The bustling corridor of Centre Avenue passes through several city neighborhoods, each with a distinctive look and social amenities in keeping with its community, with the exception of the Hill District.

But all that is about to change. The Hill Community Development Corp. is working with two organizations that will assist local residents and stakeholders in envisioning the future of their part of the corridor, which passes from downtown and the Lower Hill through the Hill District to Oakland, Shadyside and East Liberty.

The Design Center awarded the Hill CDC a Design Fund grant of $50,000. The funding will provide for the hiring of a design consultant who will work with the community and guide redevelopment of the corridor from Centre Avenue at Crawford Street to Reed Street.

A second collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University’s UDream program will tap the creative energy of architectural students who will assist the community in envisioning the future of Centre Avenue from Soho Street to Herron Avenue.

The strategy is to create a roadmap for the community as it moves forward block-by-block to execute the Hill District community’s master plan, which was completed three years ago.

“We will be working with the community on the Hill on a streetscape and design so people will know they are in a destination,” says Chris Koch, CEO of the Design Center.

“(The process) will inform not only the business owners and the community but nonprofit partners in helping them understand what their options are through a design process.”

This is a huge step in making the vision of the community and the master plan a reality, says Marimba Milliones, president & CEO of the Hill CDC.

“This plan is one that envisions a comprehensive and holistic strategy to implement development along the corridor while articulating a place and destination,” says Milliones.

Several projects along the corridor have already been completed or are underway, including the Shop ‘n Save grocery store, YMCA, Carnegie Library branch and the New Granada Theater, a $1.2 million restoration of the art deco structure made possible by the Heinz Endowments and Allegheny County.

The New Granada Square will include 50 housing units and retail, commercial and cultural space.

Deb Smit

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared in Fast Company, Ozy and Pittsburgh Magazine.