Photograph courtesy of @CityPGH
Transit infrastructure greatly improves a critical connection for community to jobs and opportunity while transit-oriented private development creates leverage to improve neighborhood affordability
PITTSBURGH, PA– (Joining Federal Transit Administration Regional Administrator Terry Garcia-Crews and other partners, Mayor William Peduto today ceremonially relaunched the East Liberty Station on the Martin Luther King, Jr East Busway after undergoing a significant reconstruction.
“This $150+ million project is about more than East Liberty — it creates the platform from which we can leverage greater investments in affordability. It gives East Liberty the opportunity to flourish while providing a unique opportunity to rebuild neighborhoods next door,” Mayor Peduto said.
At a ribbon-cutting this afternoon, Regional Administrator Garcia-Crews referenced the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision to invest $15 million in East Liberty by awarding a TIGER IV discretionary federal grant in 2012.
“This project is a great example of how public-private partners can successfully work together to produce a project that reconnects communities and neighborhoods,” said FTA Regional Administrator Terry Garcia-Crews. “The East Liberty Transit Center raises the standard and quality of transportation with all of its new passenger amenities, multi-level access ways, pedestrian bridge, intersection upgrades, ITS applications, bicycle garage, parking, and pedestrian improvements.”
“I fought for the TIGER grant to fund this project because it has the potential to improve transportation services in East Liberty and across Pittsburgh,” U.S. Senator Bob Casey said. “Pittsburgh is on the upswing and East Liberty is playing a substantial role in the city’s revitalization. I continue to press the Administration to invest in Pittsburgh so the region has the 21st century infrastructure it needs.”
“This project is the result of a public-private partnership that’s remarkable both for the innovative financing plan used to fund it and for its ability to leverage public and private investments to create jobs and preserve affordable housing in this part of the City,” added U.S. Representative Mike Doyle. “I was pleased to be part of this partnership and help secure the federal grant that made this project possible.”
The intermodal, transit-oriented center on the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway at the connection of Shadyside and East Liberty is at the center of the East Liberty Transit Revitalization Investment District — or TRID — which is the first implementation of such a district in the state.
“This transit-oriented development – leveraging both public and private investments – represents an enormous step forward for this area. This project will expand economic opportunities for residents and make public transit more accessible for workers, neighbors and disabled residents,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “I commend County Executive Fitzgerald and Mayor Peduto for their leadership on this effort.”
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said, “It has been exciting to see the East Liberty area coming back in a big way and the growth here impacts further development that benefits the region. Transit has become such an integral part of our economic development strategy and I’m very proud to be standing here today with so many of our partners that made this project a reality.”
Mayor Peduto praised the public-private efforts that have helped East Liberty neighbors turn their community into a city success story that can be repeated nearby. Urban Redevelopment Authority chairman Kevin Acklin echoed the Mayor’s recent landmark agreement on affordability in East Liberty in his own remarks.
“We celebrate the critical connection that this transit improvement represents for the community, but we can’t forget the bigger picture. This investment creates the opportunity to leverage private development investment so that we can improve affordability and fend off the market pressures that threaten vulnerable households in our community,” Chairman Acklin said. “This is a model for what we hope to achieve in even greater magnitude in the future.”
“Eighteen years ago the community got together to fight blight and crime in East Liberty, and Mosites decided to work with the community on that,” Mayor Peduto said. “As private developers choose to partner with us in the public sector, we can accomplish so much more for all our neighborhoods. These partnerships are the seeds of our success in the East End.”
The transit center project – which required nearly 20 funding sources to complete and built upon six acres of disused public and private land — includes a reconstructed transit station, 3,000 square feet of mixed commercial space, 360 units of market-rate housing, a 554-space shared-use parking facility, a new street connection, a new pedestrian bridge, a 120-space bike garage, lighting, streetscape improvements, landscaping and plaza facilities that connect Penn Avenue transit users to the MLK, Jr. East Busway facilities.
“This has been without question one of the most complicated projects we at the URA have ever taken part in,” Acting Executive Director Robert Rubinstein said. “But with a committed group of stakeholders acting as partners, we solved the complexity through creativity and coordination. The end result is worth it; we’ve achieved an incredible win for the community.”
Governor Tom Wolf’s Southwest Regional Director Erin Molchany and officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Department of Community & Economic Development, Port Authority of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh Public School District, East Liberty Development Inc., the Kingsley Association, The Mosites Co. and others joined Administrator Garcia-Crews and Mayor Peduto at the Wednesday event.
The ribbon-cutting represents the culmination of substantially completed work at the East Liberty Station and will eventually result in a new street connection to be called “Spirit Street” that will link S. Highland Avenue and Penn Avenue, also made possible by the $15 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant, administered by the Federal Transit Administration, to the Urban Redevelopment Authority. As part of the government-supported large-scale infrastructure work, underutilized property was transformed into a platform on which The Mosites Company partnered with Morgan Management is constructing a $90+ million private development, scheduled to be completed in stages. The first residents in The Mosites Company development – to be called Eastside Bond – are expected to move in this month.
Mayor Peduto has announced the creation of an affordable housing strategy fund that will support families in the greater East Liberty area who are vulnerable to displacement. The East Liberty Transit Center and the Mosites Eastside Bond transit-oriented development will be key assets to leverage in order to create such a fund.
In recent years, this and other infrastructure investments in East Liberty have enabled development to deliver an estimated 3,000 new jobs and over $400 Million in new investment at the heart of one of the busiest transit nodes in western Pennsylvania.