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PPG grant helps Hazelwood school with renovations, engineering programs

Since 2003, a local federation of public charter schools known as Propel Schools has aimed to provide academic strongholds to disadvantaged communities in Pittsburgh. With nine such schools in the greater Pittsburgh area, a tenth was added to the list at the beginning of the 2014 school year in Hazelwood.
 
“We chose Hazelwood because of community,” said Jeremy Resnick, the executive director of the Propel Schools Foundation and founder of Propel Schools. “They lost their last school in 2006. Kids were being bused all over the city. It was about bringing the community together.”
 
Schools are one of the foundations of a community and without a local school for nearly a decade, Hazelwood’s community wasn’t the same.
 
“We had kids on the same block, six of them, who all went to different schools,” said Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor.
 
A school abandoned for six years has now been refurnished. With 5-foot-wide staircases dabbed with blue paint streams, small paint puddles dotting the floor and classrooms infused with the brightness of colors, Propel Hazelwood is a blooming flower in a new garden.
 
With Propel Hazelwood now running all cylinders, seeds of hope are being planted in Hazelwood, and Propel Schools aren’t the only ones responsible for that.
 
During a recent press conference at Propel Hazelwood, PPG Industries wrote a check for $50,000 to the Propel Schools Foundation, ensuring the nonprofit’s membership in the just-announced Colorful Communities Initiative, a $10 million action devoted to bringing color into schools, neighborhoods and communities around the world. Fourteen projects are planned in 2015, two of them in the United States. One is being established in Cleveland at a new youth center within blocks of PPG’s largest automotive coatings manufacturing facility in North America. The other? Propel Hazelwood.
 
“Engagement was a natural fit for PPG when you see a company that imparts to nurture an interest in science throughout their education and even where we can fit in college and tech schools,” said PPG Industries Corporate Communications Manager Mark Silvey. “It’s more about a collaborative relationship, learning about what programs like Propel are doing and providing what they need for students.”
 
PPG’s donated plenty to getting Propel Hazelwood up and running. After 14,400 square feet of drop cloths to cover the floors, 347 hours of PPG employees’ volunteer time, 84 paint rollers, 48 paint trays, 28 paint brushes, 24 paint buckets and eight paint colors, Propel Hazelwood was re-created.
 
“That means we can put money into the education and not in the walls,” said Resnick.

The grant to Propel Schools will help to fund the latest renovations and also implementation of Engineering is Elementary, an award-winning curriculum developed by the Museum of Science, Boston. 
 
The science institute at Propel provides students with at least 45 minutes of instruction per day. Using science kits from the South Side-based company ASSET STEM, students have an opportunity for a “hands-on, minds-on” education.
 
“We have 20 science partners that we work with, including Bayer and scientists with different organizations who come into the classroom,” explained Kristen Golomb, director of science instruction and programming at Propel Schools. “That’s what makes us special.”
 
In a city once known for its booming steel industry, Pittsburgh neighborhoods like Hazelwood have struggled in recent times and fallen into a black and white world. The paint illuminating the walls of Propel Hazelwood is a first step in brightening the future for students here.
 
Scientists from PPG Industries facilitated lab sessions with the students on May 29, mixing Play-Doh to change two widely known colors into something new.
 
“Just to see the growth in the children is amazing and how different it was, how far we’ve come, it’s a lot,” said kindergarten teacher Krista Marino. “We’re such a family here.”
 
A community that was left behind has now been reunited in a school built on paving the way for future generations and educating Pittsburgh’s youth. Kevin Acklin, chief of staff for Mayor Bill Peduto, interlocked the initiatives in Hazelwood with the ongoing changes in Pittsburgh as a whole.
 
“We’re rebuilding ourselves. We’re growing,” Acklin said.
 
Those five words best summarize what is happening in Hazelwood and throughout the city of Pittsburgh. As Pittsburgh builds a bright future for itself, Propel Schools, with the help of PPG Industries, is educating the next generation on how to build so as to help with the rebirth.
 

Pool halls struggle to attract next generation

They say that having a good pool shot is the sign of a misspent youth. If that's the case, many Pittsburgh locals have misspent their youth at the local pool halls that remain in the area.

But younger people these days are choosing to spend their youth elsewhere.

Despite the gritty allure pool halls have -- harkening back to Paul Newman's portrayal of Fast Eddie Felson in “The Hustler” -- the local venues have struggled to attract a new generation of pool players.

Some in the area, including The South Hills Golden Cue in Bridgeville, could potentially close if business does not pick up.

“I think there are pockets that come in,” said Joseph Busche, owner of the Golden Cue, which has 17 pool tables and one billiard table. “But I think video games and social media changed the picture. Kids socialize in different ways. You can use social media to attract them. But other places can attract them too.”

The Golden Cue has been open since the late 1970s. Long-time owner Jimmy Marino, a local pool legend and former world champion, died in January. Busche took over in May.

There are plans at the Golden Cue to appeal to a wider audience. Busche, who is also a physics professor at Wheeling Jesuit University, plans on turning the stadium seating section into a small planetarium, which he hopes will attract kids wanting to learn more about astronomy.

The Golden Cue does not serve beer, but visitors can bring their own. The venue currently has a no-smoking policy.

Breakers Billiards and Lounge in Dormont allows beer drinking in its bar, which makes it easier for them to turn a profit.

“Back in the 1980s, the pool hall scene was better,” said Paul Mottey, owner of Breakers. “But our business has improved every year since we’ve opened. If you don’t have a bar, you’re going to suffer.”

Mottey also has seen the trend toward video games away from physical games.

“There are very few kids playing pool or baseball anymore,” Mottey said. “They’re all playing video games.”

Chuck Farinella, president of the Players’ League, a group dedicated to growing the sport in Pittsburgh and elsewhere, agreed that computers are one of the primary reasons pool play has declined.

“People like to be entertained and some challenged to a varying degree,” Farinella said. “Just think of the different types of games that can be played on a computer and without leaving your room, let alone your home. As the entertainment level was achieved, less people would pursue playing pool.”

One of the ways pool aficionados hope to grow the sport is by including professionals more frequently at the local pool hall level, said Farinella.

Farinella said having talented pool players teaching trick shots along with providing other valuable lessons is something that would attract a new generation of pool players.

Pool hall owners like Busche hope to get the next generation into their pool hall any way they can.

“I’d like to get more kids in here,” Busche said. “When I started playing in college in the late 1980s, it was more popular. But the younger you get them in here, the more you’ll grow the sport.”

Celebrate Bike to Work Day on Friday with Bike PGH

This Friday, May 15, is National Bike to Work Day and Bike PGH is helping hundreds of Pittsburgh bike commuters celebrate.
 
Ngani Ndimbie, Bike PGH communications manager, said Bike PGH is setting up five Commuter Cafés where participating Bike to Work cyclists can grab free breakfast and coffee. Cafés will be located in Oakland, Downtown, Friendship, North Side and South Side on Friday from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
 
Ndimbie called these pop-up cafés a fun way to meet and mingle with other bike commuters and added that this is Bike PGH’s 14th year hosting a Bike to Work Day event. Last year, 600 to 700 bike commuters popped into the cafés and more than 1,000 people are expected to bike to work on May 15, according to Ndimbie.
 
“We’ve been really excited to see this celebration grow,” she said. Ndimbie added that according to recent U.S Census Bureau figures, Pittsburgh has seen a 408 percent increase in the number of people who bike to work since 2000.  
 
Most Bike PGH members participating in the event will receive one of 350 swag bags distributed from the Commuter Cafés, made by the local cyclewear company Aero Tech Designs. But, 15 bags will include Golden Tickets that garner special prizes, like a Brooks bike saddle.
 
In addition to camaraderie and prizes, Ndimbie said the event hopes to expose people to bike commuting. In order to get more people peddling, Bike PGH is coordinating bike trains where newer riders can meet with a group in their neighborhood to ride to the nearest Commuter Café and on to work. The Bike PGH website explains, “Think of Bike Trains as carpools for people on bikes, but more fun.”
 
Ndimbie said volunteer conductors will lead the trains so new riders can learn from more experienced commuters, adding, “[It’s a] great day to get hooked on biking to work.”
 
Source: Ngani Ndimbie, Bike PGH
 
 

Annual Carpenters Design-Build Competition gives back to Pittsburgh Botanic Garden

Young professionals from the construction industry get hands-on experience -- literally -- while giving back to the community at the upcoming Carpenters Design-Build Competition & Open House.
 
The Carpenters Union and the Master Builders’ Association will host the annual event from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, May 8, at the Carpenters Training Center in Collier Township. After more than a decade, this event continues to serve as a prestigious opportunity to market young professionals as they participate in a charitable design challenge. This year, contestants will build autism-friendly play stations that will be donated to the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.
 
Jon O'Brien, Master Builders' Association of Western PA director of industry relations, explained that fourth-year apprentice carpenters are randomly paired with area architects to complete the design challenge. These teams of architects, engineers and carpenters have two weeks to come up with a design.
 
The play stations are interactive booths with a botanical flair. They are also autism-friendly as the stations are intended to educate children about the different senses.  The six-foot stations will feature designs and activities mirroring touch, sound, smell, taste and sight.
 
“The young creative minds … the stuff they come up with is amazing,” O’Brien said about the young carpenters.
 
Tours of the Carpenters Training Center will be available throughout the day. Carpenter representatives will guide visitors through the center so that guests can get a better understanding of the skilled workforce that is relied upon to build our region. Construction industry vendors will exhibit their products and services during the day.
 
Many high school students attend the event to learn about carpenters programs and other opportunities in construction and architecture. O’Brien said the event shows students “this is an option for their future.”
 
The event takes place at the Carpenters Training Center, 652 Ridge Road, Collier Township, with public hours from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 
 
 
Source: Jon O'Brien, Master Builders' Association of Western PA

First-of-its-kind Vacant Home Tour showcases Wilkinsburg homes

Stately front porches, columns, Victorian architecture and history are all elements of a successful home tour. And, Wilkinsburg’s tour will highlight five homes with these coveted features, though there is one catch: The homes are abandoned.
 
The first-ever Vacant Home Tour, a project developed by students at Carnegie Mellon University in partnership with the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, will be held in Wilkinsburg on Saturday, May 9, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is a self-guided neighborhood walking tour that is free and open to the public.
 
“The Vacant Home Tour aims to address [blight] by highlighting some of Wilkinsburg’s historic vacant properties,” said Tracey Evans, WCDC executive director. “The tour will include a workshop component, which will provide people with information and tools that can be used to acquire and rehabilitate vacant homes and commercial properties in Wilkinsburg.”
 
The overall goal of the tour is to eliminate blight by reframing the issue as an opportunity for rehabilitation in the Borough of Wilkinsburg. The tour will showcase five historic vacant homes located throughout Wilkinsburg (718 Whitney Ave., 740 Hill Ave., 816 South Ave., 1329 Singer Place and 831 Rebecca Ave.), including properties in the Singer Place and Hamnett Place neighborhoods.
 
The idea for the Vacant Home Tour was born last fall when Ken Chu, a CMU public policy graduate student in the Heinz College, took a class about design for humanitarian impact. He and a few classmates, of varying backgrounds spanning from architecture to design to robotics, worked on a group project with the goal of developing ideas to remediate blight in the Pittsburgh region.
 
Marlee Gallagher, WCDC communications and outreach coordinator, said Chu and his classmates met with residents of the Hamnett Place neighborhood to discuss what could be done to improve the community and the idea for the home tour was born. Chu is carrying out this event as his culminating spring capstone project. 
 
Gallagher called the Vacant Home Tour “a cool new project that hadn’t been done anywhere.” She added that the event could be replicated in other places to help remediate blight.
 
“[The event shows] people that acquiring properties is a tangible thing,” she said.
 
Community members will serve as tour guides, greeting participants at each stop along the tour and relaying each property’s history. All tour goers will receive a tour kit, complete with a tour map as well as photos, historical facts and information about each property. During the tour, the WCDC, PHLF and partners will host two resource workshops for tour goers who are interested in acquiring and rehabilitating a vacant property. The workshop will feature speakers who specialize in acquiring, financing and rehabilitating vacant homes and buildings. Workshop attendees will learn about the processes, available tools, risks and challenges and rewards involved in acquiring vacant property. 
 
“There are several hundred vacant properties in Wilkinsburg, so it was hard to pin down just five,” Gallagher said.
 
And, the five properties, along with others in the borough, are eligible to be acquired, Gallagher explained. She said the event will promote ways to acquire these properties, including the Vacant Property Recovery Program.  
 
Gallagher said it can cost less than $10,000 to acquire a house via the Vacant Property Recovery Program. Additional expenses depend on the work that goes into the individual property, though costs usually include plumbing, electric and roof renovations that in total can cost between $30,000 and $50,000.
 
In March, the Wilkinsburg Vacant Home Tour was recognized as a finalist in the Fels National Public Policy Competition at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The Fels Competition resulted in a $5,000 award, which will be used to cover tour expenses. In addition to this award, the tour is being sponsored by Neighborhood Allies, through a Small & Simple grant, with additional funding support provided by Carnegie Mellon University. 
 
The tour will feature house histories with displays and artifacts, as well as showcasing Wilkinsburg as a community.  Other points of interest along the tour route will include the Wilkinsburg Train Station, Hosanna House, Wilkinsburg Boys & Girls Club, Landmarks Preservation Resource Center, Singer Mansion and Garden Dreams Urban Farm & Garden. The Wilkinsburg High School band is also set to play. Tour coordinators expect more than 400 attendees and are actively seeking volunteers to assist during the tour. 
  
 
Source: WCDC, Marlee Gallagher 

Bottle shop and bar program opens at Marty's Market

Brunch just got boozier at Marty’s Market in the Strip District.
 
Last Thursday, the gourmet grocer already boasting a coffee bar, café, market and butchery, opened its anticipated bottle shop with a wide craft selection from regional breweries. And, this weekend, Marty’s unveiled its new bar program with its brunch menu now bolstering breakfast beers and cocktails.
 
Beverage consultant Will Groves, formerly with Legume's bar Butterjoint, is helping to establish the bar program and bottle shop. Groves said he was excited to work with Marty’s as the coffee bar’s products and espresso machine is fodder for interesting coffee cocktails, like the Kentucky Cortado, an espresso and whiskey brunch cocktail at Marty’s. Groves added that not a lot of bars have access to professional, high-quality espresso.
 
Though the restaurant menu may only feature a dozen or more beers, café customers can grab a beer from the bottle shop’s wide selection to pair with their meals. Marty’s popular outdoor seating area and coffee bar stools also allow drinking.
 
Groves said he focused on providing an array of local brews and a wide selection of IPAs in the bottle shop.
 
"If you break out the best selling beers in America right now by style …  IPA is No. 3,” he said. “It’s your standard beer for a craft beer consumer.”
                                          
Groves noted North Country Brewing Company out of Slippery Rock and Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s Chillwave Double IPA as personal favorites in the bottle shop. He said the Chillwave Double IPA is hoppy with a hint of honey, which gives it a floral note and adds to drinkability.
 
In addition to existing six-packs, customers can also purchase individual beers or create their own six-pack for $12.99.
 
With the launch of the bar program and beer shop, Marty’s Market is currently hiring new positions, from bartenders to baristas and beer geeks to staff the new bottle area.
 
Source: Regina Koetters, Marty’s Market, Will Groves 
 

Bottom Dollar site in Garfield to become ALDI store

After Bottom Dollar announced it would be closing all 20 of its Pittsburgh locations by the end of 2014, the fate of the Bottom Dollar site at 5200 Penn Ave. in Garfield generated much concern from residents.
 
ALDI announced last November that it planned to purchase Bottom Dollar stores, not operations, though the specific locations were uncertain. 
 
Brent Laubaugh, vice-president at ALDI's regional headquarters in Saxonburg, Butler County, recently announced that the Penn Avenue store -- which has been the focus of much recent community activity to bring another high-quality food retailer to the city's East End -- will open again as an ALDI grocery store. 

ALDI announced that the company has completed its purchase of 66 real estate assets from the Delhaize Group, including the Penn Avenue location. The transaction includes the land, buildings and leasehold improvements associated with Delhaize’s recently retired Bottom Dollar Food operation.
 
Mayor Bill Peduto’s office released a statement that Peduto, the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, and the citizens and business owners in the Penn Avenue corridor were excited about the news from the ALDI.
 
"The ALDI business model will be a great asset to the residents of Garfield and a number of the neighborhoods surrounding it," Peduto said. "For folks who want to stretch their grocery dollar, ALDI can be a great place to shop."
 
In 1987, a Giant Eagle grocery store closed on Penn Avenue, forcing neighborhood residents to travel miles to purchase groceries. For residents without cars and elderly residents, this proved to be a hardship, especially in the winter months, according to Peduto.
 
The mayor and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald met in February with ALDI officials and urged them to give the Penn Avenue location serious consideration as a possible third store in the city. ALDI currently operates stores in Pittsburgh on Baum Boulevard and East Carson Street.
 
"ALDI said they would work to achieve a positive outcome for the community with this site, no matter what would happen, and they were true to their word," Peduto said. "Today's announcement is another great example of what happens when Pittsburgh business, neighborhood and our government leaders -- including Executive Fitzgerald and City Councilwoman Deb Gross -- come together to work for the common good."

In December 2013, ALDI embarked on an accelerated growth plan to open 650 new stores by the end of 2018, with the goal of operating nearly 2,000 stores across the country. ALDI also is planning to invest more than $3 billion to pay for land, facilities and equipment. When the expansion is complete, ALDI will have stores coast to coast and anticipates serving more than 45 million customers per month. The expansion is expected to create more than 10,000 new jobs at ALDI stores, warehouses and division offices.

To see the full list of stores ALDI plans to re-open across the region, please read this announcement from the organization. 
 
 
Source: Office of Mayor William Peduto, ALDI

Mockup unveiled of anticipated Tower at PNC Plaza

Practice makes perfect -- even when it comes to building a skyscraper.
 
Upon completion, The Tower at PNC Plaza will forever alter the landscape of the Pittsburgh skyline. In the meantime, designers have built a mockup in a 1,200-square-foot test space in Green Tree. The tower’s southwest was replicated, with its technology and design elements implemented on a smaller scale. 
 
Because most solar buildings face issues with sun and heat gain in their southwest corners, PNC chose to replicate that corner of the 33-story office building, according to Mike Gilmore, director of design and construction services at PNC.
 
“There’s a lot of things that have to interface with one another,” Gilmore said. “In order to get it all to tie together … that was the reason for the mockup.”
 
According to PNC, no other company in the United States has constructed a commercial office building mockup of this scale.
 
The mockup helps PNC to identify and address construction and operational issues before technology and design elements are rolled out on the tower site. The copy features the tower's double-skin facade, solar chimney, automated blinds and lighting system -- all of which will contribute to the building's energy efficiency.
 
The Tower at PNC Plaza is expected to consume 50 percent less energy than a typical office building. The mockup has helped to resolve energy issues in addition to catching design obstacles that would have affected the development schedule. According to a statement from the company, this approach has yielded savings of more than $5 million. 
 
Gilmore explained that the curtain wall system was overheating and the glitch was caught in the mockup. 
 
“If we had to [make alterations] onsite, it would have cost us millions of dollars,” Gilmore said.
 
The mockup also allowed contractors to see how pieces were connected and give more exact estimations when it came to pricing. Now, as the tower is being constructed, the mockup is still being used by PNC to check the work. If a snag occurs on site, they can consult the mockup to see if the error also occurred there and how to make changes efficiently on a smaller scale.
 
The mockup sits in a green space near the parking lot of the tower’s control system operators, Automated Logic. After the tower opens in fall 2015, the mockup will be dissembled and reused, or will become available for another company to use for research purposes.
 
For more information about the development and mockup, please visit www.thetoweratpncplaza.com.  
 
Source: Mike Gilmore, Emily Krull, PNC

PGH Bike Share picking up speed this month

Pittsburgh Bike Share is finally hitting the ground cycling with the goal of putting 500 bikes on the streets within the next two months.
 
PGH Bike Share is planning to install 50 stations in April and have a full public launch in May.
 
“We do have goals of aggressively expanding the system over the next few years,” said PGH Bike Share Executive Director David White.  
 
The program was announced in 2013 and launch dates have changed in the past couple of years, but now bike share will be a new form of the envisioned 24/7 transportation in the city. Users can purchase a pass at one of several kiosks, day or night, to borrow a bike and drop it off at another kiosk anywhere the city -- which could be located in a different neighborhood.
 
The PGH Bike Share Facebook page explains that bike sharing is an innovative approach to urban mobility, combining the convenience and flexibility of a bicycle with the accessibility of public transportation.

“I think Pittsburghers are thrilled to take advantage of one of the leading technologies and active forms of transportation,” White said.
 
Though payment rates for the rentals have not been announced, bikers will be able to pay via a smartphone app or at the stations. Frequent users will also have the opportunity for membership.
 
The $2.6 million program, with funding from Hillman Foundation, Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation, Colcom Foundation and The Buhl Foundation, will operate with bikes from nextbike, a German company specializing in bike share and rentals.  
 
 
Source:  David White, Pittsburgh Bike Share
 

Pageboy Salon & Boutique celebrates five years and new products

After five years of pairing Pittsburghers with fresh cuts and vintage styles, Pageboy Salon & Boutique is undergoing a makeover of its own.
 
Pageboy invites guests to join in celebrating its fifth anniversary with a public reception featuring music and refreshments from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, March 27.
 
In addition to celebrating this sapphire anniversary, Pageboy is growing its focus on personal grooming products for women and men.
 
The salon and shop on Butler Street in Lower Lawrenceville has come a long way since 2010. Pageboy offered a two-for-one experience for clients: vintage and upcycled fashion up front and a full-service hair salon in the back. It wasn’t long before proprietor Dana Bannon brought on additional stylists and expanded her one-chair salon. Now, on Pageboy’s anniversary, Bannon has decided to make big changes once again.
 
Bannon reflected on changes in the neighborhood as well, citing fewer destination stores in the neighborhood in 2010, and noting an expansion of boutiques and restaurants toward Upper Lawrenceville.
 
Though the community is still changing, Bannon said she thinks there will always be camaraderie among business owners. As a community, Lawrenceville shops are always happy to work together on events, and as independent small businesses, owners rely on one another, Bannon said.
 
“I think it’s a really great place to have a small business,” she said.
 
Bannon said she believes that Lawrenceville will remain a neighborhood of small and independent businesses because entrepreneurs and community organizations are conscious about what the neighborhood wants. As long as business owners keep listening, she said, Lawrenceville will stay the same neighborhood that Pittsburgh knows and loves. 
 
The “new” beauty-focused shop will feature a collection of products sourced from small, independent companies with an emphasis on small-batch, organic and cruelty-free items.
 
“We are very salon-oriented, but I like the lifestyle aspect of having retail,” Bannon said, adding that the shop no longer carries apparel, though it will still feature beauty-related products and jewelry.  “[We are] still a lifestyle store, but something that marries a little more [of] what we’re doing in the store.”
 
Cosmetics, perfumes, luxury bath and body and men’s grooming products and tools will be just a few of the many things you’ll soon find at Pageboy, in addition to the shop's longstanding tradition of showcasing jewelry and accessories from local and independent jewelry designers.
 
The new products will be available beginning Wednesday, March 25. 
 
Source: Pageboy Salon & Boutique, Dana Bannon

New Downtown hotels breathe life into historic buildings

The architect of record for the recently opened Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh is bringing two more hotels to the city.
 
Combining its expertise in historic preservation and adaptive reuse with creative placemaking, Strada, a cross-disciplinary design firm, is helping to breathe new life into a series of buildings built in the first half of the 20th century. These designs preserve many of the buildings’ original features to create distinctive hotel experiences.
 
Strada is a firm where architects and interior designers collaborate closely with urban designers, landscape architects and graphic designers to create places for people. In addition to Strada, the Hotel Monaco’s project design team included Gensler, Beleco Design, Mark Zeff and Ohm Lighting.
                                                                                                      
The Hotel Monaco occupies the James H. Reed Building, Downtown. Erected in 1903, the property now features 248 guest rooms, 13 suites, a 120-seat restaurant, and a rooftop deck. Guests uncover surprising details throughout the hotel such as bird-foot lamps in the lobby, trompe l’oeil wall coverings in the elevators and bold houndstooth draperies in the guest rooms. The Commoner restaurant’s industrial-chic design gives a nod to the city’s past and is accentuated by an intimate bar, an open kitchen and glowing amber glass walls.
 
And Strada is working to bring the same detail to two more Pittsburgh hotels, the Drury Inn & Suites Pittsburgh and the Distrikt Hotel.
 
The marble banking hall and wood-paneled board room of Pittsburgh’s Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank Building will become a focal point of the new 200-room Drury Inn & Suites. A clean palette of contemporary materials will complement the existing Art Deco finishes and detailing of the 1930s-era structure. A rooftop deck and pool are planned for the eighth floor -- tucked under the mansard roof. Strada is the architect for the project and is also providing interior design services along with the Drury Hotels’ in-house design staff. Construction on the hotel is scheduled to begin in May, with an anticipated opening in 2016.
 
Pittsburgh's Distrikt Hotel will breathe life into the quirky old Salvation Army Building. The building’s original chapel will be used as a lobby, lounge and mezzanine bar available to all, and the original gym will become a restaurant. The circa-1924 building brings more than limestone block and stained-glass windows to the project. The 180-room Distrikt Pittsburgh is putting historic elements to work, including ornate vaulted beams and original woodwork. Strada is both the architect and interior designer for the hotel, which plans to open in the summer of 2016.
 
Source: Strada

Fairmont Pittsburgh Canine Ambassador to host charitable birthday bash

On Wednesday, March 25, the Fairmont Pittsburgh is going to the dogs.
 
The Downtown hotel will host a birthday “yappy hour” for Edie, its resident canine ambassador, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on March 25 in the lobby. Edie is a boxer and Labrador retriever mix who works at the hotel greeting visitors and escorting guests on walks.
 
Edie was originally adopted by Circle Tail, an organization that trains service animals. But, after completing training with the organization, she was too friendly for service. So, Edie was adopted by the Fairmont where her sunny disposition proved better suited to the hospitality industry.
 
“Her main job is really to welcome our guests and make them feel at home,” said Julie Abramovic, public relations manager at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, noting that Edie’s dog bed and toys are right in the lobby when guests arrive. Abramovic added about Edie’s ambassadorship, “She’s out in the community attending different events … animal adoption is a cause that’s near and dear to her heart.”
 
The party is open to the public, and friendly dogs and humans are welcome to attend. The birthday party will benefit Animal Friends, a nonprofit companion animal resource center in Ohio Township.
 
Adoptable dogs from Animal Friends will be on site. Instead of presents, guests are asked to bring a donation for the organization. Grain-free treats, new toys, individually wrapped bones or treats, and dental hygiene and grooming items for dogs, cats and rabbits are needed. Cash donations are also welcome: A $25 donation will provide basic care for one animal for one day; $50 will fund a spay/neuter; $75 will fund one dog adoption; and $100 will provide one day of pet therapy visits at Animal Friends.
 
Fairmont Pittsburgh pastry chef James Wroblewski will prepare dog-friendly birthday cake for Edie and her canine friends.
 
Refreshments will also be available for human party-goers including a specialty “Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog” cocktail, which --- as a nod to both dogs and the King -- is a peanut butter banana Captain Morgan drink with a candied bacon garnish. 
 
Canine guests can expect favors, party hats and giveaways. Abramovic said The Dog Stop donated a basket and guests can also win a night at the hotel. While she said she knows some aspects of the event are silly, Abramovic said the important thing is that the party puts the spotlight on Animal Friends.
 
Edie’s fifth birthday also marks the fifth anniversary of the Fairmont Pittsburgh. Abramovic noted Downtown development around the hotel in the past five years, like the new PNC headquarters coming to the area and an increase of restaurants and activity in Market Square. 
 
“There’s just more for guests to do,” she said. 
 
Fairmont Pittsburgh is located at 510 Market St., Downtown.
 
 
Source: Julie Abramovic, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

Support The Pop Stop's new 'Sweet Truck' with a crowdfunding campaign

“It started with just a bike,” said Todd Saulle, co-owner of The Pop Stop, a local gourmet popsicle vendor.
 
The Pop Stop is a husband-and-wife business -- Saulle and his wife Laura -- that started in 2013 with a bike, some coolers and a fresh new product that combines fresh fruit and herbs to make ice pops.
 
“Everything is fresh,” Saulle said. He then joked, “We don’t use any frozen fruit … until we freeze it ourselves.”
 
The coolers, packed with dry ice, could carry about 200 popsicles, Saulle said. But the cooler and bike combo was cumbersome. So, in 2014, The Pop Stop upgraded to two small push carts.
 
With the carts, The Pop Stop has been a staple at city events like Shadyside's Weather Permitting, the North Side's annual Deutschtown Music Festival and the weekly Downtown Farmers Market in Market Square. 
 
But, Saulle is currently working on a way to improve mobility and garner more business with the Pop Stop Sweet Truck, a food truck peddling artisanal summer treats.
 
“Last year, we did about 80 different events,” he said, noting markets, weddings and parties. “We’re really trying to double what we did last year.”  
 
Saulle noted that the truck will be able to handle any size event. He joked that while working some events with the cart he would run out of product and need to leave and come back to continue to sell ice pops.
 
The 1970s Good Humor ice cream truck has been purchased off Craigslist, registered and converted into The Pop Stop’s Sweet Truck, logo and all. But, Saulle said, the interior is still empty.
 
That’s where you come in.
 
Saulle started a foodstart.com crowdfunding campaign to finish the build-out of the truck. Prizes for donating include free treats and ice cream parties.
 
“[You] get to experience the thing you put money toward,” Saulle said about the prizes.
 
Not only will the truck allow Saulle to sell more popsicles, but he will be able to expand to different products as well.

While small-batch ice pops will remain the primary focus, Saulle said he wants the truck to provide the best versions of your favorite novelty mobile treats like shaved ice, ice cream and soda.
 
The Sweet Truck plans to serve “raspados” (Latin American shaved ice with fresh fruit, natural syrup and condensed milk), Leona's Ice Cream Sandwiches (local lactose-free ice cream) and locally bottled Red Ribbon Soda.
 
The truck will also allow The Pop Stop to roll out enhanced versions of their pops, like chocolate dipped ice pops that can be rolled in toppings from shaved coconut to nuts to spices. 
 
The Pop Stop Sweet Truck’s first scheduled event will be May 10 at The Neighborhood Flea in the Strip District.
 
Source: Todd Saulle, The Pop Stop, www.foodstart.com/project/thepopstop

Neighborhood Allies to host New Markets Tax Credits 101 workshop

Neighborhood Allies and the Richard King Mellon Foundation are hosting New Markets Tax Credits 101 on Thursday, March 26, at the Citizens Building, Downtown, for the area's business owners, developers, investors, nonprofits or any organization with a real estate project looking for additional capital.
 
The event, which aims to take the mystery out of the development tool, will include panelists from Novogradac & Company LLP, PNC Bank and others to guide attendants through the workshops. The workshops focus on explaining the New Markets Tax Credit Program, what projects can qualify and case studies of local businesses that have utilized the credit.
 
The NMTC Program works to spur revitalization and rebuilding in low-income communities across the United States as part of the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000. The program provides tax incentives for equity investment in abandoned or underdeveloped communities via Community Development Entities.
 
“I really can’t emphasize enough how important a program like this is,” said Neighborhood Allies President Presley Gillespie. “It’s a tool to transform communities.”
 
Gillespie said Neighborhood Allies’ purpose is "to support revitalization of our neighborhoods by connecting people to resources.” This workshop is another way the organization can educate the community about investment.
 
“We want this powerful economic tool to be used much more frequently in Pittsburgh,” Gillespie said.
 
Gillespie said the event is a great opportunity to educate local partners, create excitement about the NMTC program and ensure that neighborhoods suffering from disinvestment and abandonment benefit with the proper development incentives.
 
New Markets Tax Credits 101 will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 26 at the Citizens Building, 525 William Penn Place, 16th floor. The rate for the Pittsburgh event is $50 per person, which includes lunch.
 
Source: Presley Gillespie, Neighborhood Allies

Pitt names Rebecca Bagley vice chancellor for economic partnerships

Rebecca Bagley has been appointed University of Pittsburgh vice chancellor for economic partnerships by Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement and Chief of Staff Kathy Humphrey. In this newly created position, Bagley, former president and CEO of NorTech, will be responsible for coordinating and expanding Pitt’s ongoing efforts in economic development.
 
As vice chancellor for economic partnerships, Bagley will work with senior leadership to develop a strategic plan for the university in economic development. She will also develop and oversee public and private partnerships that connect and advance the university and have regional and national impact. Another key aspect of her position will be interacting with government, community leadership and the business community on matters pertaining to economic development.
 
In making the appointment, Humphrey noted that Bagley will ascertain the needs in the economic development arena and set Pitt on a more expansive path to making an impact in those areas.
 
“Our mission requires us to provide service to our community,” Humphrey said. “I am thrilled to have Rebecca join our team as she has the expertise to help us fulfill our mission by creating new connections and developing purposeful partnerships that will drive economic growth and development locally, regionally and nationally.”
 
Until Dec. 31, 2014, Bagley led the technology-focused NorTech in strengthening Northeast Ohio’s economic vitality by accelerating the pace of innovation in the region. NorTech used its expertise in emerging industries to foster an innovation environment that provided companies of all sizes, higher education and research institutions and individuals of diverse backgrounds with new opportunities for collaboration that create jobs, attract capital and have long-term economic impact.

In accepting the post, Bagley said she was looking forward to joining a university with a strong commitment to innovation and collaboration.
 
“This is an important role for a university in today’s knowledge-driven economy. The leadership here at Pitt has recognized the impact that the university can have in this regard, and I look forward to being a part of the team that helps fulfill this commitment,” she said.

Prior to joining NorTech in 2009, Bagley, originally from Harrisburg, served as deputy secretary for the Technology Investment Office of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. In that capacity, she was responsible for the administration of several major state initiatives with a total of $79 million in yearly appropriations and more than $1.7 billion in investments.

Before joining DCED, Bagley worked for several investment banks, most notably JPMorgan Chase, where she advised energy and technology companies on mergers and acquisitions. She is also a contributing writer for Forbes.com, where she writes about the need for regions to innovate and collaborate to grow and succeed.

Bagley will join Pitt in her new role on April 7 and has already relocated her family from Ohio to Pittsburgh. The family purchased a home in Schenley Farms and her two daughters, aged 8 and 11, will attend school at Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School. She noted that her husband John Bagley, a woodworker, is inspired by the city’s transitioning landscape.
 
“He sees a lot of development and transitioning of homes back into their glory, and a lot of that is wood-based,” Bagley said.
 
She added that her mother is also making the move from Oberlin to join the family in Pittsburgh, adding that her mother, a master gardener, is most excited about the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
 
Bagley said she and her family are looking forward to life in Pittsburgh and city living.
 
“We were just really excited about the city, how the neighborhoods are set up, the walkability … Everybody is just so positive,” she said. 
 
 
Source: Rebecca Bagley, University of Pittsburgh
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