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

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Pierce

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May 24 2014 at 10:40pm #

If you’re going to build a new building, it makes sense to put it on a lot that’s going to get the most exposure. That’s Negley and Penn. Further up on Negley gets traffic, but not nearly as much as that intersection

Trying to make Penn Ave more pedestrian/cyclist friendly is a noble endeavour, but one that AutoZone isn’t really going to effect one way or the other, as far as I can tell. I mean the entire stretch would have to be redone to make it useful. Short term, maybe it could be turned into something like a Liberty Ave through Bloomfield?

Looking at the map, I just had an idea. What if both Friendship and Penn were opposite one way streets from Euclid to the hospital? Then you’d have a lot more space for cyclists and pedestrians and the streets would be easier to cross in both sections. Like Penn Ave is a PITA to cross by Spaks because a) people never yield to peds and b) there’s a lot of traffic. But now that the road is being worked on, it’s easy (also random note, there’s a bicycle sign that says cyclists may take the full lane at Penn and Winebiddle)


Steven

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May 25 2014 at 12:09am #

“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.”

What if Kraynick’s added a workshop on a covered patio, so you could work on your bike outside? Would the analogy make sense then? It’s not really clear to me why inside versus outside is important for this issue.


StuInMcCandless

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May 25 2014 at 6:00am #

My objection is architectural. New commercial construction for suburban settings are not designed to last, and they don’t. Either they’re bulldozed for something newer, or they simply fall apart, after only 20 to 30 years. So, say they go through with this AZ, and it does OK for 10 maybe 15 years, but by 20 years out, it’s down the tubes, and we end up with a building that’s not all that old, not in all that great a shape, but specific to a single use and thus difficult to adapt to anything else. It gets a “for lease” sign on it that stays there forever.

Is that OK? Are we just setting ourselves up for the next round of slums in 2040?


edmonds59

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May 25 2014 at 6:13am #

Steven – it’s not so much inside vs. outside as it is dead asphalt parking lot vs. a true urban building form that uses the lot effectively and activates the sidewalk.
Man, if Kraynicks had an outdoor patio for bike tinkering that would be bloody awesome.
Also, what Stu said^, 100%.


Italianblend

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May 25 2014 at 8:24am #

I really don’t think the bike community should be telling businesses where they can and can’t put down.


salty

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May 25 2014 at 10:56am #

Whether or not you’re part of the all powerful bike lobby, you’re certainly allowed to have an opinion about it. Knocking down 2 buildings and replacing them with parking lots is a negative regardless of why it is being done. Take a walk along what used to be the northwest quadrant of Penn Circle if you’d like some graphic evidence.

The fact it is an auto-centric business is an additional reason not to like it, but the effect on the streetscape is the main one. If they built an 8 story mixed use building with an underground garage, with an auto parts store on the first floor, I wouldn’t have a big problem with that. Ugly suburban style single story building with a huge parking lot, I’m completely against that regardless of the context. I’m not a big fan of Target or the Whole Foods strip-mall like development either.


StuInMcCandless

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May 25 2014 at 12:30pm #

Short version: It’s only partly what they’re doing that I object to, rather it’s all that they’re not doing. @salty @edmonds59 and I seem to be singing out of the same hymnal on that.

Case in point: Compare Centre at Aiken (good) with Liberty at Baum a block away (bad). The former is appealing, and you can fairly easily cross the street. The other looks like a tornado went through a year earlier, and no, you cannot cross the street. Well, you can, but it’s scary, unpleasant, unappealing.


jkp1187

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May 26 2014 at 6:09am #

What are the buildings that would be knocked down currently being used for?


Italianblend

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May 26 2014 at 4:00pm #

It didn’t even occur to me that part of the reason some of you don’t like it is because its an auto store. Is that really true?


jkp1187

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May 26 2014 at 4:20pm #

Answered my own question with Google Maps.

So what we’re talking about here is tearing down a disused single-use structure (the former single-story “Babyland” store) and replacing it with a single-use structure? (I note that there is apparently a pre-existing parking lot there.) And this Auto Zone would be across the street from….an existing Monro Muffler & Brake shop with six bays for vehicles?

I’m really not seeing a reason to be concerned here. There’s better battles to fight to make Pittsburgh more bike-friendly.


edmonds59

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May 26 2014 at 4:38pm #

To be honest, this is more of an urban planning issue than a “bike friendliness” issue, but it can’t hurt for the bike community to chime in. As Stu said, Autozone’s mindless cookie cutter suburban model is inappropriate here. IF it’s going to be an auto parts store, AZ needs to be made to do better.


StuInMcCandless

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May 26 2014 at 6:09pm #

Indeed, I have no love for the old Babyland building. I’d like to see a little more sidewalk or at least horizontal space between sidewalk and building, though not necessarily a 40-space lot.

I leave it to the architects and urban planners to have the informed view here. I’m working more from a historical perspective. There is not a single building along Rt 22 in Monroeville that was there in 1982 in its original configuration, and some have been replaced twice.


bikeygirl

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Jun 4 2014 at 2:16pm #

BUMP

Article on the City Paper today:

http://m.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/residents-worry-a-proposed-autozone-on-high-profile-babyland-site-could-jeopardize-neighborhood-rebound/Content?oid=1756076


bikeygirl

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Jun 5 2014 at 11:31am #

BUMP!
Small victory today!

http://www.pghcitypaper.com/Blogh/archives/2014/06/05/zoning-board-grants-continuance-for-friendship-autozone-development


Pierce

Private Message

Jun 5 2014 at 1:13pm #

Letter from these development corps:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9xseBDYwgL0UjJmRTZXT1hJS3M2STF6SVFsdXBnY0RqV0Rj/edit

“By creating a vibrant commercial street that is recognized throughout and beyond the city, we can attract quality tenants who are unwilling to locate here today.”

What does that say to the tenants who live in the area now?

“On the other hand, if you are not interested, we are prepared to do what it takes to stop development that would be detrimental to the community and the future of Penn Avenue.”


Marko82

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Jun 5 2014 at 6:18pm #

I’ve held off jumping into this discussion, but one very important fact is missing from the discussion within this thread – according to the CP article, the developer is requesting several (5) zoning variances for this property. For me, this changes the discussion completely. This means that the developer who bought the property knew that the city and community wanted to restrict the use of this land to certain types of buildings & to certain types of uses. If the proposal is not consistent with the zoning for this parcel the community has every right to fight it. This is why zoning exists.


Ahlir

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Jun 5 2014 at 8:13pm #

Note that a developer (Gumberg) bought the property. Autozone is not the owner, just a prospective buyer/leaser. If citizens and the city decide against the auto-parts store, Gumberg is free to find another (more acceptable) use for the land.

In the meanwhile he’s just pushing to see how much he can get away with (given that he seems to have the Autozone deal in hand). But if he’s smart he’s already started to shopping the property around to other buyers.


edmonds59

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Jun 6 2014 at 5:44am #

I’ve worked on projects where we’ve needed one, maybe 2 reasonable variances for a project to proceed. 5 is ridiculous.
That just screams “inappropriate use”.


rgrasmus

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Jun 6 2014 at 8:53am #

It seems like they may be able to get around some of the variances if they reuse the existing building. But, if AZ is listening, that one may be haunted – by ghost babies. #justsayin


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Jun 8 2014 at 10:14am #

“This is why zoning exists.”

+1


bikeygirl

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Jun 9 2014 at 10:21am #

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/06/09/East-End-retail-plan-draws-opposition-from-community-group/stories/201406090047


Pierce

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Jun 11 2014 at 4:32pm #

To again wonder if the content of the store is a bigger issue than the other issues presented… a Bottom Dollar opened up further down Penn Ave a few weeks? ago. It has a parking lot and I think a cookie cutter design too. Is it that different?


Ahlir

Private Message

Jun 11 2014 at 7:48pm #

Is it that different?

Well, for me as a cyclist I really want that intersection to be less car-centric. I generally go through it out on Negley or down Penn and left on Negley. Both routes are somewhat harrowing due to cars. I want that intersection calmed, seriously. An auto business on the corner is not going to help that. NEITHER Penn or Negley should be perceived (by drivers) as some sort of suburban freeway. But they are.

Bottom Dollar clientele does not, by necessity, come in by car. In the city they can walk, take transit or even bike. Less impact.


jonawebb

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Jun 11 2014 at 8:29pm #

It’s sort of an “entrance to the neighborhood” thing. Which they have a right to want. BTW I was impressed with how the neighborhood association sounds in the news story. Very reasonable, they aren’t opposed to an AutoZone, they just want it to fit the neighborhood. And I didn’t know five variances are a lot. You go, neighborhood association!


Ahlir

Private Message

Jun 11 2014 at 9:02pm #

they just want it to fit the neighborhood
Right. Grumberg should buy that gas station lot down on Negley, or whoever owns it should make a better offer to Autozone. It’s a much better site for the intended use.

The current location could work, but not as some crappy speculator scheme.


bikeygirl

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Jun 12 2014 at 3:01pm #

This document exists that should be used as footprint for future development….

http://www.eastendpartnership.org/pdf/master-plan.pdf


Marko82

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Jun 12 2014 at 3:40pm #

Some interesting old photos of the intersection:

A view of Penn and Negley Avenues safety zone, looking west 1931

5828 Penn Avenue at Negley Avenue, looking east 1931

Horvitz Motor Sales and Service used car lot and a Gulf filling station on W. L. Mellon property at the intersection of Penn Avenue and North Negley Avenue, looking north 1937

The Penn Negley Drug Co. located at the intersection of Negley Avenue and Penn Avenue looking from the northeast corner 1938

Interesction of Negley Avenue and Penn Avenue from the northwest corner looking at the northeast corner 1938


rgrasmus

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Jun 12 2014 at 4:05pm #

Ahh, streetcars… If only it weren’t for Motordom https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_streetcar_conspiracy


bikeygirl

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Jun 13 2014 at 8:17am #

These are fantastic photos!!!!
Where did you get them from Marko?


Jacob McCrea

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Jun 13 2014 at 8:55am #

“[T]he developer is requesting several (5) zoning variances for this property. For me, this changes the discussion completely.”

Yes, it most certainly does, and I’m glad you injected this key fact into the discussion. The opening comment in this thread and the CDCs’ letter to the developer left me with the impression that the Autozone would be within the existing zoning. As noted, the alleged need for five variances “changes the discussion completely.”

As for the old gas station down the street, I don’t disagree that it would be a good location for an Autozone, assuming the lot size is adequate. Bear in mind though, that gas stations are far from ideal candidates for redevelopment due to the potential environmental, legal, and ultimately economic responsibilities that come with taking ownership of a potentially contaminated property. Suffice it to say that a redeveloper could spend a lot of time and money on environmental engineers, environmental lawyers and remediation contractors before being able to break ground on an Autozone, or anything else.


Marko82

Private Message

Jun 13 2014 at 9:53am #

@ bikeygirl, (time-suck warning!) From Historic Pittsburgh web site http://images.library.pitt.edu/pittsburgh/

There are cool maps and other things on the site too.


StuInMcCandless

Private Message

Jun 13 2014 at 10:01am #

I think we’ve seen these photos before, on some thread a couple years back. I recall someone remarking that in that second one, there is a bicycle in the distance going outbound.

Meanwhile, in the current StreetView (taken Oct 2012), that house over the center billboard in the first photo is still visible between the word “Monro” and the traffic light.
[SV link]


danny.yabs

Private Message

Jul 11 2014 at 9:45am #

Did y’all see that the BGC started an Indiegogo campaign? https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/keep-it-neighborhood-help-babyland-grow-into-something-better#home


rgrasmus

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Jul 11 2014 at 10:14am #

I guess I was wrong about the abandoned Dodge dealership being safer now that it has been converted into an Aldi’s. Very sad/frightening news: http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/07/11/suspect-sought-in-friendship-sexual-assault/


rsprake

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Jul 11 2014 at 2:13pm #

I am surprised there is even an argument here. Just head down Penn Ave to Wilkinsburg where there is parking lot after parking lot serving car scale establishments. The street sucks. Autozone is not a good fit for the neighborhood.


Pierce

Private Message

Jul 11 2014 at 2:33pm #

BGC is great if you’re into gentrifying a neighborhood and demonizing the residents who already live there. I’ve seen horrible wastes of resources they’ve had their hands in and their CEO or whatever Rick Swartz? has a six figure salary.

They’re already spinning what happened. The developer DID meet with them. The BGC or Friendshipwhatever then issued a letter threatening them. If the shoe were on the other foot, they’d be crying murder. One stupid corporation fighting a developer. Also stupid to say they then “got a lawyer.” You don’t buy property for development WITHOUT a lawyer. They already had a lawyer.

I’m glad for whichever elected official already weighted in and was essentially like “You can’t bully developers into doing what you want. Property owners have rights too.”


rsprake

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Jul 11 2014 at 3:56pm #

Who’s bullying who? They are trying to convert the space into something it’s not currently zoned to be. The Bottom Dollar (having not seen it in person) was built on a property that already had a parking lot, and already had a store.


jkp1187

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Jul 12 2014 at 6:49am #

@rsprake: Have you actually seen the site in question? There is currently a parking lot either immediately adjacent to, or on the former Babyland premises (I’m not sure where the lines are divided, but there was a sign indicating that the lot was to be used by Babyland patrons,) and a Midas Muffler & Brake shop with six bays and a large parking lot right across the street. Adjacent to the Midas is the restaurant NACL, which also has a parking lot. Frankly, an auto parts store fits the aesthetic of that block quite nicely.

If you’d like to buy the property and do something else with it, more power to you.


rsprake

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Jul 13 2014 at 2:38pm #

I am familiar with it. It’s ugly. Why not demand something better?


jkp1187

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Jul 13 2014 at 3:39pm #

“Better” is in the eye of the beholder. For the people who will work in the store, “better” will involve something that employs them. For the people who bought the property, “better” will involve something that allows them to recoup their initial investment.

If this is so important to you, why don’t you offer to purchase it?

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