Rendering by Klavon Design Associates. Courtesy of the City Planning Commission.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is teaming up with a local design firm to redevelop and reactivate public space in East Liberty’s rapidly growing business district.

Last week, the South Side-based Klavon Design Associates, along with URA architect Joseph German, unveiled their proposal for the Broad Street Plaza in a presentation before the City Planning Commission. Their plan? A $1.6 million project aimed at modernizing the public park at the corner of North Highland Avenue and Broad Street.

Located across the street from Hotel Indigo, the 13,612-square-foot plaza was originally designed to serve as a rest area for East Liberty’s ill-fated and long-gone pedestrian mall.

“With most of the pedestrian mall removed, Broad Street Plaza lacks the broader context that its original design depended on,” reads the proposal. In addition to being rarely used and in a state of disrepair, “the current layout of the plaza, with multi-tiered planting boxes and a large, blocked-off asphalt parking area, feels fragmented.”

Project leads from Klavon and the URA based their proposal on input from a series of community meetings that took place around East Liberty from August through November of last year.

The redesign, modeled after Downtown’s Market Square, another Klavon project, will emphasize wide pathways and clear sight lines to give the plaza an open, continuous feel. The sidewalk will be extended to create space for local food trucks and cafe seating for the nearby Kirkland Shops.

In addition, the new plaza will have enough open space and artful lighting to support a variety of public performances and community events.

Other notable Klavon Design projects in the city include University of Pittsburgh’s Heinz Chapel Garden and the Energy Innovation Center in the Hill District.

The Planning Commission will vote on the project at next week’s meeting. If approved, project leads will hold an open bid for contractors in August, with an eye toward beginning construction in early spring of 2020.

“The new plaza,” reads the proposal, “will be more inviting for the Kirkland building shops, Hotel Indigo and for the community at large.”

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.