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Shadyside Giant Eagle Project Raises Questions About Traffic, Housing And Food

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The store is separated from the street by a large surface parking lot that developers say can be put to better use.

The Giant Eagle in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood will be overhauled in 2020. Redevelopment of the Shady Hill Center is expected to demolish the existing 4.9-acre shopping plaza to build new retail, apartments and a smaller Giant Eagle.

David Dorsey drives to the Shakespeare Street grocery store and parks in one of the handicap accessible spots. At a public meeting in Larimer on Thursday, he worried the new store will be harder to navigate and not carry what he needs.

“What’s going to be in there?” he asked. “I thought by rebuilding it would be at least on the level of Market District [on Centre Avenue]. But from that picture they showed us, it’s nowhere near that size.”

The store will be smaller, going from about 54,000 square feet down to 37,000. But the reduction will be made in the dry goods section, said Tina Morascyzk, Giant Eagle’s vice president of real estate.

“The spirit of the redevelopment isn’t to make any compromises with respect to the fresh food offering,” she said.

Construction is expected to begin next year and last 18 months. Residents asked where they’d be able to pick up their prescriptions and shop for food, noting that Market District is already overcrowded. Though the company does not have a finalized plan, Morascyzk said they are considering offering residents grocery delivery and waiving the fee, creating a new curbside pickup location, or even creating a shuttle stop to take residents to another grocery.

Echo Realty owns the land, located just across from the Port Authority’s busy East Liberty Transit Center. “So we want to develop our property so that it is transit-oriented,” said Philip Bishop of Echo. “It encourages mobility, walkability, the use of bikes.”

As part of the proposal for a dense, sustainable project, real estate company Greystar will build 232 new apartments, a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units. Ten percent of those will be affordable to people making half or less than half of the area median income. The development will also accept housing choice vouchers. 

The apartments will be built on top of a proposed 75,000 square feet of retail. All stores will face Penn Avenue, Shakespeare Street and Shady Avenue, but have public entrances in the rear, as well. Sidewalks will be between 16 to 24 feet wide to allow for plantings and public space in addition to travel space. The developers intend to build two more decks of parking above the existing lot for a total of 554 spots.

Shadyside resident Elise Power said the development will make already congested roadways worse.

“This is an established, livable neighborhood, but it’s being choked with traffic. And ... that huge building on Bakery Square isn’t even there yet,” she said, referring to Walnut Capital’s development of Bakery Square on the other side of Penn Avenue.

There are certainly challenges with growth, said Tom Price, the project’s architect and a principal with design firm Strada.

“But if you look at this site, and if you look at all the tax dollars that were spent right here,” he said, pointing to the East Liberty Transit Center. “It just deserves to be more than a surface parking lot.”

Another community meeting is expected to be held in late summer. The developers are still in the planning process.