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Politics & Government

Hill District Shop-N-Save Funding Finished

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“We’re going back out there, that dirt that has been sitting dormant for so long is going to be active again.”

Cheryl Hall-Russell, the CEO and President of Hill House Association, announced the completion of the funding phase for the Centre Heldman Plaza—a retail center that will also house a Shop-N-Save grocery store: the first supermarket for the Hill District in almost 30 years.

This lack of a grocery store has caused the community to become, in the words of Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny), a “food desert.” But when discussion about this new grocery began a few years ago, Wheatley said he didn’t see it as a pressing issue.

“We’re not in the market for grocery stores, we need jobs. [Rep. Dwight Evans] said, ‘Do you know how many jobs are produced by a full service market?’ People looked around, said 20, 30. [Evans] said, ‘If you do it right, you can have upwards to 60, 80 people moving throughout a grocery store, maybe even 100 if you’re doing it right,” Wheatley recalled.

Evans’ estimates could prove to be correct.  According to the latest numbers from the Hill House, there are expected to be 100 post-construction positions.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said today's funding announcement was about “keeping a promise.”

“And over the course of those past five or six years, there have been ups and downs and I know you all are very familiar with them, but I think today, collectively, we should all be very proud of what we’ve done.’

A $3.8 million dollar funding shortfall had delayed construction.  The gap was filled mostly from $1.9 million in New Markets Tax Credits, a $789,000 federal grant, $400,00 from the Heinz Endowments and a $300,000 grant from McAuley Ministries. 

With the $11.6 million funding phase completed,  construction of the retail complex could begin at the end of this month and be finished in late 2013.