A rendering of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's proposed residential development in the Cultural District. Photos courtesy Pittsburgh Planning Commission.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Pittsburgh Parking Authority are set to move forward with major redevelopment work on two garages Downtown.

The Trust says it’s ready to demolish the former Duff’s Business Institute trade school building at 110 Ninth St. that it purchased in 2000, to provide land for a new residential development with views of the Allegheny River.

The site first would be used for staging for the Parking Authority’s redevelopment of the 9th and Penn Garage, so that the construction work can happen before Pittsburgh’s summer festival season, the Trust plans to tell the Pittsburgh Planning Commission at its Jan. 9 meeting.

“By mid-2018, the Cultural Trust would seek a developer to start a residential high-rise on the site,” the Trust says in its presentation. The vacant Duff’s Business Institute building has impeded the Trust’s plan to redevelop the area with as many as 800 to 900 housing units centered around the Eighth Street block.

The demolition project will cost an estimated $1.2 million, the Trust says. A $516,660 state grant and  $774,990 state loan, announced in November by state Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Brookline), will help pay for the work.

The Trust wants to minimize disruption to Penn Avenue once the Cultural District’s festival season begins. The parking garage shown is slated for demolition.
The Trust wants to minimize disruption to Penn Avenue once the Cultural District’s festival season begins. The parking garage shown is slated for demolition.

The Trust hopes to receive a demolition permit in February and to start the work in early March so that it can be completed by May 15. That would minimize disruption to Penn Avenue during the Cultural District’s festival season, it says. The Rachel Carson (9th Street) Bridge is scheduled to be closed and the Parking Authority will demolish the existing 9th and Penn Garage.

“The best strategy is to partner with the (authority) to create a parking solution that is superior to their current garage,” the Trust says. “Upon demolition, the Trust will offer the property as staging for the upcoming 9th and Penn Garage replacement project (and) potentially activate the site with temporary public art pieces.”

The Parking Authority, meanwhile, working with the Davis Companies of Boston, has proposed building 185 condominiums at Ninth and Penn, along with its new 935-space garage.

In a separate presentation scheduled before city planners, the Parking Authority will detail its proposed $6 million renovation to a city garage at 126 Sixth Street. The work involves repairing the Fort Duquesne and Sixth Public Parking Garage, including replacement of its façade.

The seven-story garage has 925 spaces and six spaces for bicycle parking. During the work, accessible car spaces will increase by eight. When a new façade is constructed, crews will add a protective coating system and upgrade lighting to LED technology with digital controls, the authority says.

The Planning Commission also will hear a revised proposal by Laurel Communities for its plan to build 46 townhomes at Waterfront Place in the Strip District, on an existing parking lot behind the Produce Terminal. The project includes utility work, driveways, walks, small retaining walls, a privacy fence, lighting and landscaping.

Sandra Tolliver

Sandra Tolliver is a freelance writer, editor and public relations professional in Upper St. Clair.