When Bakery Square was developed by Walnut Capital from an abandoned Nabisco factory into a hub for companies like Google, UPMC Enterprises and Philips, it was a big deal for Pittsburgh at large.
One flaw was immediately obvious, though. The entire site — particularly the retail and restaurant component — faces toward Shadyside, presenting giant blank walls of parking garages and the backs of buildings to the rest of Larimer, its host neighborhood.
Now, a new development is planned to help rectify this flaw: a “living street” called the Larimer-Homewood Multimodal Greenway Extension. It’s a 1.5-mile road that once served the Pennsylvania Railroad, currently known as Dahlem Place.
The redesigned road will be lined with rain gardens and a meadow landscaped with native plants. It will feature an eight-foot protected two-way bicycle lane and six-foot pedestrian sidewalk.
“This isn’t just any road” says County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “This road will be a bridge that connects communities with assets that improve residents’ quality of life. This project represents the kind of positive movement that can take place when the public and private sectors work together alongside community goals to help transform neighborhoods.”
The $4 million project will make a major connection between a long-neglected neighborhood and the jobs and amenities that have become abundant on the other side of Bakery Square.
“Cyclists and pedestrians that live in underserved neighborhoods deserve safer, more equitable access to the East End’s commercial corridors,” says Mayor Bill Peduto. “This public-private partnership transforms a listless, unused driveway into a beautified community amenity. Residents gain a safe, inviting and eco-friendly pathway to one of the city’s top economic destinations.”
The project is funded by Bakery Square’s participation in the East Liberty TRID Phase II program and a multi-modal transportation grant from the state. The project was designed with input from the city’s Bike(+) Plan, Larimer Vision Plan, Larimer/East Liberty Choice Neighborhood Plan and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
The hope is that the project will help reduce traffic along the continually congested Penn Avenue corridor, and augment other connectivity projects, like a 30-foot pedestrian and bike bridge over the busway and railroad tracks connecting Hamilton Avenue to Bakery Square and Penn Avenue.
“Right now, there’s no safe way for children and families to walk to Bakery Square or Mellon Park and that needs to change,” says Gregg Perelman, co-founding CEO of Walnut Capital. “This project represents the first major infrastructure investment to help revitalize Larimer north of the railroad tracks and is a top community priority.”