Greetings and Happy New Year! On behalf of the board of Allegheny City Central Association, we wish you all a happy and healthy year ahead. Several years ago, our organization adopted a vision statement focused on returning all of our neighborhood’s vacant lots to productive use by the end of 2015. At the time, 2015 seemed far off in the distance, but as we enter this New Year we thought it would be appropriate to reflect on what we’ve accomplished this past year and what we hope to accomplish in the upcoming year.
A big part of our focus has been working to build upon the success of the recent Federal Hill development and create momentum and positive activity in the northern part of our neighborhood. The Development Committee, currently led by Chris D’Addario, has been instrumental in accomplishing this. The first phase of our scattered site development along Jacksonia Street was completed with our partner October Development and included six new housing units. We also worked with neighborhood resident Frank Quinn who renovated four formerly tax delinquent and abandoned homes on Saturn Way.
This coming year, we are working to build this momentum. Andrew Reichert, a resident of Boyle Street, and his company will break ground on three new homes on Alpine Street this spring. We have released a Request for Proposals for other properties that we own in this area, and hope to work with private developers on similar projects. We also plan to work with potential home owners that will renovate vacant properties through our Great House Sale program.
No discussion of our goals for the upcoming year would be complete without mention of the Garden Theater Block. The Block is the cornerstone project for our neighborhood and the larger Northside. The project has presented many challenges over the past year, and we share the frustration of many of our neighbors that progress has not been quicker. The New Year brings a fresh start with a new developer that has a strong local track record successfully completing difficult projects. Our Board voted unanimously to support the URA’s selection of a team led by TREK Development Group. We believe TREK has the right combination of technical expertise, experience, financial backing and development chops to be under construction by the end of this year.
Another area that we’ve worked on over the past year is safety. When we discuss priorities in the neighborhood with our General Membership, safety is always at the top of the list. Through our rejuvenated Safety Committee led by Tom Westfall, we’ve worked on building positive relationships with our Zone Commander and other elected officials so that we can take a proactive and preventive approach. We’ve invested heavily in cameras, and been fortunate to have residents volunteer to have them placed on their homes. We believe development and safety go hand in hand. They reinforce one another. Safer streets create an environment where people feel comfortable living and investing. These are key to our vision of reclaiming vacant lots and returning them to productive use.
In 2015 we encourage you to become more involved. Our organization relies primarily on the work of volunteers. Together, we can make the change we desire to see. Here’s to a great 2015 – we’ve got a lot of work to do, but our neighborhood can and will do amazing things! Allegheny City Central – All Together. Different.
– Tom Hardy, ACCA Executive Director and Andrew Wickesberg, ACCA President