Image courtesy of the URA.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) is asking developers and community members to submit plans for the revitalization of sites along the Centre Avenue corridor in the Middle Hill. These sites include a combination of 170 URA and city-owned parcels, 161 of which are currently vacant lots.

The goal: to begin implementing the community-led vision laid out in the 2015 Centre Avenue Corridor Redevelopment and Design Plan and the 2011 Greater Hill District Master Plan. These documents focus on a range of related priorities including revitalizing Centre Avenue as the neighborhood’s primary retail, institutional and cultural hub and building on the community’s African American cultural legacy.

Also a priority: Creating new housing for families without the displacement of current residents that often happens when neighborhoods are redeveloped.

“The redevelopment of the Centre Ave. business corridor is occurring at an exciting time,” City Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle said in an announcement about the URA’s public Request for Qualifications. “It will become the linchpin between new housing in the area and the upcoming redevelopment of the Lower Hill. Given the planning to date, we have the rare opportunity to intentionally rebuild the corridor in the image and vision established by Hill District residents.”

The RFQ, issued yesterday, seeks redevelopments that include ground-floor commercial space with compatible multi-story residential, office, and/or flexible space. Developers have until Oct. 22 to respond.

For those needing assistance as they prepare submissions, two funds are available. The Equitable Empowerment Fund (part of a URA and Neighborhood Allies partnership) offers technical assistance and small grants of up to $5,000 to help with preparing RFQ responses. And the Neighborhood Initiatives Fund offers competitive grants to nonprofits to help implement their projects.

The URA expects to hold additional sessions to help community members to connect and potentially partner with firms that have Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) certification and offer relevant services as they prepare their proposals.

“With the support of the URA and Neighborhood Allies, we have an opportunity to ensure minority and women-owned business take the lead in redeveloping the corridor,” Lavelle said. “We will also have the opportunity to marry smaller MWBE firms with larger developers to help them scale up.”

Melissa Rayworth

Kidsburgh Editor Melissa Rayworth specializes in stories about culture, gender, design and parenting. She has written for a variety of outlets in the U.S. and Asia, and is a frequent contributor to The Associated Press. Find a selection of her work at