Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fountain At The Point Ready In June

The fountain in Downtown's Point State Park, which has been shut off for repairs since April 2009, will resume operation in a ceremony set for June 7.  The dedication ceremony, titled "Riverlights At The Point", will be free and open to the public and will take place on the first night of the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

When it returns to operation, the fountain will have a disappearing edge water feature inside the basin, a restored outer basin ring, new pumping equipment and new LED lighting.  The fountain, which sprays water up to 150 feet in the air, draws its water from an aquifer known as the Wisconsin Glacial Flow, which passes beneath the park and beneath the rivers.  This aquifer is sometimes referred to as our "fourth river".

Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
Point State Park

Monday, December 17, 2012

Check Out The New Stores In Bloomfield

D J Smulick talks to a customer in his specialty meats store.

Slow but steady, Bloomfield is coming into "hipness" of its own.

Take DJ Specialty Sausage & Meats at 4623 Liberty Ave for example.  D J Smulick, who lives in Bloomfield, was a chef at Cafe Sam, The Duquesne Club and Steelhead Grill before deciding to open up his own specialty butcher shop last summer.  He buys local as much as possible and showcases his own sausages in the shop.  Other than the fact that he does live in the neighborhood, Smulick choose to open in Bloomfield because he says its a place where people say 'hi' when they walk down the street.

Rachelle Timarac had a similarly off-beat reason for opening her antique jewelry store in Bloomfield just five weeks ago.  "There was just an electricity in the air and I got a really good vibe," she said about her experience each time she went to Liberty Ave to shop or grab a bit to eat.  Her shop, GoldNGals, has been a long-time dream of hers.

Timarac and Smulick's shops are just two of the fourteen new businesses that have opened in Bloomfield since 2011.

Councilman Bill Peduto explains Bloomfield's own particular brand of charm and hipness this way ... "Its where blue-haired old-timers meet the kids with blue mohawks.  Where if it snows, he will clear her walk and if she's making pasta, there's an extra plate for him."

I think Bill probably nailed it.

Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Latrobe's Claim To Fame .... Banana Split

Latrobe is seeking historical validation from the state for its claim as the birthplace of the banana split.  The city recently applied to the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program for approval of a plaque to recognize David E Strickler of Latrobe as inventing the banana split in 1904 and selling it in a downtown Latrobe drugstore, Tassell Pharmacy.  Strickler lived from 1881 to 1971 and also created a special dish to display his banana split.   He was a 23-yr-old apprentice at the pharmacy at the time of his "invention".

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

O'Hara Business Distributing Earth-Friendly Sealant

Pittsburgh Real Estate
Jim Campbell of O'Hara design and construction firm, JWCampbell

Wow.  Could pot holes be a thing of the past? Jim Campbell thinks so.  Jim's Atlantic Technologies Group has partnered with manufacturer Castraga Products to distribute a sustainable sealant called called Ecodur 201.

Made primarily of gypsum and natural castor plant oils, the coating provides a self-polymerizing system that lasts longer and costs less than urethane products.  Gypsum is one of the most plentiful products on earth and is 100% renewable.  Jim says the stuff is so safe you could even eat it!

Invented in the 1990's, Ecodur 201 was first used on Canadian ferry boat decks because it could withstand below-freezing temperatures. It is able to expand and contract rather than break and can be applied in temperatures as low a zero degrees.  At that time the product could only be applied manually which made it cost-prohibitive for many business uses.  But recent spray technology advancements have now made it cost-effective.

The list of possible uses is long.  Just to mention a few .....
-  Rubber roof coating will extend the life 10 years.
-  Interior liner for oil tanks.  Lasts longer and adheres better than epoxy.
-  Transportation
-  Drilling and fracking
-  Flooring
-  Roofing
-  Insulation
- Aeronautics
-  Commercial construction
-  Repair concrete parking decks, bridges, roads and POTHOLES!  The product sets so quickly, roads would not have to be closed for long periods while repairs were made.  It is sprayed and it sets and that is that.

Unbelievable but true.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Penguin's Pond
"Penguin's Pond" at Station Square
From now through Jan 13th, Highmark Stadium at Station Square will become an ice skating rink open to the general public.  The stadium is the future home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds soccer team and Pittsburgh Passion women's football team.  The rink is constructed atop a protected turf surface and skaters will be able to watch the stadium construction throughout the winter. 

Rink hours for open general public skating will be from 11am - 5pm Monday through Thursday, 3pm - 11pm Friday and Saturday, and 3pm - 7pm Sunday.  The rink will be open 3pm - 8pm on Christmas Eve and closed Christmas Day.  Rates to skate are $7 for adults, $5 for youth, and $3 skate rentals.

Highmark Stadium
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate 
Pittsburgh Passion
Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Station Square

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Transformation of Willis McCook Mansions Complete

Pittsburgh Real Estate
Willis McCook Mansion on Fifth Avenue in Shadyside.
Tuesday's public reception marked the completion of an 8-year restoration which transformed Shadyside's Willis McCook Mansion from a fire damaged property in 2004 to the first-class historic hotel that it is today.  Mansions on Fifth, as it is now called, offers 22 spacious suites in a venue complete with world-class art, stained glass windows, an historic chapel, century old wine cellar and a comfortable library.

An industrialist and one of the nation’s first corporate lawyers, Willis Fisher McCook was Henry Clay Frick’s attorney, representing him in Frick’s celebrated fight with Andrew Carnegie. McCook built his Fifth Ave manor in 1906 for he, his wife and 9 of his 10 children.  His oldest 10th child, daughter Bessie, was engaged at the time and so McCook simultaneously built an adjacent mansion next door, the McCook-Reed Mansion, as a wedding gift to the couple. Together, the Willis McCook Mansion (20,000 sq ft) and the McCook-Reed Mansion (9,000 sq ft), comprise what is now the Mansions on Fifth, a luxury hotel.

Both properties have been meticulously and painstakingly restored keeping their historic character and architectural details intact.  Even so, new mechanicals, wiring, plumbing, sprinklers, heating, cable and wi-fi were integrated seamlessly into both manors. 

Brunch is served on the 1st Sunday of each month ($38 per person).  There is a Tuesday concert series in the Grand Hall of the main mansion from 6:30 to 9:30.  The evening includes light fare, dessert and valet parking for $30 per person.  Also on Tuesdays, a musical duo entertains in the Oak Room, a large bar off the Grand Hall.  There is no cover charge for that entertainment.

Mansions on Fifth
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
Restoration Video

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mexican War Streets Historic District Expanded

Pittsburgh's Historic Review Commission approved the expansion of the Mexican War Streets' historic boundaries to match those set by the National Park Service in 2008.  The change would more than double the 9-square-block area designated by the city in 1972.

Representatives of the Mexican War Streets Society and the Central Northside Neighborhood Council support the expansion for its potential to drive investment but also for the layer of protection it provides against building demolition.  Individual structures in Historic Districts cannot be demolished without the approval of the Historic Review Commission.

Those who oppose the new boundaries voiced concern for strapped homeowners who would be included in the newly expanded area.  Commission rules as to what can be done to a house and how it must be done might pose a hardship to lower-income homeowners.

The matter will ultimately be decided by City Council.