By the time the new Thelma Lovette YMCA is completed on Centre Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, Urban Redevelopment Authority Director of Diversity says about 43 percent of the work on the project will have been done by minority contractors, most of them Black.

“The majority of those minorities will be African-Americans,” he said. “We wanted the project to show a true appreciation to an iconic figure like Thelma Lovette. So I approached the YMCA, and we agreed to surpass the city goal of 25 percent. They are the owners of this and they mandated it. They said 40 percent but we think it might be 43. Right now, we’re at 38 percent.”

NEW FACE ON CENTRE AVE—An artist’s rendering shows the facade design for the Thelma Lovette YMCA under construction and scheduled to open next year in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.

Powell said all of the Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprise participation on the $11 million project is being contracted to local firms. Some of these firms are:

Waller Construction, $437,000 for drywall and painting;

Butler Landscaping, $102,000;

Pro Mechanics, $316,000 for mechanical systems;

Anthony Phillips, $36,000 for Dumpsters and roll-off service;

6 Degrees, $65,000 for miscellaneous interior finishing; and a joint venture between Sergeant Electric and Emerald Electric valued at $792,000.

“That deal will not only help Emerald build a relationship with Sergeant for future private work but it will help us develop a comfort level with them,” said Powell.

Situated on Centre Avenue between Addison and Elmore streets, when completed, the new 43,000 square-foot facility will feature a computer lab, exercise facilities, a large indoor swimming pool, meeting rooms, a gymnasium and a wide offering of programs for children and families.

Though she had moved to Arizona to live earlier with family, the 94-year-old civil rights icon—and the first woman to serve on the boards of the Centre Avenue and Greater Pittsburgh YMCAs—attended the August groundbreaking ceremony for the building that will bear her name.

Centre Avenue YMCA Board Chairman Tom Burley, echoed Powell in saying the emphasis on Black labor on the Lovette project is crucial.

“That’s the way it should be, but as you know it’s not always the case,” said Burley. “It’s vitally important to have a significant minority presence on this building, especially in a minority neighborhood. We got out in front of this because we wanted to avoid the kind of thing we saw happen with contracting on the Irvis Building project. When I drive by there, even in winter, I see color.”

Burley praised YMCA leadership and the URA for keeping their eyes on the ball, one example of which he said was the YMCA hiring Cameil Williams, former Allegheny County MWDBE director, to monitor contracting.

“I thought that was a very positive touch, she did a good job with the county,” he said.

Williams, whose Williams Management Solutions firm is currently conducting a series of minority business luncheons and seminars, said she is thrilled to be part of the team and thanked the Greater Pittsburgh YMCA, and President and CEO Eric Mann for making sure this project reflects the community.

“The Y has been extremely proactive, they have a standard. I’ve always been about aiming to bring more opportunities to Minority businesses and work with leadership to remove barriers to doing so,” she said. “I’m very pleased to be a part of the Thelma Lovette project, for obvious reasons.”

Construction, supervised by general contractor P.J. Dick, will probably not be completed until January 2012.

(Send comments to

Also On New Pittsburgh Courier:
comments – Add Yours