Polish Hill neighbors have planted community food gardens and decorative gardens for decades. Volunteers organize annual compost and planting at the Wiggins Garden, the Harmar Garden, the two decorative corners at Brereton and 30th Street, the Veterans Memorial at Brereton and Dobson, and numerous side yard gardens owned by neighbors.
Tree plantings are strong in Polish Hill to prevent erosion on our hillsides and beautify our main streets. Neighbors volunteer to plant and keep weeds cut at the West Penn Hillside along Brereton, at the Melwood Parklet under the Bloomfield Bridge, and in tree wells throughout the neighborhood.
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.
Community Land Trust
Polish Hill is collaborating with adjacent neighborhoods to preserve affordable housing through a relatively new mechanism called a community land trust. This type of development allows community groups to retain ownership of land and then lease the land to a builder with a legal contract that requires the housing to stay affordable. Our collaborators at the Lawrenceville Corporation visited in winter 2018 to explain this legal tool for retaining affordability in our neighborhoods.
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).
Our 2018 updated status is that this construction plan is pursuing funding in collaboration with the URA, and it paused until funds are secured. Our Polish Hill community plans below are still the design that will be funded, and PHCA will keep updated.
The most recent public information was August 2017, click here.
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. 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.
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
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
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.