November 23, 2020 Community, Development
Rendering of the I-579 CAP Park, Lower Hill Open Space and FNB Financial Center. Image courtesy of LaQuatra Bonci Associates
PITTSBURGH, PA – November 19, 2020 – Mayor William Peduto, City Councilman Daniel Lavelle and The Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG) — the commercial redeveloper of the $1 billion Lower Hill mixed-use district — today announced a series of local partnerships to bolster project management, design expertise and community reinvestment, relying in large part on firms located in the Hill District.
Additionally, BPG announced the opening of a new Pittsburgh office at the JLL Center at Tower Two-Sixty on Forbes Avenue, partnering with JLL, its commercial broker for the Lower Hill redevelopment.
BPG and local partners the Pittsburgh Penguins plan to break ground on the next phase of the development in early 2021.
The Lower Hill development team has been expanded to include four Hill District residents, intended to catalyze BPG’s neighborhood revitalization program in alignment with the Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan (CCIP) that was established to guide equitable development on the Lower Hill:
- Bomani Howze – Vice President for The Buccini/Pollin Group. BPG has hired Hill District-based developer Bomani Howze as a Vice President with development management responsibilities in the Pittsburgh region, where BPG also owns the People’s Center office complex on the North Shore. Howze’s areas of focus will be to finalize planning approvals, further define commercial programming and expand the firm’s community engagement platform. Mr. Howze noted: “BPG has been a trailblazer in delivering projects of significant complexity and impact in Baltimore, Washington, Wilmington and other cities with neighborhoods pursuing equitable development similar to Pittsburgh’s Lower Hill District. I’m incredibly excited to join forces with BPG, the Penguins and our extensive, public-private partner network to bring long-promised opportunities to the Hill and to realize the possibilities of reinvestment in my community.” BPG’s Managing Partner Chris Buccini said: “We are delighted to solidify our presence in Pittsburgh by establishing our development office above Market Square, expanding our local team and by partnering with local developer and community builder Bomani Howze. Together, we will work to realize the tremendous potential for this special location.”
- Dorin Dickerson –Director of Project Development for Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pittsburgh Penguins have hired Dorin Dickerson, currently the Community Outreach Manager for Mascaro Construction Company, to serve as Director of Project Development for the Penguins on the Lower Hill development. Mr. Dickerson will coordinate closely with Mr. Howze and focus his efforts on project management, workforce development and community engagement.
- E. Holdings – M/WBE Consultant. Pittsburgh based E. Holdings, led by Hill District resident Irv Williams, has been engaged as the M/WBE consultant for the Lower Hill development. In that capacity, E. Holdings will focus on solidifying bridges between the development team and the minority and women-owned business community to enhance the inclusion of local, disadvantaged contractors and service providers in this transformational project.
- Kimberly Ellis – Legacy Consultant. Hill District historian and designer Dr. Kimberly Ellis has been engaged as the legacy consultant for the Lower Hill development. As she has in the adjacent I-579 CAP Park development project which is currently under construction, Dr. Ellis will channel historical context and diverse stakeholder perspectives to ensure that the development provides an inclusive, welcoming public open space – one that restores visual, recreational, commercial and pedestrian connections between the Hill District and the downtown along Wylie Avenue.
- Lakeisha Byrd – Design Consultant. Hill District resident and architectural design consultant Lakeisha Byrd has been selected to guide elements of the architectural work on the Lower Hill development. Byrd will work closely with Gensler, the architect of record for the development, and their landscape architect to enhance the physical and cultural connection between the development and the Hill District neighborhood.
- Monaloh Basin Engineers – Site Survey Consultant. Woman-owned, Pittsburgh-based engineering firm Monaloh Basin Engineers will provide a team to conduct a survey of the Lower Hill site. The resulting topographical analysis, boundary surveys and subdivision plans will support a broader design initiative of the planned commercial projects and public open space.
- AWK Consulting Engineers – Geotechnical Consultant. Turtle Creek, Pa.–based AWK Consulting Engineers, a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), will perform on-site geotechnical evaluations and design services for the site, documenting foundation requirements for the initial phases of commercial development.
These initial contracting commitments have been released just as the project enters the pre-development home stretch in anticipation of a Q2 2021 groundbreaking. The project’s designer and builder will further enhance this local team as the effort continues to move forward.
“What sets the 28-acre project apart from others is that it will be led by and engages with local Black artists, companies and leaders,” Mayor Peduto said. “By working hand in hand with both community stakeholders and private developers, we are investing in a future that is directly built by its residents. I am proud of the work of our partners and collaborators on this critical work, and especially want to thank URA Executive Director Greg Flisram and Deputy Executive Director Diamonte Walker.”
“It cannot be understated how critical these hires are. I have continually stated that this development should be to the explicit economic and social benefit of the African-American and Hill District community. Hiring four African-American firms that both live and are headquartered in the Hill District are monumental steps towards achieving both objectives,” Councilman Lavelle said. “What’s more, the complete set of firms hired will go a tremendous way in ensuring this is an equitable development centered with the concerns and needs of the residents of the Hill District not just in mind, but also in practice.”
“I want to thank the Penguins and BPG for their commitment to the Lower Hill, as this development will have an immediate and positive economic impact on the Hill District neighborhood and create thousands of jobs to help with our recovery out of the pandemic,” said State Rep. Jake Wheatley.
In recent weeks, the largest mixed-use, multi-tenant office project in the City of Pittsburgh completed its financing requirements to advance toward construction, with an infusion of equity from minority-owned Clay Cove Capital, LLC. BPG received preliminary project approvals from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh as well as the Sports and Exhibition Authority in May 2020.
BPG’s Vice President of Development Boris Kaplan observed: “We are delighted to complement the strong team we already have in place by welcoming professionals of such high caliber, inspiration and in-market credibility. The Lower Hill is going to be a destination comparable to the very best mixed-use projects across the country and we are adding crucial horsepower and diversity of skillsets to the team at a pivotal juncture in the project’s development.”