Friday, April 29, 2011

FInally! A Bridge To East Liberty

Sketch of Pedestrian Bridge

Construction of a pedestrian bridge linking Shadyside to the Eastside shopping complex in East Liberty will begin on Monday. The 100-foot-long bridge will stretch from Ellsworth Avenue at Spahr Street to the southwest corner of the Eastside parking garage, hopping over the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway and railroad tracks parallel to it.

Plans for the bridge go back at least seven years. Planners and developers had to work through myriad issues involving financing, right of way, property acquisition and design.  Starting Monday and continuing through November, Ellsworth Avenue will be closed from Spahr Street to Lamont Place. These streets will be open only to local and business traffic: Ellsworth from Maryland Avenue to Spahr and from Shady Avenue to Lamont, and Spahr from Alder Street to Ellsworth.  Northbound traffic on Spahr will be required to turn left at Ellsworth. Access to all businesses in the construction area will be maintained at all times.

The project features an innovative design by Pittsburgh native Sheila Klein that includes a curving fence bedecked with glass sequins, an undulating pathway bordered with landscaping and railings that were salvaged from the 31st Street Bridge when it was rehabilitated.

The glass is being made at Pittsburgh Glass Center in Friendship and restoration of the railings was by Keystone Metals in Larimer.
Completion of the $1.55 million project is scheduled for late December.

East Liberty
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kennywood Gets A Little Make-Over

Phantom's Revenge

Kennywood is getting a little spruce-up for the opening of this season.   Opening day at the West Mifflin amusement park gets under way at 10:30 a.m. May 7. Closing will be about 10 p.m., based on crowds and weather.  Spruce-ups and other changes are ....

-  The old black top leading to what was formerly the (circa 1901) Old Mill, now the dark ride called Garfield's Nightmare, was replaced with red and tan bricks of various sizes and shapes for a striking design effect. 
-  The classic arcade Kandy Kaleidoscope was repainted mostly green with tan accents and has a new red roof.
 -  Starting on Memorial Day, Potato Patch fries -- a perennial park favorite -- will be available at a second location: the Star refreshment stand between the Log Jammer entrance and Arrow360.
-  Kiddieland's Mother Goose facility, which housed restrooms, was replaced with a new building with handicap-accessible family restrooms with changing stations.  The front of the building features a refreshment stand, which is the first in recent years in Kiddieland. Snacks offered will include healthy options such as juice and fruit.
-  The Parkside Cafe has larger handicap-accessible restrooms, air conditioning has been added and the roof is being repainted.  The cafe will retain its original tin ceiling and wooden beams from 1898 -- the year Kennywood was founded as a small trolley park by the Monongahela Street Railway Company, which was controlled by industrial baron Andrew Mellon.

Kennywood is one of only two amusement parks designated as a National Historic Landmark.  This season will cost a little more; there is an across-the-board admission increase of one dollar from 2010. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Connellsville Airport Gets New Runway

The Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport has started work on a new runway.  At a ribbon-cutting Thursday for the new runway, officials spoke of the importance of having a county airport and the impact of improvements to the facility which will hopefully attract more corporate users.

The runway is just one part of the larger project whereby the airport will demolish 11 storage hangars, replacing them with seven aviation T-hangars capable of storing corporate jets. That project will cost about $1.8 million.

Baker Engineering in Moon will design the upcoming projects. Engineer Jennifer Andy said she is designing the apron reconstruction. Work will begin this summer. The hangar project should start later this year.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shaler & Hampton To Merge Water Service

Shaler commissioners will take the final step Tuesday to merge water service for their community with Hampton.  The action by the board follows nine months of negotiations between municipal officials on a plan to create a single authority to operate wells, a treatment plant and water distribution for both townships.

 The deal is described as a "win-win-win" situation because the consolidation will benefit the two communities and all their residents. Water rates will be stable because duplication of services is eliminated, and there will not be a need for a second treatment plant.  The new agency will take over early next year, charging identical rates for customers in both communities.
 The creation of the joint authority eliminates any need for Hampton to build its own water treatment plant, since Shaler's plant has been updated and has enough capacity to serve both communities.  Future savings are expected as overhead costs are spread out among more customers.

Hampton Township
Hampton Township Municipal Authority
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
Shaler Township

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One Church's Move Makes Room For Another

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on the North Side

After nearly 90 years in the North Side, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church is closing, but its move to new quarters in the North Hills will trigger the rejuvenation of another Pittsburgh congregation. Earlier this month, Holy Trinity officials agreed to sell their distinctive building at West North and Sherman avenues to the North Side Institutional Church of God in Christ. Fire destroyed North Side Institutional at 1200 California Ave. in January 2009, and the congregation has been meeting since at a North Side location.

For Holy Trinity, the sale expedites a planned move to a church and community center in McCandless. In 2007, the church purchased 10 acres at Babcock Boulevard and Thompson Run Road from La Roche College and plans to break ground later this year, finishing construction by December 2012. Over the past 50 years, most of Trinity's congregation has move north and they are not moving to the demographic center of their church community.

North Side Institutional will begin renovations to the Holy Trinity sanctuary after Holy Trinity's last service there on Easter. It plans to move in by June or July.

Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate

Sunday, April 17, 2011

'Dark Knight' Will Film Here in Summer

Third in Batman Series:  The Dark Knight Rises

The news media and social networking sites have been abuzz about Pittsburgh ever since the April 5 announcement that "The Dark Knight Rises," the third installment in director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, will be filming here in July and August.  Filmmaking may be nothing new for "Hollywood on the Mon" -- more than 101 movies and television productions have set up shop here since 1990 -- but four to six weeks of filming of the iconic and lucrative Batman franchise puts the city into an entirely different category.  Simply put, Hollywood insiders say, this is a really, really big deal for the city.

As with any film shot here, the Warner Bros. production, slated to open nationwide July 20, 2012, means money spent on local film crews and actors, hotels, restaurants, transportation, dry cleaners, entertainment -- you name it.  No one knows how much money because it's unclear how much of the film will be shot here. The movie, whose budget is rumored to be in excess of $185 million, reportedly also will film in England, Bucharest, Romania and Los Angeles.

Christian Bale, who won an Academy Award for his work in "The Fighter," will return in the title role as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Anne Hathaway, who has been cast as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, and Tom Hardy, who is playing Batman enemy Bane, may also be here depending on what role Pittsburgh plays.  Put together all of that commerce, pop culture and star power and you don't need a klieg light to see something special will be happening in Pittsburgh this summer.

Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office, said that while Pittsburgh has a positive reputation in the Hollywood community as a great place to film a movie, landing Batman creates a buzz heretofore unknown for the city.  Pittsburgh has a great film history ..... From 1914's 'Perils of Pauline' to 1968's 'Night of the Living Dead' and also 'Silence of the Lambs' and 'Deer Hunter'.  But Batman brings us into this century with one of the most recognizable franchises there is.

This type of movie industry recognition gives Pittsburgh 'cool factor'.  It says Pittsburgh is some place great for entertainment, some place great for pop culture and it gives the city the recognition it deserves. It sends an unconscious message out there that creates more business.   
In announcing that Pittsburgh had bested Chicago, Detroit and other cities vying to be the film's location, London-born director Mr. Nolan said he chose the city because of its great architecture and diversity of locations.  "Pittsburgh is a beautiful city", he said.  "We have been able to find everything we were looking for here, and I am excited to spend the summer in Pittsburgh with our final installment of Batman."
So, what can Pittsburgh anticipate? Well, maybe a lot of what Chicago experienced when "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" filmed there.  Richard Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office, said those two films brought in more than $50 million in local spending.  Websites and blogs picked up on it and there truly was wildfire word of mouth that got people talking about Chicago.  As with any movie project, there were inevitable public inconveniences, such as street closures and setting up perimeters for filming.

Anyway you look at it, Batman is just very cool and this type of publicity for Pittsburgh is invaluable.

Pittsburgh Film Office
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
The Dark Knight Rises

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dargate Auction Gallery Moves To The Rocks

New home in former sanctuary of St. Mark Slavish Roman Catholic Church

Dargate Auction Gallery had to move more than 10,000 square feet of art and antiques when they moved from North Point Breeze to the former St. Mark Slavish Roman Catholic Church on Munson Avenue in McKees Rocks.  It was a herculean task .... One marble sculpture weighed 800 pounds as did a marble fireplace.

Taris Vrcek, executive director of the McKees Rocks Community Development Corp., pointed Dargate toward the closed Catholic church that was owned by its neighbor, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church.  The inside had the look of a museum because of its pillars, curves and its ceiling.  It was a perfect setting for the Gallery.

At present, new wheelchair-accessible bathrooms have been installed, along with new signage and emergency lighting.  A sign out front directs visitors to a wheelchair ramp and leads to the passenger elevator.  With the former church and rectory, Dargate now has about 15,000 square feet of space.  Renovations to the rectory will be made over time.

The Rev. Tom Soroka, pastor of St. Nicholas, said parish members made a decision three years ago to stay and do literally everything they could to transform the neighborhood.  Dargate's arrival turns out to be the beginning of their vision to revitalize the "Bottoms".

McKees Rocks has a population of 6,100 according to the 2010 census.  The Bottoms are accessed by the McKees Rocks Bridge, the longest span in Allegheny County.  Dargate owner Dan Zivko says the neighborhood reminds him of Coventry, an artsy section of Cleveland's East Side that has book shops, music stores, fashionable boutiques and restaurants.  Noting that his brother is a chef, he said he has been looking at other neighborhood property with an eye toward opening a restaurant years from now.

Mr. Vrcek believes the Bottoms can become a magnet, noting that 22,000 vehicles cross the McKees Rocks Bridge daily.  He knows the neihborhood well because his paternal grandparents emigrated from Croatia and ran the V&R Lounge as well as Vrcek's Restaurant on Helen Street.

"You have committed lifelong residents here.  You have newcomers and the first wave of what we call pioeers," said Mr Vrcek.

Sounds like that could be the right recipe for success.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Robinson Native To Open New Restaurant At The Pointe

Latitude 30 in Jacksonville, FL

Robinson Township native Brent Brown is glad to be back, doing business in Pittsburgh.  Brown plans to open a restaurant, bar and entertainment center in the former Roomful Express building in The Pointe at North Fayette.  A Montour High School graduate, he outlined plans for Latitude 40, a two-story, 60,000-square-foot restaurant and bar with an arcade, a 300-seat theater, 24 luxury bowling lanes and a movie screening room. The venue will accommodate parties and special events.

He said the company planned to lease and remodel the former furniture store and open next spring.
Mr. Brown chose the 200 Quinn Drive location because he grew up in the area and because the spot is near Pittsburgh International Airport and many businesses.  In January, Mr. Brown and his partners, including his brother, opened Latitude 30 in Jacksonville, Fla., where he now lives.

Hours for Latitude 40 tentatively will be 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday to Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday to Saturday, with live comedy on weekends.  No one under 16 years old will be allowed in the venue without a parent or guardian, and no one under 21 years old will be allowed to stay after 10 p.m. Security guards will ensure the entrance policy is enforced.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Groceries to Go! in Churchill

Churchill resident Lisa Hildreth was working her way through nursing school at Waynesburg University when she hit upon a better way to help those in need.

She started her own company, Best Grocery Delivery, an online service that serves the elderly, handicapped and college students, those most challenged when it comes to the physical task of getting to and from the store with a heavy load of food. In the first three months, she has quadrupled her customer base and plans to hire another full-time person to help with the shopping.

Most of her business is word of mouth, through the health fairs she has done at senior care centers and the support she has received from the Pennsylvania Center for the Blind as well as Internet searches and college directories. It's amazing how quickly the word is spreading on college campuses.

Best Grocery delivers within 15 miles of downtown Pittsburgh, within 15 miles of Washington, Canonsburg, and Bridgeville and has a satellite office in Key West, Florida.   Unlike other online grocery services, which tend to only sell their products, Hildreth will go to several different grocers and shop for the best prices. Best Grocery tracks the weekly specials at most grocery stores in the region.

Best Grocery offers 10,000 items from kosher to organic. Register on the website and shop. Groceries are delivered the next day.

Best Grocery Delivery
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Laser Shows At The Science Center

Carnegie Science Center Planetarium

The Carnegie Science Center is opening three new laser shows in the Buhl Digital Dome to appeal to music-loving adults.  "Doors & Hendrix" features lasers moving to the psychedelic music from the '60s.  Showtimes are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. "Radiohead" features songs from the indie pop band, at 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.  "Creed," a hard-rock laser show, is open only for group bookings. Cost is $8. A ticket for a second laser or Omnimax show is available for $5.

Carnegie Science Center
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate