Uptown Task Force
To make this plan a reality, a team of local partners are working together as the Uptown Task Force. This stakeholder committee meets monthly to coordinate projects and track progress of implementing the plan.
Image above: Proposed routes for the BRT through Uptown are each direction on Fifth and Forbes [Image from Port Authority site].
A Bus Rapid Transit system has been proposed by a collective of agencies that will connect Downtown Pittsburgh with Uptown, Oakland, and Wilkinsburg via the East Busway, and includes branches to Squirrel Hill and Highland Park. This route is projected to link more than 30,000 people across 24 neighborhoods via rapid, frequent, and more reliable transit service that is as fast and comfortable as a light rail but could be built much sooner at a fraction of the cost. In addition to enhancing public transit, this project has the potential to more easily link residents to job centers, educational opportunities, medical services, and cultural attractions, and contribute to neighborhood growth.
- Port Authority of Allegheny County
- Allegheny County
- City of Pittsburgh
- Urban Redevelopment Authority
This project will create a pedestrian and bicycle trail from downtown to Oakland and down the Monongahela River, while improving access to natural areas in the hillsides.
- 2009: Greenprint Plan proposes the creation of a trail system through the Greater Hill District.
- 2011: Trail proposal incorporated into Greater Hill District Master Plan.
- 2017: Detailed proposal for portion of trail network included in the adopted Uptown/West Oakland EcoInnovation District Plan.
- 2018-2019: City of Pittsburgh works with consultant to conduct further public engagement and produce detailed concept plan.
- Ongoing: Implementation to take place in phases, the first of which is expected to start in 2020 with private development along the trail.
- Department of City Planning
- Department of Mobility and Infrastructure
- Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority
The EcoInnovation District Plan called for new sustainable development and a community-serving open space on the 2 acres of publicly-owned property at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Dinwiddie Street. Immediately following plan adoption, the Department of City Planning and the Urban Redevelopment Authority held a community design charrette. Teams of residents, community groups, nonprofits, and design professionals worked together on a morning in late November 2017 to create plans for how this catalytic site should be developed. These proposals were presented back to the community at an open house in mid-January 2018. The resulting community ideas and input were incorporated into a Request for Proposals from developers for the site. Public meetings and a committee that included community representatives resulted in the URA board selecting Fifth & Dinwiddie Development, LLC. The development team is pursuing an innovative strategy for the site that includes affordable housing, community-serving, retail, open spaces in new green buildings that orient to the proposed Bus Rapid Transit station on Fifth Avenue.
- 2009: Project idea included in Greater Hill District Master Plan.
- 2017-2018: More detailed proposal included in the adopted Uptown/West Oakland EcoInnovation District Plan. Community design charrette, open house, and other public events identify specific open space needs and priorities for buildings.
- 2019: Urban Redevelopment Authority releases Request for Proposal for development based on community desires. Hill District-based development team selected by the community committee and awarded the site.
- Ongoing: Development team is undertaking community engagement and working with Urban Redevelopment Authority on property disposition.
- Department of City Planning
- Urban Redevelopment Authority
Image above: This map, taken from the EcoInnovation District plan, which highlights areas in Uptown and West Oakland that would benefit from slow streets improvement [Figure 55 from plan].
Although it is a major connector between Oakland and Downtown, Uptown is a neighborhood, first and foremost. PennDot crash data shows that there has been a notable increase in crashes resulting in severe injuries in Uptown since 2010. We have also heard concerns from residents regarding specific intersections, like Fifth Avenue and Robinson Street, where drivers have been seen ignoring traffic laws. Slow streets use tactics like signs, signals, traffic islands, speed humps, corner bumpouts, expanded sidewalks and added crosswalks to help slow traffic. This will help neighborhood safety and promote Uptown's accessibility for pedestrians and bikers. The implementation of these projects is guided by the Uptown Task Force Mobility Subcommittee.
Undergraduate Business Course
For the last two Fall Terms, 350 Duquesne University business undergraduate students have started their studies by focusing on the Uptown/West Oakland EcoInnovation District Plan. The course begins with presentations to give the students background on the plan from Department of City Planning Senior Planner Derek Dauphin, Sustainable Pittsburgh Executive Director Court Gould, Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Sustainable Business Director Gina Johnson, and Avenu Executive Director Tad Hale. The students worked together in groups to hone business plans for Duquesne University initiatives that would help to realize the vision of the community’s plan. Their proposals are informed by research, phone interviews with experts in their topic area, and interviews with community members and stakeholder groups. At a final class, the top five groups presented their proposals to a panel that ranks the students and awarded them scholarships granted by the Business School. Duquesne University is in the process of considering how best to move forward on each proposal.
Sustainable Masters of Business Administration Course
Also for the last two years, a classes of Professor Sroufe’s graduate business students have worked with Uptown Partners, the Department of City Planning and Avenu leadership to initiate research projects to look at existing buildings in Uptown and the costs and opportunities associated with making building improvements that also increase energy performance. Future classes of Sustainable MBA students will focus on other topics related to the Plan.
Image above: Spaces can become more welcoming with an integration of green infrastructure and public amenities. Above is a rendering of a potential small plaza for Fifth and Moultrie [Figure 87 in plan].
When it rains, sewers that flow through Uptown capture rainwater flowing downhill from the Hill District. Many times the accumulated rain will overwhelm the sewer system, resulting in combined sewer overflow — the overload of the sewer system and contamination of local waterways — and basement backups and surface flooding. The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is in the middle of its' Green First planning process across the city to prioritize sewersheds and target investments in green infrastructure as a means of reducing combined sewer overflow events and other stormwater-related hazards. In Uptown, two sewersheds have been identified through the EcoInnovation District planning process for improvement: the M19, which flows from the Upper and Middle Hill through Uptown near the Birmingham Bridge to the Monongahela, and M5, which flows through Uptown's western half.
The M19 sewershed has been identified as a top priority, and further studies are needed in Uptown to identify strategies that can manage stormwater throughout the corridor. Such strategies are likely to include establishing green streets, green alleys and incorporating stormwater systems into parks. Homeowners are also encouraged to enlist their own stormwater management tools, such as rain barrels, rain gardens, small scale urban agriculture and cisterns, to alleviate the negative effects of combined sewer overflow events. These strategies are expected to create multiple benefits of stormwater treatment, reduction in the urban heat island effect, and provide more green space, and are key to spurring development and reinvestment in much of the district as well as supporting the existing residents.
Learn more in the Infrastructure Chapter of the EcoInnovation Plan.
Images above show the complicated original zoning in Uptown (top photo) is compared to the simplified Uptown Public Realm District (bottom photo) that replaced it.
During the EcoInnovation District planning process, residents and stakeholders in Uptown identified a number of issues facing the area today that could be addressed by new development. The adopted Plan calls for the City to adopt amendments to the Zoning Code that would help to ensure that new development in Uptown is better aligned with the sustainability and equity goals in the Plan. The Uptown Public Realm District was developed to regulate all future building projects and the Performance Points Systems was created to allow buildings to grow taller when their projects implement the community’s goals with:
- Energy efficient buildings;
- On-site renewable energy generation or connecting to district energy systems;
- Providing affordable housing;
- Treating stormwater with green infrastructure; and/or
- Reusing existing buildings or designing new buildings consistent with historic character.
The Public Art and Civic Design Division of the Department of City Planning has established a publicly funded art program in Uptown with installations on public property within EcoInnovation District. Requests for proposals will be issued for projects at specified sites throughout the Uptown area. Artists will be selected based on their concept and will work with City Planning staff and the community to develop final proposals. A series of three permanent art installations are planned within the EcoInnovation District. Public Art and Civic Design will be working with the Uptown neighborhood planner on this project, which aligns the soon-to-be-released Art Plan with the goals and objectives of the recently adopted EcoInnovation Plan.
ProjectCONNECT by HackPGH, MetaMash Wireless Communities, and artist Chiaka Zule Howze (July 17, 2018)