BikePGH!

Slightly off-topic but that would affect Traffic/Cyclists on Penn Ave & Negley

This topic contains 100 replies, has 24 voices, and was last updated by  rgrasmus 1 mo, 3 weeks.

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 101 total)
 
Author Posts
Author Posts

bikeygirl

Private Message

May 21 2014 at 11:00am #

FRIENDS WHO LIVE IN FRIENDSHIP, GARFIELD, EAST LIBERTY, SHADYSIDE, BLOOMFIELD, HIGHLAND PARK; AND/OR THOSE WHO ENJOY THE ARTS AND LIVELY PENN AVE CORRIDOR COMMUNITY -PLEASE READ THIS!!!

I was informed that a developer is trying to built an “Autozone” in the old Babyland Site (intersection of Penn Ave and Negley). The Community Groups in the area (Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation among them), are opposing this being developed there, and are asking for variances that would stop this from happening that would further deteriorate the value of our business district’s most important gateway.

As the people who live, eat, shop, walk, bike commute and enjoy this corridor, I am contacting you because you are stakeholders nearby and have a vested interest in that corner being more pedestrian friendly, and welcoming. The ZBA hearing is June 5 at 9:20am Downtown, and the community groups are looking for people to attend and have their voice heard.

Please contact me if you are interested in showing up to the zoning hearing so I can direct you to who’s organizing these efforts -they can certainly use all the community support we can get. Please pass this information along to other residents and stakeholders who you think would oppose such a use for the site.

Per notice made, they are planning to actually demolish the Babyland AND the (2) buildings next to it after its parking, which means they would take most of the entire block and will only leave the Dance Alloy Theater…. this is awful!!!!

The community can stop this if they speak up about it & their concerns!!!

Please attend the Hearing on June 5, 2014 – 9:20am 200 Ross Street – Downtown Pittsburgh!!


chemicaldave

Private Message

May 21 2014 at 1:25pm #

There’s already an Autozone not far into Wilkinsburg on Penn. What exactly is their reason for building one not 3 miles away?


bikeygirl

Private Message

May 21 2014 at 2:17pm #

For what I heard they will close that one after they open this one… however I would say that they should keep the other one open and not bother with this location!


chemicaldave

Private Message

May 21 2014 at 2:39pm #

I guess the fierce competition in the auto-parts market has forced them to move closer to the Advanced Auto Parts nearby.


WillB

Private Message

May 21 2014 at 3:31pm #

Can you explain what the problem with the AutoZone is? Is just an issue of aesthetics? Do they tend to cause other kinds of problems?


rgrasmus

Private Message

May 21 2014 at 3:48pm #

I think aesthetics is a big issue – a lot of their buildings are drab gray painted cinder block buildings with few if any windows along with their generic 90s video game-inspired logo. Additionally, their clientele must also be terrible at driving as all of their stores have concrete pillars to prevent people from crashing into the stores themselves.


Pierce

Private Message

May 21 2014 at 5:12pm #

You could ask AutoZone to make a more aesthetically pleasing building. The intersection of Negley and Penn is busy as fuck. I don’t see that being a great place for eating or walking anytime soon.

Also, are the people who live on Penn Ave and surrounding areas ditching their cars? What I’m saying is, if they’re driving, which they are, why not have a car place close by? How many people are walking or riding their bike to the glass lofts? If not there, it’s going to be in another neighborhood. Might as well have a car place at a busy car intersection


Ahlir

Private Message

May 21 2014 at 7:38pm #

Penn & Negley is a horrid, car-centric intersection. It is completely out of character for that neighborhood; it’s simply a tentacle of the urban renewal blight that strangled East Liberty.

I mostly go through there along Negley or Penn->Negley from the west. Neither is pleasant on a bike. A parking lot + box on the corner will not improve it (btw, what are they building on the NW corner? I forget.)

A better auto lot would be that abandoned gas station up on Negley. I’d bet it’s cheaper to buy. And zoned to suit.

Apart from the former/future something or other on the opposite side, everything there is either residential or walk-in businesses. An auto business will degrade the quality of life.

And while I’m at it, the double lanes of Penn to the Circle simply encourage dangerous driving and speeding. The right-hand lane should be converted into a dedicated bicycle lane (and stretched up the hill, since the road was widened up to there).


rgrasmus

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 6:52am #

@pierce re: I don’t see that being a great place for eating or walking anytime soon. & How many people are walking or riding their bike to the glass lofts?

There already are a couple of restaurants there which I like to walk to (Salt of the Earth & Verde). I wouldn’t mind another rather than an Autozone. Additionally, trying to cross Penn to get to these places from Friendship is not the most pleasant experience. I’d rather not lose hope for this section of Penn and hand it over to Motordom.


edmonds59

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 7:17am #

IMO, not so much the store itself, but the idea of adding any significant amount of surface parking to that neighborhood, which is just now recovering from that malignancy, is complete bullshit and should not be permitted.
The next thing to go up would be signs saying “Parking for Autozone customers only”, which would be the ultimate kick in the neighborballs.


StuInMcCandless

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 7:38am #

Y’see, what we do is, demand that they install a bike corral outside the place. Idea being, if your car is busted, you’re going to want to get there on a bike, not another car.

I like to giggle every time I go down Steubenville Pike between Campbells Run Rd and Beaver Grade, and see that bus stop in front of the Dodge dealership. That bus stop is there because I requested it be put there when my house was there. The house is gone, replaced by the dealership, but the bus stop remained.

Karma.


chemicaldave

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 10:50am #

Also, are the people who live on Penn Ave and surrounding areas ditching their cars? What I’m saying is, if they’re driving, which they are, why not have a car place close by? How many people are walking or riding their bike to the glass lofts? If not there, it’s going to be in another neighborhood. Might as well have a car place at a busy car intersection

There are two car places within a half mile of that intersection. Advanced Auto Parts on Stanton and Highland and Broadway Parts by Broad and Centre. Are there really no places in the already-developed section of East Lib? Do they really need to knock down buildings to build parking right next to a neighborhood?


jonawebb

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 10:59am #

I’d just like to point out that nothing else on that particular block is residential. Across the street is a muffler/brake shop. The next block has a beer distributor. It’s a mixed residential / commercial area. It’s not a quiet residential area.
Maybe the developer could tone down the development, make it more compatible with the neighborhood?


Pierce

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 12:46pm #

So AutoZone just sells parts for cars and people around that area drive cars and I’m assuming like buying parts for their cars. What’s the problem?

What percentage of people are walking or cycling versus driving to the other locations on the block? Like the dance theater or the lofts, etc, etc.

I’m going to guess why the BGC gives a shit. Having an AutoZone doesn’t raise property values around it. All the BGC cares about is buying properties for cheap and then sitting on rising property values. It’s probably annoyed it doesn’t have the cash to buy these lots.

I’m going to take another guess too. The kind of people who shop at AutoZone aren’t the kind of people the BGC wants in the neighborhood. I.E. people who make less than 60k a year or something. People who don’t take their cars to dealerships or who actually have to fix their cars because they have older cars that need fixing. I.E. a lot of people who live in the surrounding areas. People who don’t eat at Verde or NaCL or whatever.

And also, if having two auto places nearby is a reason not to have another one, wouldn’t the same be true for another restaurant? The only difference is, one thing you’re interested in buying and another you’re not. But that’s not enough justification to try and block a business. If that we’re the case, 90% of businesses I would be telling people to fight over


bikeygirl

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 1:06pm #

That’s partially wrong, Jonawebb…

That block where the Autozone would be is only technically “half” a block divided by an alley way. After that alley way is all residential.

Also, the Dance Alloy Theater Building (on that block) is actually a multi-purpose space that also houses 2 small businesses and has tenant appartments. Plus, the theater is used for not only theater/shows, but as a meeting space for community groups, children and senior yoga classes, etc….. so it is rather more of a Community center than a commercial place

As someone who lives in that area, I can testify that it is a very neighborhood/residential place during the day, with more commercial-pedestrian traffic in the evening for the restaurants and such.

In the mornings in that intersection I see constant people waiting for the bus (there are 6-7 buses that go through there and are heavily occupied); there are kids waiting for school buses in both sides of the street, there are tons of cyclists commuting coming from Highland Park, cars, etc…..

To have this in that location (or similar), makes me wanna puke.

This is what a typical Autozone looks like:

What we need there is a different type of commercial space -or mix use, that actually has more space for pedestrians, greenery, a bus shelter, etc….

I really feel that having this development to be allowed there, will diminish all the hard work that the communities along that corridor have made to make it more vibrant and safe for everyone


bikeygirl

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 1:14pm #

PS:

Ultimately,
If people don’t think this is a major issue -that’s fine, to each its own. I will not waste my time at the moment trying to debate (for example); Pierce’s comments ( I could debate each and everyone).

Personally, both as a neighbor in that community who has seen it grow, and as a professional (architect) who has studied urban design, community development, and how zoning and certain type of developments can make/break a community; do not see any value for the Autozone to be built there.

If interested in this issue, don’t hesitate to contact me.


jonawebb

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 2:52pm #

@bg, that makes sense. I still think, though, that if the real objection is aesthetics, the developer might be prevailed upon to improve them somewhat. And you might be in a good position to make that happen.


Pierce

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 3:29pm #

So if AutoZone had lofts on top of it, and some green space in front of it, would that be cool?

I still think a double standard is being applied here. Look at Whole Foods on Center Ave and that entire development. That has a huge parking space and nobody is batting an eye. Look at Target. It’s not not mixed use and nobody is batting an eye.

If Whole Foods wanted to setup shop on that corner, how much opposition would there be? Also note that the previously mentioned Salt of the Earth isn’t mixed use either. It’s just a business. So again, why the double standard?

I think it is a major issue, when low/moderate income people in that area are being slowly displaced and the things they might have used are being replaced with expensive crap they won’t. I could see that community buying an oil filter. I don’t see them eating at another Salt of the Earth.


jonawebb

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 3:50pm #

To be fair Target and Whole Foods aren’t right next door to the kind of housing that’s the other side of Hugus Place. Target’s got some apartments nearby but that’s not the same thing. Whole Foods is surrounded by commercial development.
OTOH I kind of agree. AutoZone would serve lower income folks better than NaCl or the Dance Alloy would.
I still think that if, say, AutoZone was planning a smaller-sized, more urban shop that didn’t require a big empty parking lot and which would fit in better with the neighborhood everybody could end up happy.


Pierce

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 4:08pm #

You’re right. Behind Target (and separated by another four lane road) is what I’m assuming is lower income condominium housing and whatever that new housing stock is. Not huge old houses that are worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars a piece. And there used to be low income high rises where Whole Foods and Target now sit.

How many people from Hugus Place do you think shop at Target? So having that kind of development is cool when its down the street, but not when its next door to my expensive property. (FWIW, people may have had concerns about Target too, I don’t know.)

I also agree that AutoZone could be spruced up to do partially what these people want, even though they’re demanding more of them than they do of other businesses in the area.


rice rocket

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 4:16pm #

I still think that if, say, AutoZone was planning a smaller-sized, more urban shop that didn’t require a big empty party lot and which would fit in better with the neighborhood everybody could end up happy.

The nature of their business requires a large(r) parking lot. People go there to get advice, run diagnostics, and the employees will even install simple parts for their customers. It’s not a full service garage like some Pep Boys locations, but it also isn’t as in-n-out as a regular retail store.

I don’t really have an opinion as to whether that corner is appropriate for an Autozone, but they seem to be the most helpful to consumers out of the three in the area (Autozone, Advance Auto, Pep Boys).


bikeygirl

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 4:43pm #

Pierce,
In order of importance to me; my main concern is traffic & green space/sidewalks, second is use of property, and third is aesthetics.

Traffic: For the kind of size of bldg, parking, and access that Autozone would require to make its store viable & profitable, it would mean maximizing every inch of that lot, that would thus increase congestion of traffic affecting all the different users that cross that intersection daily (cars, bikes, pedestrian, etc).

Whole Foods happened 10+ years ago in an area that was desolate with no stores or access, so your argument is null. You can’t compare that apple with this orange. Same with Target store…. that zone is decidedly commercial, while the Penn/Negley and surrounding area is mostly residential and mix-use small business.

Use: There are plenty of other businesses that could be there -I think that even a different big-box commercial would be fine, like a CVS or similar, although I think something more smaller-mix commercial use would work better. Or heck, if it was me, I would love a dinner in there.

Now, are you really saying that putting an “autozone” is going to improve the standard of living and well being of the community in that corner? Specially for people in more modest incomes? I don’t buy that. –I bet you they would rather have a safer intersection where to wait with their children for the school bus, or a nice bus shelter where to wait for the PAT bus to go to work/home, or less traffic where they can feel safer crossing the street, than an asphalt parking lot and a store where you buy oil for their car.

Plus, really… “Autozone” does not care about the community, I bet you that -they want profits and they will take them from whoever.

There is already an “Autoparts” down on East Liberty Blvd -about a mile from this location. Why do we need another similar-type here?

Aesthetics: I do-care of aesthetics, and a gray box with garish signage is not my cup of tea (unless it was done in a cool-retro look that I doubt this would be the case). However, in this situation it is the least of my worries -really. If as you said, Autozone provided minimal parking, green space, and aesthetic that looked like a “small” store to the same scale of the area, I would ok with it.

However, once again & bottom-down: Personally, both as a neighbor in that community who has seen it grow, and as a professional (architect) who has studied urban design, community development, and how zoning and certain type of developments can make/break a community; do not see any value for the Autozone to be built there.


Pierce

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 4:47pm #

(was typing at same time as bikeygirl, so it doesn’t speak to her points)

” People go there to get advice, run diagnostics, and the employees will even install simple parts for their customers.”

This may make some people puke too, but it sounds like the car version of Kraynicks. And his building isn’t mixed use either, and a decent amount of people drive there.

Random sampling of commercials: (Couldn’t quite find one with the nice jingle.)

What people might be afraid of?

Nice anti-bike one, ironically:

(Unfailing snark removed) Watching AutoZone commercials (not that commercials are great unbiased sources of information), they fit RiceRocket’s narrative. They also remind me of a car focused version of Ace Hardware


bikeygirl

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 5:02pm #

I like Kranicks, and I’m not against do-it-yourself ((I’ve gone to the Autoparts before to get stuff for my car)). I just firmly belief this is the wrong location for it -plan and simple. I really don’t like the idea of the congestion it could create.


edmonds59

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 5:05pm #

As I said before, a big dead parking lot would be my main objection at this location. As BG said, the whole urban environment was different when Whole foods was built. And both WF and Target have constructed very expensive multi-level parking garages to handle their automobile traffic rather than sprawl out onto large surface lots, so, apples and oranges. And unfortunately, as someone said, a parking lot is inherently necessary to this particular business.
A huge issue that Bikey did not mention is the fact that a huge gray box without windows on 80%+- of the street face means no eyes on the street. Windows in urban situations equate to a feeling of being observed, and that equates to residents feeling safe, and evildoers feeling much less confident doing their evil. This is an urban planning fact. This is way beyond simple aesthetics or just NIMBY, this is a public safety issue. A dead, unenlivened city corner is a dangerous corner that invites bad shit.
Add to that the lack of after-hours business “traffic” to an Autozone type store and again, unlike what restaurants and housing generate, you’re creating a dead, uninhabited corner. All of the above applies similarly.
Pierce, while it is applicable in many situations, I think your “gentriphobia” is misplaced in this particular situation.


StuInMcCandless

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 5:35pm #

Short version: This isn’t Monroeville, and doesn’t deserve a cookie cutter copy of a Monroeville store.

I’m not sure putting their big whopping parking lot behind the store will do anyone any favors, either. Like someone said at the top, they already have a store a mile away; they’re just moving the business. So look at the mirror of this “new” store: They are creating a vacuum for the “old” store, making that business district deader than it already is.

Sadly, I think this is a symptom of a deeper problem, two really. One, the revival of East Liberty after 30-maybe-40 years of decline. Two, the continued decline of Wilkinsburg which started at about the same time, roughly corresponding to the collapse of Big Steel and the fuel shortages in the 1970s and 1980s.

We can wring our hands over Penn and Negley, or we can figure out how to bring business back to Wilkinsburg.


jonawebb

Private Message

May 22 2014 at 7:21pm #

Wilkinsburg is gradually coming back, BTW. I’ve been riding through there on a daily basis for years now, and I’ve seen a change. It’s still got a long way to go, though.


Swalfoort

Private Message

May 23 2014 at 9:09am #

I understand Lucia’s concerns. I appreciate what she is trying to do.

I don’t think that AutoZone will be discouraged from this location.

So, what can be done to ENCOURAGE compatibility?

Target put the parking under the store, so the face of the building was on the street, not miles of empty parking area. Can AZ be encouraged to put parking BEHIND the building? Can they increase the glass to cement ratio in the facade?

I’ve walked and biked past BabyLand when I lived in Bloomfield. It was almost always closed when I went by. Cement structure, dark glass, eh, not all that attractive either.

I’d suggest working with BGC and the City on facade treatments and parking design, rather than elimination of the proposed use.


StuInMcCandless

Private Message

May 23 2014 at 9:49am #

If somehow AZ can be encouraged to add second and third floors (or more) for office space, that would go far toward making it less obtrusive.

Real low hanging fruit, and I’m serious this time, put a parking corral in, either right in front, or dedicate a couple of parking spaces to that purpose.


bikeygirl

Private Message

May 23 2014 at 12:28pm #

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152491427678689.1073741833.568243688&type=1&l=cf706c93b4


edmonds59

Private Message

May 23 2014 at 12:33pm #

“If somehow AZ can be encouraged to add second and third floors (or more) for office space, that would go far toward making it less obtrusive.”
It’s enormously ironic that some of the interesting old last-century urban automobile dealership buildings, right in the general area, with showrooms on the first floor, big windows on the sidewalk face, automobile access into the building, ready made multi-level parking, are now, uh, lofts.


rgrasmus

Private Message

May 23 2014 at 12:47pm #

Or an affordable grocery store a few blocks down the street from this location


bikeygirl

Private Message

May 23 2014 at 1:11pm #

Sara -thank you for your input!
As I mentioned before, my interest so far has been to bring awareness of the situation. I know that the Team of the BGC and FDC (Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation and the Friendship Development Corporation), and well as ELDI (The East Liberty Group), are preparing a response/action to the issue.


JaySherman5000

Private Message

May 23 2014 at 1:29pm #

“There’s already an Autozone not far into Wilkinsburg on Penn. What exactly is their reason for building one not 3 miles away? ”

“For what I heard they will close that one after they open this one… however I would say that they should keep the other one open and not bother with this location! “

As a Wilkinsburg resident, I wholeheartedly support moving that Autozone into someone else’s backyard. GET IN THE ZONE, ‘SLIBERTY!

I also don’t see any rational reason to oppose a new business moving into the area, especially when that business supports a lot of DIY types. If I owned a car, I would probably use Autozone just as Pierce pointed out, like the car version of Kraynick’s.


Benzo

Private Message

May 23 2014 at 2:27pm #

Or an affordable grocery store a few blocks down the street from this location

Don’t they have an aldi’s on roup and baum about 3-4 blocks away or a bottom dollar (being built) on s. pacific and penn about 4 blocks away.


rgrasmus

Private Message

May 23 2014 at 2:41pm #

@Benzo – Yes, I was referring to the Aldi’s as a counter-example to the above statement of “It’s enormously ironic that some of the interesting old last-century urban automobile dealership buildings, right in the general area, with showrooms on the first floor, big windows on the sidewalk face, automobile access into the building, ready made multi-level parking, are now, uh, lofts.” The Aldi’s used to be a Dodge? dealership, then a brief stint as a Vespa dealership, then a spot where a couple people got mugged (poor lighting/no windows/overgrown bushes where the Aldi’s parking garage entrance now is) , and now an Aldi’s.


Ahlir

Private Message

May 23 2014 at 3:16pm #

A long discussion, but just to reiterate/add:

1) Whole Foods and Target may be big and ugly, but they occupy land next to the rail tracks / busway. Not space we should be using for residential. The area behind Target is actually quite nice and I’m sure the residents shop there. If you want a neighborhood that’s more like what you’re talking about, cross ELB.

2) Negley/Penn is better suited for residential or small business. Penn’s already that to the west. And, again, there’s a vacant automotive business lot just up Negley if you really need the auto parts.

3) For cyclists, the main goal for Penn/Negley should be to significantly reduce accomodation to cars. Penn from Negley to Circle should be one way either way. The fan out on Penn should be eliminated. It will create public space and provide a setback for the mixed-use building that should take the place of the babyland.


salty

Private Message

May 23 2014 at 9:24pm #

If people took their cars inside the autozone to tinker with them instead of doing it in a massive surface parking lot, then the kraynicks analogy might make sense.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

Private Message

May 24 2014 at 8:57am #

A couple of thoughts:

First, municipalities have zoning districts and ordinances which describe what can/can’t be built, how it needs to be built, how many parking spaces per sq. ft, etc.

Next, these ordinances may also specify “conditional uses” of the properties within the zones. A conditional use may be granted by the municipality, and the municipality has the opportunity in these cases to apply conditions to the approval.

I’m not clear from the OP, but if the applicant is requesting a variance, that means their current plan must not satisfy ordinance or they are seeking relief from a condition or conditions established by the municipality.

If this is the case, public input may be effective in helping the zoning hearing board (or whatever it is called in the City) make their determination.


edmonds59

Private Message

May 24 2014 at 10:31am #

“If people took their cars inside the autozone to tinker with them instead of doing it in a massive surface parking lot, then the kraynicks analogy might make sense.”
I actually thought of the ATT store on Penn in the Strip, that cars drive into. That’s a pretty context-sensitive application. Still, not sure it would be right for the location under discussion.

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 101 total)
 

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.