On Wednesday, January 17th, the City of Pittsburgh and Urban Redevelopment Authority hosted an open house in partnership with Avenu at their space on Miltenberger Street. This event showcased drawings and ideas that came out of the Fifth and Dinwiddie design exercise in November. What did that entail? The November event is called a design charrette, a gathering to work through design ideas and talk about viable options for the redevelopment of the Department of Public Works building and the opposing parking lot owned by the URA at Fifth and Dinwiddie. About 60 stakeholders comprised of community members, community leaders, and design professionals worked in groups to imagine a range of buildings, uses, open spaces and plazas to address Uptown needs.
Posters featuring these designs, as well as examples from other cities around the world, lined the space at Avenu in January. Attendees were asked to provide feedback on community designs, from likes to dislikes, and vote on what they consider the most important aspects for prospective development. Community input helps inform the request for proposals that the URA will issue in 2018.
Among the many comments and questions we heard, there were a few in each category – likes, ideas, and other – that were repeated more often. Here are some common threads in the discussion.
- There was a preference for open space with a park, plaza, and play space.
- Some designs featured new residential buildings on Colwell that match the rowhome heights that are currently across the street.
- Keeping the Department of Public Works building and repurposing it, rather than demolishing and building a new structure.
- Many residents mentioned a preference for certain kinds of businesses to occupy new built spaces, such as a pharmacy and 24 hour urgent care facility.
- There were some concerns about the use of Our Way after redevelopment, and there were comments to make sure that through access is retained.
- It was suggested that designs did not incorporate enough public green space.
- Additional suggestions for services included a grocer and recreation center.
- There were comments emphasizing public safety and slowing traffic along Fifth Avenue.
- A common theme was community building and supporting current residents.
Reimagining Fifth and Dinwiddie is one of the first projects to come out of the new EcoInnovation District plan. Implementation of the plan will continue to harness the energy, excitement, and ideas from the community and help spur reinvestment in Uptown and West Oakland. All posters from the open house are below. Click on the poster to see a larger image.