, which covers 13 counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  Washington County had the highest increase, 56.7 percent -- 235 homes compared with 150 a year ago -- while Butler County, with 215 sales versus 178, was up 21.4 percent.  Allegheny County, with 1,304 homes compared with 1,181, was up 10.4 percent while Westmoreland County, with 341 homes versus 300, was up 13.7 percent.  From January through November, the average price is up 4.1 percent at $157,022 compared with $150,840.

Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tiramisu Now A Treat For PAT Buses




In July, Carnegie Mellon University announced a public transit iPhone app that has grown steadily since that time.  The university has now expanded on the platform with their current release of the Android version.  These apps track the location of public transit vehicles using riders' smartphones. Riders can tell other riders where and how full buses are.

Tiramisu, Italian for "pick me up," uses the GPS feature in smartphones to identify the rider's location and display a list of nearby bus stops, and when the next vehicle is expected to arrive.  When the rider boards, he or she hits a button that allows the Tiramisu server to track the vehicle and issue information to riders farther along the route. The rider also tells the system how full the bus is. If no one is using the Tiramisu application on a particular bus, the system uses accumulated historical data to predict arrival times. And if that is not available, it will deliver arrival times based on the Port Authority schedules -- which is usually the case for now, until more riders are participating.

Another Tiramisu feature is the ability of riders to instantly report any problems or make suggestions to the Port Authority. If a seat is broken, for example, the rider can take a photo, add text and notify the authority, and the message will automatically convey the time, bus and location from which it was sent. So far, CMU officials report that nearly 4,800 iPhone users and 930 Android users have tried the app.

Project leaders are hoping that over time it will blossom into a full-fledged real-time tracking system that will enable riders with smartphones to know when the next bus is coming, and whether they'll get a seat. The app can be downloaded from the iTunes Store, Android Market or the project's website, www.tiramisutransit.com , which also has a tutorial and frequently asked questions page.

Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
PAT Transit

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mellon Arena Christmas Ornaments!



The Civic Arena will probably be coming down after much dispute and arguments by those on both sides of the issue.  But whether you are pro or con, the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation has come up with a very cool use for the arena's famous steel roof.  They are offering two Christmas ornaments, hand-hammered from pieces of the steel roof.

The pieces were designed and produced by Wendell August Forge in Grove City. One side depicts either the Civic Arena with a Downtown backdrop or the logo of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who played there from 1967 to 2010. The back of each ornament bears an authenticity stamp and the initials of the artisan who made the piece. They weigh about a pound and a half each, and measure roughly 4 by 5 inches.   They are priced at $29 each plus shipping and can be purchased at the foundation's web site. Proceeds will fund a new sports program in Allegheny County schools.

If you do plan on ordering, you'd better do it quick!  1000 were sold in the first 3 hours after the press release went out on Tuesday. 



Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bike Racks On ALL Buses


Port Authority Transit buses have had a face lift. The entire fleet of buses had been outfitted with mounted bike racks. The installation of the bike racks should open up a wide variety of recreational opportunities for cyclists. For example, city dwelling mountain bikers will now have easier access to urban trails such as those at Frick Park which are considered the best mountain biking trails available inside the city limits.  You could ride to the trail, but a lot of times mountain bikes aren't suitable for riding on city streets.  So being able to jump on a bus and take your bike to the trail is pretty huge.


Conversely, city cyclists can now easily head to the suburbs and ride beautiful country trails or experience portions of the Montour Trail that may not have been easily accessible before. The buses can also transport those looking to pedal the Great Allegheny Passage to trailheads in McKeesport and Duquesne.
 
For suburban cyclists who may fear city meter readers or shy away from the high price of a city parking garage, the bus bike racks make it easy to access the city trails.  A lot of people come into the city on the weekends to ride the trails.  Every bus goes to Downtown and the trail system starts there, so that just makes life very easy for all biking enthusiasts. 





Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011 Dirty Dozen Bike Race

Steve Cummings, overall winner of the Saturday's "2011 Dirty Dozen Bike Race"


It started out in 1983 with a quirky idea among 5 friends .... Outrageous bike rides where they could challenge themselves and hang out with their buddies.  They decided on a "Dirty Dozen" Bike race where they would take on twelve of the area's steepest hills.  Why not celebrate one of our biggest "natural resources" ...... our hills.

The friendly, low-key, quirky race for five has grown over the years to a friendly, low-key, quirky race with over 300 participants this year.  Even with increases to these numbers, organizer Danny Chew, one of the original co-founders, still resists making the event more formally organized.  Even though there is now a $15 registration fee, the grass-roots race which is now Pittsburgh's biggest bike race, still doesn't take out permits with the cities it runs through, there's no title sponsor, and all finish lines are hand-drawn orange chalk lines on the streets.

This year, anticipating more riders, Mr. Chew rounded up more volunteer marshals to help control traffic and watch the cyclists at each of the 87 intersections they cross during the six hours they are out on the streets of Pittsburgh and several surrounding suburbs. He also asked his two supporters, Big Bank Bikes and Eat'n Park, to help out a bit more with funding and contributions.  Brooks Broadhurst, vice president of Eat'n Park and a cyclist, came out to help as a marshal and contributed Smiley Cookies, peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and hot chocolate.

Two years ago, Pittsburgh Police let Chew know that the event was becoming "unwieldy." They asked him to not take the cyclists through the Liberty Tunnel on the way back into the city near the end of the race.  He stopped going through the tunnel because he wanted to remain on good terms with them.  Mr. Chew, a nationally renowned long-distance cyclist who has twice won the Race Across America, still resists the idea of making it an officially sanctioned race.

Many who have supported the race and spread the word of its insane beauty over the years believe that its current popularity means it will soon have to change.  300 cyclists simultaneously clambering to the top of hills with a MINIMUM 20 percent grade, on narrow streets designed two centuries ago, is at least a very good definition of "unweildy."

Only a couple dozen riders ever hope to score a point in the race -- the top 10 men and top five women up each hill get points in descending order.  The one with the most cumulative points at the end of the day is declared the overall winner.  The rest of the racers are merely trying to complete each hill, whether riding, walking or whatever.  Walking up the hills does not count as completing a hill, however.

 
Bob Stumph had just finished 4th in the race to the top of Canton Avenue, the steepest of this year's "Baker's Dozen" 13 hills.  Nearly 200 spectators lined both sides of the 100-yard-long cobblestone street to cheer on other cyclists trying -- many in vain -- to climb the 37 percent grade hill.

Ann-Marie Alderson of Etna won the women's race for the first time, one of only three women to finish every hill out of 13 women who competed. In the men's race, Steve Cummings from Lawrenceville, won the men's race for the eighth time in a row. Before the race he insisted he was "scared" because it was "so much pain" to contemplate doing the race again -- a sentiment he couldn't completely let go, even after winning.  "I don't want to come back," he said with a smile while leaning on his bike, still breathing heavily after completing the last hill on Tesla Street in Hazelwood. "I hope it snows a lot next year so we don't have to do it."

"Well, racing this is like hitting yourself with a hammer: When you stop, it feels real good," said Jim Switzer, 56, a high school automotive technology teacher from Dimock, Pa., who came out for his first race Saturday.

But with all of this year's success, the question remains, would Mr. Chew allow it to become more professionally run with a title sponsor and all that that means? He would, though he conceded, "It is a little upsetting, because it started so small, and it was kind of nice when I knew everybody in the race, but there's something nice about having hundreds of people trying all of these hills."

MetroPittsburghRealEstate.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Boutique in Squirrel Hill

Jordanna Younger, owner of Chic Boutique
Jordanna's dad, Irv Younger, owned a real estate company on Murray Ave in Squirrel Hill.  So after returning to Pittsburgh from Los Angeles, Jordanna was very happy to find just the right spot for her new boutique ...... 2236 Murray Ave, a few doors away from where her dad's business used to be. 

The 24-year-old Squirrel Hill native has had a longtime interest in fashion and wanted to be able to offer Pittsburghers men and women's clothing from Los Angeles and New York.  The shop carries dress and casual clothes, accessories and women's shoes, all hand-picked by Jordanna.  The merchandise will most likely appeal to teens through 30-somethings and is largely priced below $150.

Chic Boutique is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. 
 
 
Chic Boutique
MetroPittsburghRealEstate.com


Monday, November 21, 2011

Fox Chapel Teen CEO of Her Own Company

Lani Lazzari, 17-yr-old CEO of Simple Sugars

17-year-old Lani Lazzari of Fox Chapel has dealt with eczema and other skin problems for years.  Because of this, she has spent more than a third of her life perfecting a formula for smoother skin.  Lani's first scrub creations were given as gifts when she was 11. Her mother, Gina Lazzari, asked her children to hand-make presents for family and friends. The scrubs were so well-received that Lani went on to create an entire line of body, facial and foot scrubs and Simple Sugars was born. She started with ingredients found in the family kitchen and still buys sugar at local grocery stores.

Simple Sugars is the Pittsburgh-based, all-natural skincare company she started in 2005.  She knew there were a lot of chemicals in other skin products and her instincts told her that if you can't eat it, you shouldn't put it on your body.  So her line is all about being natural.

She has had to give up many things that normal teens love, but she has been happy with her choices because she is passionate about what she is doing.

Simple Sugars offers 15 varieties of body scrubs (including special seasonal scents), four facial scrubs and a peppermint foot scrub. A 5-ounce jar of body scrub is $9.95, a 5-ounce facial scrub is $14.95 and a 5-ounce foot scrub is $9.95.

In 2010, Lani launched products for vegans, and, in June, introduced a line for men called Smooth. All products are made by hand in her home.

The products have been featured in Lucky Magazine, Teen Vogue, Allure and Self. Products are available online and at Giant Eagle Market District stores, Soergel Orchards in Franklin Park and So Me in Fox Chapel. Lani says she as sold more than 2,500 orders so far this year.

"I think it is really awesome," says mom Gina Lazzari, who works for her daughter. "I am so very proud of her."

Earlier this fall, mother and daughter embarked on cross-country trip from Sept. 15 to Oct. 27. The journey from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles included 26 cities where they shared the story with girls and women, encouraging them to follow their dreams and create their own opportunities for financial independence.


MetroPittsburghRealEstate.com
Simple Sugars Web Site

Friday, November 18, 2011

VERY Interesting Foreclosure Lawsuit



A Plum man has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the process by which millions of mortgages have been turned into investment vehicles, and then made the subjects of foreclosure filings.  In a complaint filed in U.S Disctrict Court, Jayson Schott said he got a $97,500 adjustable rate mortgage from America's Wholesale Lender in 2004. The rate went up, and he went into default. Bank of America, which bought America's Wholesale Lender, filed for foreclosure in 2008.

In the meantime, though, Mr. Schott's mortgage was "securitized", which means it was bundled into an investment vehicle called a Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit or REMIC.   REMICs are tax-exempt investments and thousands of shareholders have bought stakes in REMICs, according to the lawsuit by his Durham, N.C., attorney Luke Lucas.

"The mortgage thus became a stock", Mr. Lucas wrote.  Because mortgages and stocks are entirely separate under U.S. law, it ceased to become a loan secured by a house, according to the lawsuit.  Furthermore, when it went into default, the investors got a tax credit from the IRS, further invalidating the mortgage note. So, according to Attorney Lucas, the foreclosure of Jayson Schott's home was invalid because, in essence, the mortgage ceased to be a mortgage the moment it was securitized.

"You can't make oranges out of orange juice, and once the note is securitized, it is orange juice," Mr. Lucas said in a phone interview.

Mr. Lucas said he has filed several dozen similar lawsuits nationally, though this is the first in Western Pennsylvania. If his contention were broadly approved by courts, it could undermine efforts to collect or foreclose on millions of mortgages, and he acknowledged that it would "take a brave judiciary" to do that.

The lawsuit alleges violations of multiple federal laws, and seeks cancellation of Mr. Schott's debt, repayment of interest paid times three, and damages including punitive damages. It has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry. Besides Bank of America and several of its subsidiaries, the lawsuit names Bank of New York Mellon as a defendant, because it became the trustee for the investment vehicle.


Law Offices of Lucas & Nowak
MetroPittsburghRealEstate.com

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bakery Square Might Expand


The development group responsible for Bakery Square wants to acquire the former Reizenstein school building and replace it with a $119 million project called Bakery Square 2.0 that would include housing, retail and office space.  The proposal was included in the lone bid for the Reizenstein building, one of three city school buildings that are being offered for sale by Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Bakery Square 2.0 is a partnership that includes Walnut Capital and RCG Longview. It offered to buy the site for $5.4 million, demolish the school building and replace it with a $119 million development.


The proposal calls for replacing the "functionally obsolete building" with about 20 new single-family homes and more than 70 new rental townhouses -- in the rear of the site near existing housing -- as well as about 400,000 square feet of first-class office/retail space on Penn Avenue.

Reizenstein is on Penn Avenue, across the street from the new Bakery Square, which was a project of Walnut Capital and RCG Longview. Bakery Square is the home of Google, a Spring Hill Suites Hotel and other businesses. Bakery Square's early plans included a residential component that didn't work out.


Bakery Square 2.0 developers said they plan to improve street lights, sidewalks and bike paths along Penn Avenue.  The proposal included letters of support from the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the Pittsburgh Technology Council and Carnegie Mellon University.




Bakery Square
Larimer
MetroPittsburghRealEstate.com

Monday, October 17, 2011

Even Larimer Is Seeing New Development!

Community and Business Leaders (from left to right):  Scott Smith of
East End Brewing, Chris Koch of GTECH, Craig Marcus of
Marcus Studio, and Neil Stauffer of Penn's Corner Farm Alliance.

Lots of surprising developments in Larimer!  Equipment and supplies are being loaded into a warehouse in the 6500 block of Hamilton because Sweet Tammy's Baking Co. is moving in.  Just three months ago, GTECH Strategies moved into their new quarters next door and has already sublet space to Penn's Corner Farm Alliance, a Regional Sustainability Consulting firm.

Scott Smith had no idea when he finally found the right place to expand the East End Brewing Co. that he was getting in on a Larimer wave.  What seems like sudden synergy in Larimer is the payoff from years of tending one vacant lot after another. Nested against East Liberty and Shadyside, Larimer was ripe for a strategy in 2008 after residents, business owners and other advocates finished their neighborhood master plan.

Rob Stephany of the Urban Redevelopment Authority says they ahve been working for the last four to five years on a housing plan for Larimar which will help that neighborhood get a shot at a piece of the new economy that seems to be unfolding in Pittsburgh.  As proposed, it will bring 70-100 units of mixed-income rental to a chunk of land along East Liberty Boulevard to Larimer Avenue and then into the heart of Larimer Avenue to Meadow. There seems to be a market for young new people who aren't afraid of places like Larimer.

Nearby developments in East Liberty and infrastructure improvements, including the $7 million Penn Circle conversion, should have a domino effect in Larimer.

Furniture maker Craig Marcus moved his studio into a Hamilton Avenue warehouse seven years ago and purchased a second warehouse down the street in October. GTECH moved in as the first tenant in April.  GTECH, or Growth Through Energy and Community Health, had filled a large lot on Larimer Avenue with sunflowers to decontaminate the land several years ago. That land is now a community garden a block long. Across Larimer Avenue, another large vacant lot will become an expansion of the "Village Green" that the Larimer Consensus Group conceived during the planning process.


The mayor's office insists that "Larimer's day will come."  Maybe this is the official start.


Larimer
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate

Monday, September 26, 2011

Walk To Cure Psoriasis


The National Psoriasis Foundation will host the local Walk To Cure Psoriasis in Oakland's Schenley Park.  Registration will be at 8 a.m., with the walk beginning at 9 a.m.  Participants will have the opportunity to choose between 1K and 5K courses. Registration is free and participants who raise $100 or more will receive a walk T-shirt.  Proceeds from the walk will benefit the foundation's research, educational and advocacy programs. For more information or to register, call 877-825-9255 or go to www.walk.psoriasis.org/pittsburgh-walk .

Friday, September 2, 2011

Aspinwall Marina To Be Part of River Park And Trail

Aspinwall Marina




Friends of the Riverfront received a $200,000 donation from Highmark making its Aspinwall Riverfront Park a go.  That was the last piece needed to buy the $2.3 million Aspinwall Marina including it in a park and trail project.  The purchase is expected to close before Sept 30th.


Friends of the Riverfront plans to retain the marina while creating a 10-acre community park to include a one-mile trail through it.  Highmark's donation assures it the right to name the trail.  A spokesperson for Highmark said they made the donation because the project seemed very important to the area and they felt the development of the new trail would promote health and wellness.


Aspinwall
Aspinwall Marina
MetroPittsburghRealEstate.com


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bridgewater BookFest Sept 10th



Back after a one-year absence, the Bridgewater BookFest on Sept. 10 promises to be as strong as ever. About 30 authors -- some traveling from Maryland, New York and Virginia -- will sign and sell books, and talk about their work.  Founded by local author Valentine J. Brkich, the festival drew thousands of people in 2008 and 2009, its first two years. With a move from Bridgewater to Beaver and two young kids, Brkich didn't have time to run the festival last year but plans on making it a biennial event in the future.

Besides the authors' appearances, engineering students from Robert Morris University will conduct children's activities. And vendors -- including a woman who makes purses out of book covers -- will sell food and book-related items. Drawings for two e-readers also will be held.

The event will be held on Bridge St in Bridgewater, PA from 10am to 3pm on Sept 10th.  Admission is free.

Bridgewater BookFest
Bridgewater, PA
MetroPittsburghRealEstate.com

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Allegheny Grows" More Urban Farms



Allegheny County officials announced Monday that they are looking for applications from more municipalities and neighborhood groups interested in participating in the third year of the "Allegheny Grows" program.  Communities and organizations selected will get gardening supplies and technical support for two years. 

The program's benefits extend beyond providing a source of vegetables for food banks.  "Allegheny Grows" teaches communities how to develop and operate urban farms and community food gardens. They create a catalyst for community development, job training, environmental stewardship and youth education. Such gardens also reduce urban storm water runoff, minimize erosion, absorb carbon dioxide and reflect as much as 25 percent of the sun's heat, according to the county. They also can provide shelter for wildlife and support migratory bird species.

During the first two years of the program, gardens and urban farms have been set up in Millvale, McKees Rocks, Penn Hills and Wilkinsburg in addition to Bellevue. Plans call for expanding the program to at least two more communities next spring. Allegheny Grows programs are limited to municipalities and organizations operating in communities where at least 47 percent of residents qualify as low- to moderate-income families.  More information is available by calling 412-350-1198 or visiting the Economic Development Department Web site at economic.alleghenycounty.us. Click on the "Allegheny Grows Application" under the "Features" listing on the right-hand side of the page.

Potential applicants must attend one of two information sessions scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 7 in the Millvale Community Center or 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 in the Wilkinsburg Housing Resource Center.  Completed applications must be postmarked or submitted in person by Sept. 30. Interviews and site visits will take place during October with awards announced in November.





Friday, August 26, 2011

Community Meeting With PWSA To Address Flooding



There will be a community meeting with Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl & Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority on Sept 6th at 6pm at Winchester Thurston School in Shadyside.  (555 Morewood Ave, 15213)  The officials will be there to listen to public comment and answer public questions about the unusual flooding which has occurred in the East End over this last year.

Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority
Winchester Thurston School

Thursday, August 25, 2011

McKees Rocks Gets "Jiffy" Park

Volunteers "create" Third Street Park in McKees Rocks

The flat 3.2-acre Third Street Park in McKees Rocks received a mountain of mulch on Friday morning but was otherwise barren except for a picnic pavilion that had been erected earlier this summer by 25 corporate volunteers.  But by 3 o'clock, the park had a KaBOOM! playground with slides, swings, ladders and other climbing devices in vivid shades of orange, yellow and blue.

More than 200 corporate and community volunteers -- including Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma-- labored mightily to excavate the mulch mountain. That was after they dug holes, mixed and poured cement, installed playground equipment and built a gazebo, a horse shoe pit, eight picnic tables and four benches. The workers used shovels to load mulch into wheel barrows and big sheets of plastic and rakes to spread mulch around the swings and slides and into a winding walkway. Though a mid-morning storm with thunder and lightning mandated a 30-minute halt to construction, workers beat the 3 p.m. completion deadline by 10 minutes.

The Pens sent 45 employees from the front office and Mr. Bylsma. They worked the entire playground construction shift, with the coach wearing a purple do-rag on his head and the same grey teeshirt worn by all the volunteers.

The corporate sponsor of this endeavor was the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. The group is spending $15 million over three years to build or fix up 2,000 playgrounds across the country.  About $75,000 went to the Third Street playground. Forty Snapple Group employees worked on the McKees Rocks project. Other volunteers include elected officials and employees of McKees Rocks, the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation and organizers from KaBOOM! as well as borough residents. Duquesne Light Co., which sent volunteers in June to build the pavilion, returned on Friday to help with the playground.
 
Neighborhood children were consulted about what equipment should go into their park. Some of them even showed up to help, including Andy Cochran, a fourth-grade student. "This is like my second home," he said of the park that is within walking distance of his house. "I've been here since 10:30 and I've done a little bit of everything, including hauling mulch."

Future improvements are planned for Third Street Park, including the installation of bocci courts.

McKees Rocks
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate

Monday, August 15, 2011

Good Things Happening In East Liberty!!

Emily & Sten Carlson work on their Borland Green rowhouse.

For many years, Maria Piantanida has been part of a group who had a dream of creating a "co-housing" development in the Metro Pittsburgh area.  A co-housing community is a group of residents who share a lifestyle vision.  And so for many years, Maria and her group kept searching for a place that was suitable or had potential to accommodate them. The group eventually split into those who wanted to build new and those who wanted to be in the city and reuse existing housing.  Maria's group, the "City" group, found exactly what they were looking for in a stretch of (seven) brown-brick rowhouses on Black Street behind Peabody High School.

The rowhouses had been in the process of falling apart when East Liberty Development Inc. bought them out of foreclosure last year. Since then, the agency has assembled eight more residences on the blocks within Borland, Black and Beatty streets as part of a bigger plan.  It was this "bigger plan" that caught the eye of Piantanida's group.  They took the plunge, bought the distressed properties and promptly named their new co-housing community "Borland Green".

The community started ahead of renovations by establishing a garden on a large tract that was remediated by three years of sunflower and canola planted by the non-profit GTECH. The 18,000-square-foot garden lot will be developed to include an orchard and other edible plants. East Liberty Development still owns that land and is working with the city to get title for two more parcels. Maureen Copeland, GTECH's community programs manager and now a Borland Green resident, bought and moved into the most habitable unit in May. Pat Buddemeyer, an original member of the co-housing group, expects work to be done on her unit in October.  Sten and Emily Carlson are other members of the group who presently live in North Point Breeze as they renovate and restore the unit they recently bought.

Piantanida says it was the green space Borland Green had to offer which cinched the deal for the group.  She and her husband live in Churchill and do not have a move-in date yet. "I've lived in [Churchill] for 32 years and hardly know anybody. This is sort of where my heart is now."

What are some of the benfits of "co-housing"?

"Sharing resources so you don't need seven lawnmowers, just one," said Sten Carlson.

"Having someone look out for your house while you're out of town," added Ms. Piantanida. "Another advantage is that elders have support while they pool their resources to get care at home instead of having to go to a nursing home."

These are the staples of what makes co-housing attractive to a growing number of people. Diana Leafe Christian, a national expert on co-housing, said at least 116 communities are established across the country and roughly another 150 are in the stages of finding and purchasing land.

For further details on this exciting project, read the entire Post Gazette article:
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11227/1167402-53.stm

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hill Disctrict: Then & Now

Silver Bar at 1911 Centre Ave circa 1930

The Post Gazette has launched a multi-media project called the "Storefront Project".   Storefront photos and information from various neighborhoods throughout time will be displayed.  The first street scenes are from the Hill District.  In this particular case, because of the deterioration, the photos are sad.  Interesting but sad.  Lets hope the current redevelopment projects in that neighborhood are successful.

Other neighborhoods are cued up for display soon.  I will post them as they come!

Link to Post Gazette Article
Hill District Then & Now


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Re-Born Victorian on Manchester House Tour

Steve & Linda Hansen in their renovated kitchen.
The gutted and totally renovated Victorian at the corner of Manhattan St and West North Ave will definitely be a highlight of this year's Manchester House & Garden Tour.  Steve Hansen lived on West North Avenue in the North Side's Manchester neighborhood for almost 30 years without noticing this house a block away. Obscured by a pair of overgrown trees and abandoned for 10 years, it was quietly decaying when he stopped and peered inside one day in 2005. Curious, he began stopping by for a closer examination and in April 2007, he climbed in a second-floor window for a look around.  Extensive water damage from a leaky roof (and the raccoon family living there) would have frightened away most people. But Mr. Hansen, who partnered with Jimmy Roach as the WDVE-FM morning radio duo in the 1980s, saw a chance to bring a Victorian house back from the dead.

 After nearly two years of begging the city not to tear it down and 18 months of hard work by Mr. Hansen, his wife Linda and two teams of contractors, there's new life in this old Victorian. New life for this home and the neighborhood as well.

The Hansens' house at 1337 W. North is one of six houses open next weekend for the Manchester House and Garden Tour. Its renovation is further along than its neighbor, but both have come up a long way from what they were two years ago.

The Hansens bought 1337 W. North from the city in February 2010. Much of last year was spent in demolition and gutting the three-story, 5,000-square-foot space that has been apartments, a speakeasy and possibly a brothel (that would explain all the mattresses Mr. Hansen dragged out).  Stalczynski Contracting worked on the exterior, replacing roofs on the house and two garages, rebuilding box gutters, sandblasting and repointing the brick and priming and painting the exterior. A carpenter installed 38 new double-hung windows by Allied Millwork, This January, RW Ripley & Sons leveled and reinforced the floors before laying bamboo, installed drywall, redid the electrical, repaired original tin ceilings and woodwork, and fashioned a modern kitchen and bathrooms that are showstoppers. Architect Bob Baumbach designed the kitchen, where just this week contractors installed concrete countertops by Outlaw Studios and stainless-steel counters by Bishop Metals.

Crew chief Brian Ripley is particularly proud of the master bathroom he helped design and build with his brother, Adam, and Ed Cerra Plumbing.  They ended up with a stunning L-shaped space with dual shower heads, Cifre Oxido wall tile from Spain and a nubby, river-rock tile floor.  To add to the contemporary feel, Mrs. Hansen hopes to install an old paneled door on sliding barn-door hardware across the water closet.

Only some of the tin ceilings in the first and second floors could be salvaged. Several panels in the master bedroom had rusted through from roof runoff. Luckily, the Hansens were able to find exact duplicates online at Chelsea Decorative Metal Co.

Mr. Hansen also has his mind on the future. Inspired by a newspaper he found tucked in a wall -- dated July 4, 1876 -- he created his own time capsule and hid it in a wall for future owners of this house.
In it, he packed 20 photos and a long essay in which he identifies himself, his wife and all the contractors who worked on the project. He describes his fortunate discovery of a forlorn house, the ups and downs of renovation and the incredible amount of work that has gone into reviving this piece of history. He closes this way:

"We hope that we have added to the future vitality and livability of Pittsburgh by saving and restoring this magnificent house. We hope that the Manchester you know is a dynamic destination neighborhood that attracts and nurtures a diverse tapestry of residents, lifestyles and views. We hope you enjoy this house as much as we hope to."


13th annual Manchester
House and Garden Tour
  • What: 6 houses, 2 gardens, benefits Manchester Historic Society
  • When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 6, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 7
  • Tickets: $15 on tour days at Conroy School, 1398 Page St.
  • Information: www.manchesterhistoricsocietypa.com.




Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate

Monday, July 18, 2011

Brownsville Community Festival August 6th



Last year's Community Festival attracted about 1700 people to the Brownsville downtown area and officials are hoping for a larger turnout this year.  The festival will begin at 10am on August 6.

A highlight of the day will be the "duck race," which will take place at 3:30 p.m. along the Monongahela River, starting at the historic Inter-County Bridge, which was recently renovated.  Numbered rubber ducks will be dropped from the bridge into the river and the first three "sponsored" ducks carried by the current over the finish line at the wharf will win prizes.  Nearly 1,000 ducks were dropped last year.  It costs $5 to sponsor a duck.

First prize is a two-night stay in Pittsburgh with dinner and a show, valued at $500.  Second place will receive a $250 Dick's Sporting Goods gift card. Third place will receive a $100 Walmart gift card.
There will be a corporate duck race that coincides with the main race. The ducks can be purchased leading up to the festival by calling Brownsville Area Revitalization Corp (BARC) at 724-785-9331 or at the BARC tent on the day of the festival.

Other festival activities include games, face painting, a climbing wall, play spaces, a petting zoo, pony rides and other forms of entertainment along Market Street throughout the day, ending at about 6 p.m. There will be a morning 5K run sponsored by Brownsville Area High School and a community parade will take place at 11 a.m. Following the parade, dance companies will perform and a Brownsville Rotary talent show featuring local students will take place on stage in the downtown area's center parking lot.  A classic car show will be set up downtown and restaurants, fire companies and community organizations will man ethnic food booths.

There will be a break from activities around 4 p.m., when a motorcycle run sponsored by the Nicholson Cancer Fund of Connellsville travels through downtown. More than 350 motorcycles are expected.
Those wanting to participate in the motorcycle run can register by calling Jeff Halfhill at 724-331-6243. Vendor space is $25 plus $5 for electricity, if needed. To register a classic car in the festival, call Charlie Perkins at 724-970-7462.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fountain At The Point To Be Repaired

Fountain at The Point




Pittsburgh's iconic fountain at The Point draws its water from a fourth "underground" river which runs beneath the Ohio River.  The fountain, which opened in 1974, has worked only sporadically since 2009 because of mechanical problems and general disrepair. It is scheduled for complete rehabilitation starting in fall and ending sometime in 2012.

The fountain stopped running last July when officials decided it needed extensive repairs and added it as the fourth phase of a $42 million, five-year park renovation that is mostly state-funded, with donations from Riverlife specifically for the fountain.  Some of the original design elements of the 1970s were never completed because of lack of money at the time.  The current restoration will revive some of those elements, including a raised plaza that would make it easier for people to sit along the fountain's granite edges.  Additions will include a waterfall inside the fountain base and energy-efficient lighting to permit nighttime illumination in colors.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hampton July 4th Festivities Biggest Yet




As part of the township's 150th anniversary this year, Hampton is gearing up for the biggest 4th of July celebration in the community's history. They expect 20,000 people this year-- double the amount they normally get.

Fireworks displays will be held July 3rd and 4th, although the July 3rd show will be only a warm-up for events on Independence Day.  Festivities will start at noon on July 4th, featuring family-friendly activities like a petting zoo, hay rides, booths, bouncy castles and a rock concert planned for 7 p.m.

Hampton Township
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Forest Hills Super Block Party Night



Forest Hills will be having a Super Block Party night on Aug 2nd.  Mayor O'Malley will be riding through the borough that evening to pick this year's winners.  As in the past, the goal is to have a bigger, better party with lots of lights and the most neighborhood participation. Judging will begin at 6:30pm and the winner will be selected by 9:30pm.   To participate, you must register with the Borough by July 22nd.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Three Rivers Regatta: July 2-4


The 2011 Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta will celebrate its 34th year with several new attractions and familiar fan favorites when the free, family friendly event kicks off July 2.  Debuting this year is Circus Orange, a high-flying worldwide acrobatic troupe from Jerseyville, Ontario. Circus Orange's eclectic troupe of dancers, stunt artists and aerialists will perform all three nights amidst an innovative, original pyrotechnic display.  It is a dramatic fusion of live performance and stunning pyrotechnics and special effects.  Or maybe even a circus on fire.

In any case, performances will begin 8:45 each night at the Point State Park main stage.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Washington County Energy Plant Going With Natural Gas

Beech Hollow Energy Project Site

Robinson Power Company has revised the plans for their proposed Beech Hollow Energy Project in Washington County.  They will be burning natural gas to generate electricity as part of the revised plan for a $450 million power plant at the border of Washington and Allegheny counties.   The developers of the Beech Hollow Energy Project in Robinson Towship told township planners Monday night they want to fuel the plant with natural gas in addition to the waste coal that already has been approved.  It would be about a 50/50 split with gas coming from Marcellus Shale.  The 300-gross-megawatt plant would use 21 million to 23 million cubic feet of natural gas each day.



Monday, June 20, 2011

Thousands Of Locals Answer Casting Call As Batman Extras




9,000 people flocked to the Omni William Penn Hotel over the course of four days for the chance to appear in the conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. They came in sports jerseys, business attire, Jimmy Buffet T-shirts, panama hats, "Ghostbusters" caps and, in one case, a Steel Man costume.

Tammy Smith from Smith & Webster-Davis Casting of Los Angeles expects to hire 3,000 extras for the Pittsburgh leg of filming July 28 through Aug 21. She said having a pool of nearly 9,000 is just about right.  "You need a lot of people to choose from. Not everyone will be selected. Not everyone has the same availability. You need so much more than you're actually going to cast," she said. The ratio of men to women during the open calls ended up roughly 60-40, which is ideal considering there are more roles for men to play.

Dark Knight Rises
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate



Saturday, June 18, 2011

PNC To Build Green Downtown Skyscraper



PNC purchased three lots from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the last in a series of properties needed to build a 40-story, $400 million office tower that will incorporate the latest green building principles.  PNC paid $1.1 million for the three lots and the project is being hailed as evidence of Pittsburgh's progress in the face of national economic woes.

Occupying the three lots now are worn buildings that URA executive director Rob Stephany called some of Downtown's "biggest liabilities." Construction is scheduled to begin next year and be completed by mid-2015. The building will occupy a block on Wood Street in the Fifth and Forbes Avenue corridor and create much-desired temporary and permanent jobs.



Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
PNC Bank

Friday, June 10, 2011

New Section of Allegheny Trail Opens

Allegheny Passage Trail
A nearly three-mile section of the Great Allegheny Passage in the Mon Valley, described as one of the trail's most scenic, will open next Friday. Linda McKenna Boxx, president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, described the new asphalt-paved segment stretching from Grant Avenue in Duquesne to The Waterfront complex in Homestead as "awesome".

But Ms. Boxx also said that a goal of completing the last remaining section of the Great Allegheny Passage, the piece at Sandcastle Waterpark, by November is not going to be met.  They just do not have all the funds.  More than $1 million has been raised toward the estimated $3 million cost, and trail advocates are hoping Gov. Tom Corbett releases a $750,000 grant that state Sen. Jay Costa got added to the capital budget. Once the Sandcastle section is complete, there will be 150 miles of unbroken trail linking Pittsburgh with Cumberland, Md., where it joins the C&O Towpath to Washington, D.C.
 
A 10 a.m. ceremony next Friday will open the newest trail segment, which features views of the U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson Plant, Braddock Locks and Dam on the Monongahela River and even the Westinghouse Bridge over the Turtle Creek valley. The ceremony will officially open up the section where two bridges were erected last summer -- a 110-foot-long span in the RIDC industrial park in Duquesne that crosses three sets of Norfolk Southern Railway tracks, and a 170-foot-long bridge in Whitaker over six sets of tracks operated by Norfolk Southern and Union Railroad Co. The section already has had its unofficial debut, as bicyclists and walkers have been checking it out.

The new Whitaker bridge will be the site of the ceremony. Rather than cutting a ribbon, the celebrants will raise a ceremonial railroad crossing gate.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Yorker Wins Pittsburgh Marathon

Pittsburgh Marathon 2011

Jeffrey Eggleston of Rochester, NY won the Pittsburgh Marathon this morning with an unofficial time of 2:16:38.  Nicholas Kurgat of Kenya broke the course record for the half marathon with a time of 1:03:03. Kurgat's time was more than two minutes better than the previous record, which was set by Baldwin native Ryan Sheehan, who ran 1:05:13 last year. Sheehan came in eighth place today.

The women's marathoner winner was Bekele Delelecha of Ethiopia with a time of 2:35:34.  Malika Mejdoub of Morocco won the women's half marathon with a time of 1:14:28, one second better than second-place finisher Aziza Aliyu of Ethiopia.

Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
Pittsburgh Marathon

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thinking of Biking to Work?



Thinking about biking to work, especially now that a gallon of regular gasoline costs about $4?  Bike Pittsburgh and the Downtown YMCA have a bike commuting forum for you.

The forum, free and open to the public, will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday in the YMCA's Community Room that overlooks Market Square. Enter from the YMCA's Fifth Avenue entrance.
The event, a prelude to Car Free Fridays and Bike to Work Day (May 20), is designed to answer questions about bike commuting and glean information from veteran cyclists.

Bike Pittsburgh also is asking community leaders to celebrate Bike to Work Day by helping to promote bike pools. They have found that one of the main reasons people don't bike to work is because they don't feel safe on the roads.  Riding with others is a good option because it's especially comforting to new and inexperienced riders.


Bike Pittsburgh
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate

Monday, May 9, 2011

East Liberty Redevelopment In High Gear

Eastside shopping complex in East Liberty


The renewal and revitalization of East Liberty has progressed bigger, better and faster than anyone could have hoped for.  Home Depot opened the only store located within Pittsburgh city limits in 2000.  Whole Foods opened two years later and became one of the highest grossing stores in the Austin-based chain. Then came the Mosites Co.'s Eastside development, the hipster haven Shadow Lounge and several small, high-end restaurants.  This July, a new Target will open on Penn Avenue just down the street from where Trader Joe's is thriving.

The commercial scene is obviously a success, but residential housing may yet eclipse that accomplishment.  Two homes in the neighborhood are now under agreement for $340,000 each!  Who would have ever thought? Even the guys who helped make that happen -- real estate specialists at East Liberty Development Inc. -- were staggered. The average sales price of a single-family home in the area in 2008 was $75,000.  The average hit $146,000 last year, when ELDI sold a house for $315,000.

For the past seven years, ELDI has been buying abandoned, vacant and liened properties. The portfolio now totals $10 million and accounts for almost 15 percent of the neighborhood's parcels. Payment of liens alone has East Liberty looking more like Shadyside than its neighbors to the east and west on a demographic map.

So what's next on the list?  The agency's target area for renovating and selling homes is East Liberty's historic core ..... Between Penn Circle and Stanton Avenue and Negley and Highland Avenues.  Last week, city and agency officials cut a ribbon at the Boulevard Apartments, a new six-unit building on East Liberty Boulevard and Euclid Avenue. It is solid brick, has hardwood floors, balconies with hand-crafted iron work and energy efficiency that exceeds Energy Star standards.  The agency is also working with developers to turn three existing buildings into market-rate apartments. They include the Highland Building and former YMCA, both in the business district.


The neighborhood agency's strategy is atypical.  Most community development corporations depend on public money and build homes on spec.   The East Liberty group builds for a waiting buyer.
Rather than going to the URA for money to renovate,they use the market and let the flippers take the risk.  They have legal safeguards in place that require the flipper to sell to a homeowner instead of an investor. 

What kind of homeowners have decided to make East Liberty their new home?  New residents include those who moved to Pittsburgh from out of state, some to work for Google and American Eagle, and people who have relocated from other neighborhoods and area suburbs.  After almost a decade of very aggressive work, there is a bona fide market-rate housing market in East Liberty.

Who would have ever thought .....

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Only 2 More Days For Greek Food Festival!

Church volunteer stacks diples for the Food Festival

The ladies -- and men -- at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland on Monday made fried pastries called diples (about 3,000 of them) as they finished the cooking for its Greek Food Festival, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The party runs from Sunday, May 1, through Friday, May 6. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m except on Friday, when it's open until 10 p.m. and the music goes till midnight. The menu includes more pastries (from baklava to galatoboureko) and dinners (souvlakia to fish plaki) and a la carte items (moussaka to dolmathes). Call 412-682-3866 or visit stnickspgh.org.



Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
Oakland

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Book Published About Mt Washington's Chatham Village

Women play cards in Chatham Village, 1932

Pittsburgh history buffs will love the new book published about Mt Washington's Chatham Village. "Chatham Village: Pittsburgh's Garden City" has a paper jacket which feels almost like suede, giving the cover photographs extra depth. The book's design, by Kachergis Book Design of Pittsboro, N.C., is enjoyable, too, with wide margins and an abundance of photographs, drawings and plans.

Author Angelique Bamberg was the city's preservation planner from December 1998 to 2006 and it was her job to inform and guide commission members in their decision-making. A native of Germany who grew up in the American South, she first came to Pittsburgh earlier in 1998 as a Cornell University graduate student researching her master's thesis on Chatham Village, out of which this book has grown. It's the first book-length treatment of the subject, and Ms. Bamberg has detailed its design and establishing how and why the community is significant, the role it played in the history of planned developments and why it was both a smashing success and a disappointing failure.

Chatham Village, while widely known in planning circles, is one of Pittsburgh's best-kept secrets. The community was built in two phases on 45 acres on a Mount Washington hilltop -- the former Thomas Bigham estate -- between 1931 and 1936. It was a demonstration project of the Buhl Foundation, which wanted to show that quality, affordable housing could be built for middle-class families at a profit by the private sector. It also wanted to demonstrate that Pittsburgh's hilly terrain could be developed economically and beautifully. At Chatham Village, 197 terraced red-brick row houses surround village greens, gardens and paths, all stepping down the sloping site.

The 208-page hardcover edition (University of Pittsburgh Press, $29.95) opens with a look at the four men who were most influential in the development's launch, beginning with Charles Fletcher Lewis, a former Pittsburgh Sun editorial writer who headed the then year-old Buhl Foundation.  Lewis hired three consultants, Clarence Stein, Henry Wright and Frederick Bigger, all architects, planners and housing reform advocates who were members of the Regional Planning Association of America.

To combat sprawl and the ills of the city, the association's members had devised plans for a series of communities called New Towns, with homes grouped around greens, gardens and paths, limiting cars to roads and garages on the perimeter. Clarence Stein believed the automobile had made the traditional urban grid unsafe for pedestrians, especially children who made the streets their playgrounds. Inspired by the English garden city movement, Mr. Stein and Mr. Wright had collaborated on two previous projects, Sunnyside Gardens on Long Island, N.Y., and Radburn, N.J.

Mr. Lewis' consultants convinced him that Chatham could not be built and sold for a profit as individually owned homes, he shifted its focus to rental properties for the struggling middle-class. Designed by Pittsburgh architects Ingham and Boyd, the row houses were no ordinary rentals. They had limestone door surrounds and stone cartouches over some doorways, modern amenities like steel kitchens, and utility and power lines were buried underground, enhancing the aura of an urban Eden designed by landscape architect Ralph Griswold, who emphasized lush lawns accented and shaded by trees. At the first open house, 20,000 people lined up to have a look and there soon was a waiting list for occupancy.
To assure the "model community" was a "model success", the first tenants were carefully screened. They were uniformly Protestant, white-collar and white -- a demographic that has widened over time. Once geared to families with children, Chatham Village now caters more to the needs of adults.  Satisfied that the Buhl Foundation's housing experiment had come to a successful conclusion, Mr. Lewis' successor, Charles Nutting, turned it into a co-op in 1957, offering tenants the chance to become owners at extremely reasonable cost. Most of them did. 

Ms. Bamberg is currently a planning and preservation consultant and instructor at the University of Pittsburgh.