Pivotal Streets Residential Façade Grant



The Polish Hill Pivotal Streets Residential Façade Grant Program was designed to improve the face of the neighborhood, focusing on the main (pivotal) streets.  The program is now in its third year.  The 2015 program is funded by a grant from UPMC Health Plan.

The decision on which projects will be awarded grants are made by an independent review committee.  In order to ensure impartiality, the PHCA staff and board members do not make the decisions, and none of the review committee members are residents of Polish Hill.

To provide guidance for property owners considering renovations, Loysen + Kreuthmeier Architects created the Polish Hill Pivotal Streets Design Guide, a design book specifically for Polish Hill highlighting the neighborhood’s varied architecture and suggesting design concepts for projects ranging from under $1,000 for micro renovations up to $35,000 or more for extra-large renovations.  Copies of the book are available from our office for $20.

See Pivotal Streets projects from previous years:

Pivotal Streets 2013 projects

Pivotal Streets 2014 projects


The Pivotal Streets Residential Façade Grant Program was selected as one of the Pittsburgh Community Redevelopment Group’s four 2015 Community Development Award finalists. The PCRG created this short video to showcase the project:



Brereton-Dobson Fire Site Development


Fronting on Brereton and Dobson, our most historic and culturally significant streets, the site was identified as a high priority during our community planning.

The conceptual plan for the development was collaboratively developed and based on community feedback and interests to the greatest extent possible (given financial constraints, the steep hillside slope, conflicting desires and other challenges and development considerations).

The current conceptual plan includes:

  • Two for-sale, single-family, live/work units facing Dobson Street.  The PHCA will work with the URA and other funding sources to try to offer deferred second mortgages for these units to make them more affordable to the buyer.
  • Eight Brereton Street apartment (rental) units around 800 square feet each that the developer committed to converting to for-sale (owner-occupied) no later than five years after rental tenants move in.
  • Flexible building design that would allow for future consolidation of the Brereton Street apartment units into larger units if the owners desired (by having the structural capability to combine two units vertically or horizontally).
  • Construction with environmentally certified, modular, pre-fabricated materials. This lowers costs, increases consistency and quality of construction, improves energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, and decreases utility bills.
  • Adequate off-street, side-by-side (not tandem) parking for each unit.

This development accomplishes the goals defined in the Polish Hill Community Plan and expressed by residents, and allows for flexibility that can evolve over time with the neighborhood.

Detailed drawings and floor plans for all ten units of the Brereton/Dobson Fire Site Development plan have been completed by project architects Pfaffmann + Associates and developer Green Development Inc. and were presented at an open, general PHCA meeting on Tuesday September 2.  Click here to read about the presentation and see some of the drawings.

We will provide regular updates and opportunities for comment as we work with the development team on more detailed design development/plan refinement (materials, colors, etc.), zoning variances, financing approvals and other development details.

Project Documents

Community Meeting #4  Schematic Design Presentation
Includes: History, Schematic Design, Design Development, and Next Steps.
Fire Site Schematic Design Presentation

Community Meeting #3 Fire Site Sketchbook (What’s the plan for the site?)
These slides show how community input was narrowed down to several different density options. These 3D models show what the units could look like with 3, 4, 6 or 8 rental micro units on Brereton Street and 2 for-sale live/work units on Dobson Street. These slides were presented at the March 11 Fire Site community meeting at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, followed by breakout sessions that discussed density/ownership structure and look and feel, and then a full group community feedback session.
March 11 Sketch Booklet

Community Meeting #2 Summary Booklet (Notes & Photos)
This document shows an overview of the work sessions at the Jan. 27 community meeting, including “the wishlist” derived from the meeting, an evaluation guide and alternative site plans.
Fire Site 1.27.14 Workshop Booklet

Polish Hill Identity/Personality Findings
This document shows the results of a three-hour, intensive, hands-on workshop that explore the personality and identity of Polish Hill. It was led by Fit Associates, a creative facilitation firm located in Polish Hill.
Polish Hill Identity Workshop Findings

Design Process
This document shows past and future community meetings and the schedule of the design process as well as the construction process.
Design Process Chart v3

Market Analysis
In June 2013, a market study was done to identify what sort of project would be a good fit for the neighborhood and financially viable for a developer.  Here is the summary from that study:
Brereton-Dobson Fire Site Market Study Executive Summary

Meet Polish Hill
Fit Associates, a creative facilitation firm located in Polish Hill, created a document to introduce the neighborhood to potential development teams.


Edible Garden at West Penn Park

City crews building edible garden beds

In July 2013, PHCA volunteers and a crew from the Department of Public Works (DPW) installed raised beds at West Penn Park. The beds are part of the new Edible Gardens program, an expansion of the City’s Green Up Pittsburgh program. In partnership with the servePGH initiative and DPW, Edible Gardens across Pittsburgh will harvest and distribute nearly one ton of produce to at least 200 families in its first year.

Knotweed Knockout


The Sprout Fund Spring Program jump-started our Knotweed Knockout biodiversity project in 2011. The first phase is designed to combat the invasive Japanese Knotweed and to plant native trees in its place. The site, located on Melwood Avenue under the Bloomfield Bridge, is still in-progress and maintained by Green Team volunteers.

Iron City Brewery

Development of the 9-acre, former Iron City Brewery site will have a long-lasting impact on Polish Hill. From April 2012 through August 2013, the PHCA advocated on behalf of the neighborhood as part of the ICB Master Planning Steering Committee. The committee, which was led by Lawrenceville Corporation, and included leaders from Lawrenceville, Polish Hill and local government, worked with the owner, Collier Development LP, and architects at DLA+ Architecture & Interior Design to discuss plans, designs and uses for the site.

Unfortunately, despite the committee’s best efforts to convince them otherwise, it appears that Collier Development LP is not interested in developing, and being guided by, a candid understanding of the feasibility to reuse various historic buildings at the former brewery site. The developer’s inflexibility makes a collaborative planning effort impossible.

In September 2013, the Lawrenceville Corporation notified Collier Development LP that they and the committee would be withdrawing from the master planning process. Moving forward, the PHCA, Lawrenceville Corporation and relevant committee partners will remain vigilant in monitoring any efforts to modify the site, which is a City of Pittsburgh Designated Historic Property. For more information, please see the full LC statement.