For most of its history, Hazelwood was a hopping place: it had LTV Steel’s coke works, a trolley line to downtown, a busy shopping district. But like a lot of neighborhoods, Hazelwood suffered during Pittsburgh’s economic decline.
Officials hope new investment in Hazelwood’s business district will allow the community to grow alongside the 178-acre Hazelwood Green project.
After more than a year of work with local partners, the Urban Redevelopment Authority is nearly ready to invite proposals for development along Second Avenue. Community and city leaders say there’s pressure to “get it right.”
A lot of people use Hazelwood as a convenient way to reach the Glenwood Bridge. Sonya Tilghman, executive director of the Hazelwood Initiative, said she’d like people to stop and appreciate the community.
“I think people have a generally negative image of Hazelwood, and it’s really unfortunate, because that’s not the reality,” she said. “Having more retail, more businesses, more reason for people to stop instead of just drive through will help change people’s impression of the neighborhood.”
The request for proposals covers 28 URA-owned lots and specifies mixed-use development, with first-floor commercial space paired with affordable housing above.
“It is the gateway to the neighborhood, as well as the gateway into the Hazelwood Green site,” said Councilor Corey O’Connor, who represents the community. “That’s why this is an important site to do a development at.”
With all the attention paid to Hazelwood Green, the city’s largest remaining former brownfield site, Tilghman said she’s glad to see an investment focus on the neighborhood.
“People lose sight of the rest of Hazelwood,” she said. “They think of [Hazelwood Green] as something separate and it isn’t, it is part of Hazelwood. It is going to be reintegrated into Hazelwood.”
The URA “understands the balance of what’s there and what may be coming,” said Nathan Clark, the agency’s director of real estate. “We’re going to try very hard to balance that correctly.”
URA officials say any development proposals for Second Avenue must align with the neighborhood’s master plan, which Tilghman said is nearly finalized. That plan prioritizes the needs and hopes of the neighborhood’s current residents, and includes things such as access to reliable transit and equitable development.
The URA expects to ask for Second Avenue proposals within the next month.