URA Board Approves Sale of Centre Avenue Site For Relocation and Expansion of Big Tom's Barbershop

PITTSBURGH, PA (March 12, 2021) The URA Board of Directors has accepted the redevelopment proposal and approved the sale of 2178 Centre Avenue and three adjacent lots in the Hill District to Thomas Boyd for $21,000 plus costs to relocate and expand his business, Big Tom’s Barbershop. 2178 Centre Avenue is the former home to Hamm’s Barber Shop, an iconic building in the neighborhood. Mr. Boyd has operated Big Tom’s Barbershop in the Hill for 15 years.  

"This move brings back Walter Hamm’s legendary location on Centre Avenue and adds in Big Tom’s vision for the rebirth of the Hill," Mayor William Peduto said.  

At its February 2020 Regular Board Meeting, the URA authorized a period of Exclusive Negotiations for Thomas Boyd. Mr. Boyd’s barbershop business will relocate to the first floor of the rehabilitated Hamm’s structure, while the second and third floors will be renovated into 2 two-bedroom apartments, affordable at 50%-80% AMI. The adjacent lots will be used for outdoor deck space that could be utilized by the community or by neighborhood-based businesses. Neighborhood Allies awarded Mr. Boyd a $50,000 predevelopment grant that the URA matched with an additional $50,000. ​The total estimated development cost for this project is $1,316,283.   

“We are very excited about what this expansion signifies, not just for Tom but for the Centre Avenue corridor,” said URA Deputy Executive Director Diamonte Walker. “When we talk about Avenues of Hope, we are talking about working together to realize the community's vision by supporting and investing in local entrepreneurs and neighborhood-based economic development initiatives. Investing in projects like Big Tom’s Barbershop is how we are working to rebuild once thriving business districts and centers of Black culture and commerce, like the Hill District.” 

In July 2019, the URA released an RFQ seeking multiple developers to purchase and redevelop any portion of 170 publicly-owned parcels along the Centre Avenue Corridor in the Middle Hill neighborhood. The goal was to select developers to work to implement uses and further concepts articulated by the community as described in the 2015 Centre Avenue Corridor Redevelopment and Design Plan and the 2011 Greater Hill District Master Plan. Central to the plans are the following priorities:       

  • Creating opportunities for minority and local developers;    
  • Revitalizing Centre Avenue as the neighborhood’s primary retail, institutional, and cultural node as well as a strong residential neighborhood;    
  • Building upon the African American cultural legacy;    
  • Creating family-friendly housing without displacement;    
  • Fostering economic empowerment; and    
  • Producing comprehensive sustainability and quality design.   

On September 9, 2020, the URA held a community meeting in partnership with Council District 6, to present the Centre Avenue Round 1 RFQ proposals for community input. Mr. Boyd presented his proposal to the community and received an approval score of 100%.   

"We're just happy with all the efforts and we appreciate all the support from the URA, Councilman Lavelle, and all the people at Neighborhood Allies," Mr. Boyd said. "I want to push forward to get this development project going because I know it will do a lot to uplift the Hill District community and I'm thankful for the opportunity."



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Timothy McNulty
Communications Director
Mayor's Office