Strategies for Reclaiming the Lower Hill
Greater Hill District Master Plan
Appendix C: Strategies for Reclaiming the Lower Hill
In the 1950s and early 1960s, much of the Lower Hill District was demolished to make way for a planned cultural district for more affluent Pittsburghers. 1,300 buildings on 95 acres of land were demolished. 413 businesses and over 8,000 residents were forced to relocate, receiving little to no compensation. The Hill District lost its commercial core, much of its population, and its connection to downtown. It was left isolated, disconnected from job opportunities, and starved for capital investment.
The Hill District now has a rare opportunity to correct this legacy. A 28-acre portion of the Lower Hill will soon become available for development. The Management Committee has adopted the following strategies to govern development activities in the Lower Hill, in order to ensure that the Lower Hill is developed in a way that reintegrates the area into the cultural fabric of the community, provides housing and job opportunities for Hill District residents, and serves as a catalyst for market-driven investment throughout the neighborhood:
Neighborhood Design Guidelines. Development in the Lower Hill District should reflect the social, cultural and historical characteristics of the Greater Hill District. The Civic Arena should be demolished.
Entrance. The western entrance to the neighborhood should be marked at the intersection of Centre Avenue and Washington Place- with a prominent structure that honors the history and culture of the Hill District, which could be the artwork by Walter Hood adjacent to the new arena.
Inclusionary Affordable Housing. All housing development plans for the Lower Hill must, to the greatest extent feasible and subject to the regulations associated with any housing assistance resources utilized, provide that at least 30% of all units must be affordable to very low income households (at or below 50% AMI). If public funding is used or if project-based subsidy is available, at least half of the affordable units must, to the greatest extent feasible and subject to the regulations of any housing assistance resources utilized, be affordable to extremely low-income households (at or below 30% AMI). In allocating housing and community development resources, the City and URA should encourage a higher percentage of affordability and/or the use of deep subsidies to achieve deeper income targeting. To the extent possible, and subject to funding availability and HUD approval, HACP should consider making project-based subsidy available for mixed-income housing development in the Hill District, particularly the Lower Hill.
Right to Return. All housing development plans for the Lower Hill District must provide an admissions preference for displaced persons to the greatest extent possible, including persons who were displaced in the Lower Hill urban renewal effort and their descendents.
Business Development Strategies
Inclusionary Business Development. All commercial or retail development plans for the Lower Hill District must include market-tested strategies to achieve a goal of at least 20% of the commercial or retail floor area for businesses that are majority owned by Hill District residents or are currently located in the Hill District, and for businesses that were displaced from the Lower Hill by urban renewal.
Neighborhood-Scale Retail. All commercial or retail development plans for the Lower Hill District must commit best efforts to achieve a balanced retail mix of local, regional and national companies.