Grocery store priority for new Hill House head

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In December when he agreed to serve as acting head of the Hill House Association, Victor Roque said he would follow up on initiatives outgoing president Evan Frazier had in place, while a replacement search was conducted.

The search ended June 10 when Roque was named new president and CEO.

VictorRoque
SERVING THE COMMUNITY—That’s what new Hill House Association President and CEO Victor Roque says the agency will focus on. He was promoted by the board June 10.

“It comes at a good time for me” he said. “I’ve been retired a while, been on boards, and I found I like getting my hands on issues. And there are many issues and opportunities here in the Hill District.”

As for putting his stamp on the Hill House, Roque said his vision for the association isn’t that different from Frazier’s. The only real difference, he said, is now that he’s officially in charge he has to follow through on the initiatives they’ve been looking at.

“We plan to focus on the people we serve by positively impacting lives as we’ve always done. We want to he a voice for issues affecting the Hill,” he said.”

One of those issues is bringing a grocery to the Hill.

“The Hill House CDC is still involved in getting a full-service grocery store in the Hill, 25,000 square feet or more,” said Roque. “We have the site and are in the process of vetting and choosing operators and have raised money. We’ve had a variety of responses and degrees of interest. We want to have a nationally recognized name if we can. I’ve been working on this very hard since I got here and the community is anxious. So, I’m hoping to be able to say more sooner rather than later.”

Financially, he said, the Hill House is in good shape, despite the economy. He said the renovations to the Kaufmann Auditorium should be completed by year’s end, and he sees increasing occupancy in the One Hope Square building proceeding as people look for space in proximity to Downtown.

“It is challenging to raise funds in this climate, but we’re not starting from scratch,” Roque said. “We have wonderful support from foundation and corporate communities, and from the community here in the Hill. People have been very generous, and I’m humbled by the support we’ve received.”

Roque, 63, was president of Duquesne Light Co. from 2001 until he retired in 2003. He previously served as vice chairman of the Hill House Association’s board of directors. He is a member of the board of directors of Highmark Inc., and an independent board member of PNG Companies LLC. He is also the former chairman of the Urban League of Pittsburgh.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpitsburghcourier.com.)

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