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February community meeting highlights | The Homepage

Grocery store and Equity One-Stop shop updates, public art project launch

By Juliet Martinez


People sit facing away from the camera in a room with one yellow wall on the left, a hexagonal lighting pattern on the ceiling, and a stainless steel counter with trays of snacks in the foreground.
Community members gathered at Community Kitchen for the in-person meeting in February. Photo by Sarah Kanar

Close to 60 people joined the February hybrid community meeting even though it took place on Valentine’s Day. Community Kitchen hosted the in-person meeting and Hazelwood Café provided a selection of pastries. On the agenda: Community groups POORLAW and GH-CARED have joined forces on two big projects that aim to address vital needs: a grocery store and a community center, and Edith Abeyta of Arts Excursions Unlimited announced a new public art project.


Second Avenue grocery store

The Sarah Dixon Innovation Center will address the need for a supermarket in Hazelwood. The development team plans to build it on the 4800 block of Second Avenue on the side nearer the train tracks.


Finance specialist for the project, Pete Byford, attended virtually. He said the center will cost between $19 million and $21 million to build. Roughly $3 to 4 million of that will come from federal new market tax credits, which act like low-income housing tax credits for economic development. Mr. Byford estimates the groups will borrow about $3 to 4 million. The remaining $12 million will come from a combination of grants from foundations, federal and state funds for opportunity zones and for projects addressing the lack of access to fresh food in low-income neighborhoods, as well as financing through pandemic programs.


Architect Scott Gerke described the current design. It will have two 27,000-square-foot floors of underground parking (about half a football field) with and 45 to 50 indoor parking spaces each.


A computer-assisted rendering of a modern brick and glass building
A view of the proposed design for the Sarah Dixon Innovation Center. Image courtesy of POORLAW/GH-CARED

The ground level will house the 18- to 20,000-square-foot supermarket (about a third of a football field). A public community space on the ground floor will have glass walls and an interior wall of plants.


The second floor will have tenant space. Speaking on behalf of POORLAW and GH-CARED, Pastor Lutual Love said they envision this space as housing a credit union, daycare, health center or other business that serves the community.


The third floor is the roof level, with an 8,000-square-foot greenhouse where produce could be grown for sale in the grocery store. A 6,000-square-foot event space and a 2,000-square-foot rooftop patio will complete the third floor. Mr. Gerke said the building will be fully wheelchair accessible and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.


A cooperative endeavor

POORLAW and GH-CARED plan for the grocery store and the whole Sarah Dixon Innovation Center to be cooperatively owned and operated. Kevin McPhillips, from the Pennsylvania Center for Employee Ownership, explained the project’s three-tiered cooperative structure.


Community members and outside investors will jointly own the property itself as a real estate cooperative.


The grocery store employees will own and democratically operate the store, and share in the profits.


Community members who pay a small fee will be members of the consumer co-op. Anyone will be able to shop at the store, but co-op members may enjoy certain benefits.


Ron Gaydos of Keystone Development Center added that cooperatives work for financial, community and society success. These businesses last longer, respond to community needs and preferences and promote civic engagement, he said.


Equity One-Stop Shop

POORLAW and GH-CARED bought the historic Church of the Good Shepherd at the corner of Second and Johnston avenues to convert it into a community center. The Equity One-Stop Shop will give community groups office and meeting space and include an affordable rental unit.


Praise Temple Deliverance Church plans to use the sanctuary for worship services and other community nonprofits have already committed to moving in. The groups have already secured $1 million in financing with help from State Representative Aerion Abney and State Senator Jay Costa.


For more information on these projects, visit www.poorlaw.org.


HI launches public art project at Second & Tecumseh Plaza

Hazelwood Initiative is kicking off a new public art project under the leadership of Edith Abeyta, founder of Arts Excursions Unlimited, and Tim Kaulen, founder of the Industrial Arts Workshop. Ms. Abeyta spoke at the meeting to introduce the project, which will culminate in a public artwork in the plaza adjacent to Elevationz on Tecumseh and Second avenues. The piece will have a bike rack component and a communications element like a kiosk where people can share community information.


The first art direction meeting with the community was on February 23. Community members are invited to a second art direction meeting on Thursday, March 23, at 6 p.m. at Three Rivers Village School (4713 Chatsworth Avenue). Dinner will be served and the location is wheelchair accessible.


In June, Mr. Kaulen will give the community input from the meetings to summer welding boot camp students, who will generate potential designs. In July, the community will have a chance to review the designs. Students will execute the design and create the piece in August. Industrial Arts Workshop will install the finished piece in September with a dedication and ribbon cutting to follow in October.


Hazelwood Initiative owns the site and is funding the project with grants from the URA of Pittsburgh and The Heinz Endowments.


To learn more, contact Edith Abeyta at edithabeyta@gmail.com or (412) 295-1795 (mobile), or Tim Kaulen at tim.kaulen@iawpgh.org or (412) 916-7051 (mobile).


Gladstone Residences Update

Sonya Tilghman, Hazelwood Initiative executive director, said she is collecting names of those interested in living in the development once it is complete. Fair housing law prohibits giving preference to applicants based on where they live, as well as their race, age, gender, disability and other characteristics. But, she said, Hazelwood Initiative will notify residents and anyone interested when the applications are available. Construction on the project is expected to finish in December.

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