Community groups speak out with concerns after project approved to build theater in Hill District

While development is set to get underway in the Lower Hill, community groups are speaking out about the needs in the Upper and Middle Hill when it comes to housing.

“What would $2 million do right now, and they believe it would jump-start any number of projects starting with the vacant land,” said Randall Taylor with the Hill District Consensus Group.

Groups including the Hill Consensus Group, Uptown Partners and Hill District Collaborative are frustrated. They believe the URA isn’t acting in the resident’s best interest after awarding the Hill CDC $2 million from the American Rescue funds to put towards the New Granada Theatre development.

“We have immediate needs right now. We are losing residents out of this community on a daily basis. There’s people who are leaving their homes on a daily basis because they can’t repair their roofs while the rain is coming through. So we have immediate needs right now which, again, makes that question of $2 million even more questionable,” Taylor said.

But the Hill CDC told Channel 11 this money was pledged to the group back in 2019 during the negotiations for the Lower Hill entertainment venue.

“With the Lower Hill entertainment venue and parking garage receiving tens of millions in tax dollars, it would be unconscionable to not ensure that the City of Pittsburgh and URA are investing in this historic project that is not only important to the Hill District but nationally,” said Marimba Milliones with the Hill CDC.

But other Hill residents feel that can come after housing needs are met.

“We want to prioritize families in this city of Pittsburgh and to build housing that’ll accommodate families,” Taylor said.

These groups want to take this discussion to the URA and mayor about the lack of funding support for immediate needs.

“The Avenues of Hope Initiative is being realized as a result of the URA’s development efforts along the Centre Avenue corridor. For the past four years, the URA has been working with the Hill CDC in developing a capital stack for the New Granada Theater. Our investment in the Hill District is not limited to the Hill CDC. We are committed to ensure reactivation along Centre Avenue and beyond. We are working with Amani CDC, Communion Place, Studio Volcy, Big Tom’s Barbershop, Salem’s Grocery Store, 21 Rose, Sankofa Square, and Salon XO. Please refer to the April board meeting with the Centre Avenue updates,” said a URA spokesperson.

Channel 11 did not hear back from the mayor’s office.

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