June 20, 2018
Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation are pleased that 44th and Summit Development LLC has voluntarily withdrawn the demolition permit application for the Holy Family church, filed on May 29, 2018. Completed in 1940 to serve the growing Polish immigrant population in the Lawrenceville area, the church is a contributing building to Lawrenceville’s current nomination to the National Registry of Historic Places and one of the neighborhood’s most iconic buildings.
Lawrenceville United’s (LU) mission is to improve and protect the quality of life for all Lawrenceville residents. Lawrenceville Corporation (LC) serves as the catalyst and conduit for responsible growth and reinvestment in the Lawrenceville community. Together, LU and LC steward development in the neighborhood, ensuring that individual projects comport with neighborhood plans and values, and contribute to the authenticity of the neighborhood. As a part of this effort, our organizations created a community process that provides a forum where new development projects can be discussed, vetted, and measured against community plans and priorities.
Several years ago, LU and LC worked with the property owners on a robust community process for their proposed redevelopment of the former Holy Family Church and School for residential housing. This community process included large community meetings as well as smaller focus-group sessions with residents from different impact areas. Hundreds of residents participated in the process. In response to articulated concerns, the owners revised their plans to reduce the overall unit count while increasing the parking. Notably, the adaptive re-use of the historic church structure was central to the plans. LU and LC publicly supported these revised plans. Documents from this community process are available on LU’s website at www.LUnited.org.
Our organizations were hit unexpectedly with the recent demolition permit application without advance notice, and we viewed the proposed demolition as a serious deviation from the agreements and commitments made by the property owner. In response, the LC and LU co-submitted a nomination to the City’s Historic Review Commission for historic listing of the Holy Family Church. Prepared by Preservation Pittsburgh with support from the Lawrenceville Historic Society, the nomination ensures that—for the near term—any and all proposed exterior alterations of the church must be reviewed and approved by the Historic Review Commission before they take place.
44th and Summit Development LLC withdrew their demolition application on Friday, June 16th and released a statement indicating that they are committed to working with the community to formulate a new path forward. LU and LC appreciate this orientation and remain fully supportive of responsible redevelopment on the property that aligns with community priorities. The continued dilapidation of a vacant and blighted 1.5-acre site in the heart of Central Lawrenceville is not beneficial to neighbors or the community at-large. We look forward to working in good faith and in earnest with 44th and Summit Development and other partners on a community-supported plan for redevelopment of the site that includes the preservation of the sanctuary.
We thank Mayor William Peduto, Councilwoman Deb Gross, Preservation Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville Historical Society, and Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation for their support in preserving this historic church.
Lawrenceville has seen a recent uptick in burglaries of both residences and businesses from April 2018 to present, particularly concentrated in Lower Lawrenceville and along Butler Street.
Police seeking help identifying suspects
Camera footage of suspects has been collected (see below) and residents are encouraged to call 911 with any information on the identity of these suspects, or if residents see these individuals.
Photo 1: Suspect from Industry burglary, picture shared by Zone 2 Police.
Video 1: Camera footage of individual seen taking (and later returning) item from private property on 4/29/2017, the same night as a number of burglaries across Lower Lawrenceville.
Video 2: Camera footage of individual appearing to “case” homes in Lawrencville on 5/23/2018, the same night that various burglaries occurred on this block and across Lower Lawrenceville.
Zone 2 Police encourage all residents to review this document on preventive measures to avoid burglaries and prevent being an “easy target.”
Have a camera? Add your location to our database.
LU shares this database with Zone 2 Police so that they can reach out if seeking footage for a nearby incident. You can voluntarily add your location through this Google Form, calling us at 412-802-7220, or emailing us at info@LUnited.org.
Putting these burglaries in context
While these burglaries are cause for concern and should be taken seriously, crime in Lawrenceville has been on a steep downward trend for years. For instance: between 2010 and 2017, all Part 1 crimes decreased by 41% and burglaries decreased by 68% in Lawrenceville; between 2016 and 2017, Lawrenceville saw a 16% decrease in Part 1 violent crimes, a 7% decrease in Part 1 property crimes, and an 8% decrease in Part 2 crimes; with a total crime rate of 55 per 1,000 residents, Lawrenceville is the safest neighborhood in Zone 2 Police and has a significantly lower rate of total crime per 1,000 residents than the City of Pittsburgh overall.
In the first half of 2018, Lawrenceville United contracted with Just Collaboration to work with our organization on goals related to our Diversity & Inclusion and Equity organizational values. As part of this process, Just Collaboration offered multiple trainings to the staff and Board of Lawrenceville United, and also did an external survey of Lawrenceville residents to understand how welcoming and inclusive the neighborhood is. Thank you to all who participated in this survey.
As the last part of her work with Lawrenceville United, Mary C. Parker of Just Collaboration presented a final report on the results of the contract and the survey to Lawrenceville United members at the Spring 2018 membership meeting. To view this report, please click HERE.
Interested in being part of LU’s ongoing efforts around diversity, inclusion, and equity? Join our Committee or give us feedback by emailing info@LUnited.org or calling us at 412-802-7220.
As Lawrenceville’s housing market has exploded, one of Lawrenceville United’s top priorities for the neighborhood is preserving affordable housing. One tool LU has advocated for is Inclusionary Zoning (IZ). For more information on Inclusionary Zoning, please see the brief on IZ below. To download as a printable document, please click here.
Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) Explained
What is Inclusionary Zoning? The simplest explanation for inclusionary zoning programs is that they either incentivize or mandate developers to include affordable units as part of new housing developments of a certain size. For instance, if a developer were to build a housing project of 250 units, under IZ the developer might be required to sell or rent 15% of those units (37 units) to lower-income residents.
- 886 jurisdictions have inclusionary housing programs across the U.S., reporting over 170,000 units created.
- IZ programs are highly customizable to fit the particular needs of different communities. Some programs are required, some are voluntary. Some focus on creating low-income housing, others focus on more middle-income housing. Other key considerations include what unit size IZ becomes triggered, what percentage of affordable units are required, the duration of affordability, whether it’s applied to rental housing or for sale, and how to offset the cost of creating affordable units to developers so that new housing developments are still feasible.
What are the benefits? Inclusionary zoning is a proven tool for creating new affordable housing at a time when many communities desperately need it and public funding for housing has been declining for decades. By leveraging the private market, IZ is one of the few ways to create new housing for low-income families without significant public subsidy. It can also help prevent or mitigate gentrification and displacement when housing prices and land values increase in a community. Studies have also shown that it is an effective tool for locating affordable housing in higher-income neighborhoods and areas with better performing schools.
- In Montgomery County, MD and Southern CA, half of all affordable housing production is created by IZ.
Why is it needed? In Lawrenceville, over 600 housing units have been created in the past couple years, yet almost none of them have been for the working class families that have been the roots of Lawrenceville for generations. At the same time, the appreciation of housing costs has led to displacement of low-income families. With large parcels still developable, IZ has the potential to harness development in the neighborhood to ensure that housing options are available for all income levels and so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of a neighborhood that residents have worked to make safer and less blighted, with improving schools and better access to transportation and local jobs.
- Over half of Lawrenceville’s Housing Choice Voucher units (120 low-income families) were lost between 2011 and 2016.
- An IZ policy would have created 84 new units of affordable housing with Lawrenceville’s recent development.
What’s being done about IZ locally? In May 2016, the Affordable Housing Task Force identified IZ as one of its key recommendations to address the gap of over 17,000 affordable units in Pittsburgh. Mayor Peduto issued an Executive Order in February 2017 to create an Exploratory Committee that would further assess the feasibility and structure of an IZ program. Specific recommendations were released in November 2017 to City Council and the Mayor, and suggested mandatory inclusion of 10% affordable units city-wide in projects over 20 unit, with a by-right tax abatement offered. Councilwoman Gross sponsored amendments to the zoning text for Urban Industrial in December 2017 that requires 30% affordability in projects over 20 units. LU is currently about to launch a community process in Lawrenceville to pilot IZ that could serve as a model for other neighborhoods or a city-wide policy.
- Affordable Housing Task Force: pittsburghpa.gov/dcp/ahtf/index.html
- Inclusionary Housing website by Grounded Solutions: inclusionaryhousing.org
- Includes detailed explanations, reports, research, resources, and more.
- Inclusionary Calculator: inclusionaryhousing.org/calculator
- Allows you to test the economic feasibility of an IZ policy in various markets.
- Equitable Development: The Path to an All-in Pittsburgh: policylink.org
- Recommendations for an Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Agenda for Pittsburgh (UrbanKind Institute): p4pittsburgh.org
Want to make a difference in your neighborhood? Consider running for an open at-large position on Lawrenceville United’s Board of Directors!
What does the Board do?
The Board governs the organization and is ultimately responsible for LU’s conduct. The Board is responsible for setting LU’s goals in pursuit of its mission to improve and protect quality of life for all Lawrenceville residents, overseeing the Executive Director, monitoring the financial health of the organization, and making key decisions on matters affecting the community. To learn more and get to know our existing Board, please join us at the Board Meet & Greet on Thursday, April 26th from 6-8 p.m. at Hambone’s.
What’s the commitment like?
Board members are expected to serve at least one full term (2 years), attend monthly Board meetings, participate in at least one Board Committee (which usually meet once per month), participate in the annual Board training, and make a personally meaningful donation to the organization.
What are the eligibility requirements?
Our by-laws state that you must have be a Lawrenceville resident and be an LU member in good standing for at least 6 months in order to run for the Board. To run, please fill out this application form and plan to attend the spring membership meeting on the evening of June 5th.
- 4/20 – Board application released
- 4/26 – Board Meet & Greet, 6-8 p.m. at Hambone’s
- 5/10 – Deadline to submit Board application
- 5/22 – Board slate is sent to membership
- 6/5 – Spring membership meeting
- 6/18 – Deadline for LU membership to vote
- 6/22 – New Board orientation & dinner
Lawrenceville United is committed to building a more diverse and inclusive Board of Directors and organization, and we especially encourage residents from underrepresented populations to apply: people of color, renters, parents of young children, immigrants, women, older adults, people with disabilities, and people with low income.
Lawrenceville United has recently contracted with Just Collaboration to help us develop goals and hold us accountable to our values of diversity, inclusion, and equity. Please read our purpose statement for why we’re doing this work here. As the first part of this multi-year effort, we’re engaging our membership and the larger Lawrenceville community through a survey to understand how welcoming and inclusive the neighborhood is. If you are a resident, we invite you to complete the brief survey below about your experiences living in Lawrenceville by April 12, 2018. You can also follow a link here. Paper copies of the survey will also be available at our office (inside Goodwill of Southwestern PA’s Workforce Development Center at 118 52nd Street), at Block Watches in March, and at the following locations: 52nd Street Market, Lawrenceville Family Care Connection, Espresso a Mano, Stephen Foster Community Center, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (Lawrenceville branch).
Lawrenceville United has recently contracted with Just Collaboration to help us develop goals and hold us accountable to our values of diversity, inclusion, and equity. As the first part of this multi-year effort, we are engaging our membership and the larger Lawrenceville community and collecting feedback through a survey. Please read our purpose statement for why we’re doing this work below:
As an inclusive, non-profit organization whose mission is to improve and protect quality of life for all Lawrenceville residents, Lawrenceville United must face the many ways that our city, our community, and our organization have failed to build opportunities for all.
We acknowledge that while Lawrenceville receives accolades as one of the “coolest neighborhoods in America” and a “poster child for urban renewal,” many residents have not benefited from reinvestment in Lawrenceville. Many residents have been displaced, disproportionately affecting residents of color. Poverty continues to affect our neighborhood residents and we must address these disparities if we are to make our community a more equitable place.
We acknowledge the history of institutional racism within our country and our community, and its continued existence today.
We recognize that Lawrenceville has been, and continues to be, a neighborhood of residents with diverse cultural, economic, and racial backgrounds that are integral to our community and have contributed much to its well-being, often without proper recognition and attention.
We face the fact that our organization has not been adequately representative or inclusive of this diversity in its Board, staff, and membership, especially residents of color. We further acknowledge that historically Lawrenceville United has perpetuated and failed to address racial disparities and discrimination.
Consistent with our newly adopted organizational values, we commit to working intentionally to eliminate these disparities and to actively build a more inclusive organization and neighborhood, where all residents are welcome, valued, and have access to opportunity. We commit to beginning this work with a specific focus on racial inequity, for the reasons described above; we recognize that there are many different forms of discrimination that affect Lawrenceville residents and we approach this work as part of our larger commitment to remove barriers to opportunity in all their many forms. Over the next two years we are undertaking a multi-year initiative to build a more diverse and inclusive organization. We ask that you join us in this work, support us in these efforts, and continue to hold us accountable.
Representatives from Michael Baker International, the City of Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office attended the 10th Ward Block Watch on 2/13/2018 to provide an update on efforts to nominate Lawrenceville to the National Registry of Historic Places through the National Park Service. For more information, please see the presentation below. Presentations will also be provided at the 9th Ward Block Watch on 2/20/2018 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Mary’s Lyceum, and at the 6th Ward Block Watch on 2/26/2018 at 7 p.m. at St. Augustine’s Church, Lower Room.