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July community meeting: Pitt promises ‘Hazelwood-first’ workforce development | The Homepage

Plus Hazelwood food justice updates

By Juliet Martinez

The July community meeting had about 50 people online and in-person. They came to get updates on the planned cooperative grocery store on Second Avenue and participate in the development activities meeting for University of Pittsburgh’s planned BioForge biomanufacturing facility on Hazelwood Green.

What is a DAM?

Hazelwood neighborhood planning manager Ose Akinotlan described the basics of development activities meetings, often called by the acronym DAM.

The Department of City Planning registered community organization program incorporates community input into the development activities that affect them. If a project meets certain thresholds and the developer requests a hearing with the Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Planning Commission, the Historic Review Commission or the Art Commission must coordinate with the registered community organization (Hazelwood Initiative, in this case) and City Planning to hold a DAM. This gives the community a chance to learn about the proposal and share any concerns early in the process. Those with further questions may email Ms. Akinotlan at ose.akinotlan@pittsburghpa.gov.

Pitt BioForge

The University of Pittsburgh's BioForge will be a biotech manufacturing institute with a leading biotech firm, ElevateBio, as taking up 70% of the building. They and Pitt researchers will develop manufacturing processes for new cell and gene therapies.

The 85,000 square-foot facility will have two occupied floors with mechanical space on the third. Two native plant “pocket parks” roughly the size of tennis courts will nestle into the lot around the building.

The university is asking the Planning Commission to widen a street that is laid out as Street D on the Hazelwood Green master plan but not built yet. The project team said they want it to accommodate delivery trucks so the building’s loading dock can open onto it.

The team expects to start site preparation this fall and foundation work early next year. Those interested in construction employment should watch The Homepage and Hazelwood Initiative social media for information on workforce training and employment opportunities. The building should be completed in 2025, when they will begin hiring and training staff.

The team said they will take what they called a “Hazelwood-first” approach to hiring during the construction phase and when the facility comes online. They said anyone who wants to work at Pitt can contact the workforce development counselor now for help with a resume and finding a full-time job on campus.

In response to questions about the taxes the university will pay on the development, Vice Chancellor Lina Dostilio said they will pay taxes on the 70% of the building rented to the commercial partner. The university will pay several kinds of taxes involved in a project like this, such as transfer tax. Its location in a Tax Increment Financing district also affects their tax payments for the next 15 years.

Food justice

POORLAW founder Saundra Cole and Pastor Lutual Love of Praise Temple Deliverance Church and the Greater Hazelwood Coalition Against Racial and Ethnic Disparities gave updates on their food justice work, including planning and fundraising for a grocery store in a development called the Sarah Dixon Innovation Center on the 4800 block of Second Avenue.

While that project addresses long-term food justice needs, the two community advocates have worked with Giant Eagle’s Mobile Market for a shorter-term solution.

Photos courtesy of Giant Eagle


Starting July 15, the Giant Eagle Mobile Market began visiting the lot on the 4900 block of Second Avenue from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and 1:30 too 3:30 p.m. at 945 Roselle Court in Glen Hazel on Wednesdays. See www.poorlaw.org for details.

Since the architect presented the Sarah Dixon Innovation Center design in February, the development team decided to move the daycare planned for the three-story project to the former Church of the Good Shepherd, where POORLAW is opening the One-Stop Shop Equity Resource Center this year. A credit union is now planned for that space, with a fitness center on the first-floor mezzanine. On the second floor, there will be 14 two-bedroom, 1,200 square-foot apartments. Each will have a reserved parking space. The third floor will house a greenhouse, event space and a community center where residents can gather.

The building will be cooperatively owned by investors from within and outside the community. The grocery store that will take up most of the first floor will operate as a worker-owned cooperative as well as a consumer co-op where people can pay a fee and enjoy membership benefits.

Kevin McPhillips, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Employee Ownership, said achieving these goals will boost neighborhood residents’ pride in their community and ensure that every dollar spent benefits it. Historically, cooperatively owned businesses pay higher wages and weather crises better than conventional businesses, experiencing less employee turnover and higher productivity as well.

District 5 Councilperson Barb Warwick spoke in support of the project, saying the need for a full-service grocery store in Hazelwood is clear, and she knows building one is a long and hard process. But no one should doubt that it will happen.

“I ask everybody here at this meeting in the community, let's change the narrative around that,” she said. “When you talk about this project amongst your friends amongst your neighbors, I want you to say, ‘We are building a co-op grocery store.’”

National Night Out

Hazelwood will not hold a National Night Out event this year, but Greenfield will. Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/GCAPGH.

Holy Cross full-time pastor

Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Chapel's former vicar Benjamin Jansen is back, but now as the full-time pastor. He and his family – including a new little one since they were here last – have moved into their home on Gertrude Street.

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