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Pittsburgh, Heinz Endowments to partner in eco-friendly development

| Monday, March 30, 2015, 2:00 p.m.
James Knox | Trib Total Media
Mayor Bill Peduto delivers his 'State of the City' address on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, in the City-County Building, Downtown.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and the Heinz Endowments plan to announce an initiative Tuesday that will focus on redeveloping about 500 city acres in environmentally friendly, sustainable ways.

A website for the P4 Pittsburgh initiative said particular attention will be paid to a 178-acre Hazelwood site that was home to the former LTV Steel coke works, a 28-acre Lower Hill District site where the Civic Arena once stood and a 55-acre Strip District site along the Allegheny River that includes the historic Produce Terminal. Developers of the sites did not return calls.

Heinz Endowments has a stake in the projected $1 billion Hazelwood project: It's one of four local foundations combining with Downtown-based Regional Industrial Development Corp. to redevelop the site.

The city sought recommendations on the Hazelwood project from the Washington-based Rose Center for Public Leadership. A nine-person delegation, including experts in architecture, urban policy and real estate development, visited the site in February.

“When you look at all the transformative economic development opportunities we have in the city, this is really an opportunity to come together … to make sure what we're building will raise the bar,” said Kevin Acklin, Peduto's chief of staff and chief development officer.

The start of P4 — short for people, planet, place and performance — is being tied to a two-day conference next month in Pittsburgh. About 250 people have been invited, including national and international experts in urban design, according to its website. Acklin said he hopes the event becomes an annual one.

Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant could not be reached, but on the P4 website, he said the aim of the initiative is “to set a new bar for how we and others perceive the character of the Pittsburgh we are creating, as the city expands its capacity in a new era of technology-led industry and flexible urban living.”

Heinz Endowments has long promoted environmental causes such as its Breathe Project, started in 2011 to improve air quality in the region.

Other development sites being targeted by the P4 initiative are in Garfield, Homewood, Larimer, Uptown and Downtown, the website said.

Acklin said the conference is the latest example of the city's ongoing working relationship with Pittsburgh foundations. It began with Talent City, a Pittsburgh Foundation-led initiative to find qualified candidates for Peduto's administration. Other foundations contributed to that effort.

Acklin said foundation officials, Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald meet quarterly to share and align their priorities.

“That hasn't happened in prior administrations,” Acklin said.

Tom Fontaine and Bob Bauder are staff writers for Trib Total Media.

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