Community-Driven Design in the Hilltop

By: Sara Innamorato

The first step in reducing blight in the Hilltop is seeking ideas from the citizens that live there.

Participants give their two cents.

Participants give their two cents.

Participants give their two cents.

Julie Pezzino speaks to an attentive crowd.

Grant Ervin, Pittsburgh's Sustainability Manager shows his support for the community visioning process.

On Thursday evening, Hilltop residents, Grow Pittsburgh, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair Block Watch, Chatham University’s Urban Design Lab, ReClaim South Ambassadors, the Hilltop Alliance, and many others convened at the Lighthouse Cathedral in the Hilltop to explore ideas for re-purposing the 115 vacant acres of the former St. Clair Village site. GTECH has been part of the steering committee for this project as a way of supporting one of the many initiatives to reduce blight in the Hilltop.

Altogether, there were nearly 70 community members participating in the meeting. Aaron Sukenik of the Hilltop Alliance emphasized that the primary goal of the meeting was to allow Hilltop residents to voice their opinions and priorities about how this site could be re-purposed. Julie Pezzino, Executive Director of Grow Pittsburgh, described some potential uses for the site while participants were invited to write down their thoughts. Some ideas included an incubator farm, an agritainment area, a vineyard and orchard, a community greenspace and a composting center. At the end of the event, every participant could use four votes to indicate their top choices.

“I just find the whole concept fascinating. I don’t think there are enough fruits and vegetables in the area. They’re too expensive in the grocery store” 

Sharon Alberts, Carrick Community Council

Many people were inspired by the thought of food growing on the site, such as Sharon Alberts of Carrick Community Council. Sharon Watson, a nearby resident, explained that she wanted to be part of this project because “it’s something positive, something different”. She loves to see so many people getting involved. One of GTECH’s ReClaim South Ambassadors, John Niederberger, appreciated that the meeting “gave everyone an opportunity to share their two cents”.

Here at GTECH we love supporting vacant land projects that do just that. Because of the size of St. Clair Village site, this project has the potential to make a great impact. We continue to be grateful for the people around Pittsburgh that care for their neighborhoods by taking part in community visioning processes like this. We look forward to seeing how the projects of our 13 Ambassadors in the Hilltop connect to other greening projects in the area!

For more information on the St. Clair Village project visit the Hilltop Alliance’s website .

What would you do with the 115 acres of land that sits in the St. Clair neighborhood? Tell us your creative ideas below.


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