Mt. Washington's Grandview Avenue isn't looking so great these days
Siding falls off the side of a restaurant. A sidewalk crumbles. Lots sit vacant, with weeds and scattered debris.
This is what Jim Hughes sees when he leaves his Trimont condo on Mt. Washington. This is what Hughes fears tourists see when they walk along Grandview Avenue.
“I don't know whether to describe it as a slum, or what. There are derelict buildings. There are crumbling sidewalks,” said Hughes, a Pittsburgher his whole life who moved to Mt. Washington 13 years ago. “This is embarrassing, some of the things up here on this street, embarrassing.”
Though much of Grandview offers magnificent vistas of Downtown's skyscrapers, the North Shore's stadiums and the city's three rivers, blight stands out along the road that has posh and polished buildings.
City building inspectors on Friday visited two vacant lots owned by Craig Cozza, president of Cozza Enterprises, and intend to send notices of code violations on Monday, said Wayne Bossinger, field operations manager for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Building Inspection. The lots have overgrown vegetation and debris; fences, once temporary, need permits. The lot at Bertha Street has a crumbling sidewalk. The lot at Sweetbriar Avenue has a dangerous retaining wall.
“One, they call the hole. One, they call the hump,” Bossinger said. “They're just eyesores. He doesn't maintain them until he gets a letter from us.”
Cozza said his company does regular maintenance on the properties and worked with city inspectors to address code issues. He said the retaining wall on Sweetbriar was inspected a year ago and was deemed safe.
When Cozza bought the lots and cleared them, he wanted to build condos. That was eight to 10 years ago. Opposition from some residents, legal battles and a bad economy delayed the projects and forced Cozza to consider different approaches.
“We're going to have some things happening here pretty soon,” Cozza said. “It was not our intent to have those lots sitting there and in disrepair.”
Mary Beth Jackson lives on Augusta Street, across from “the hole,” Cozza's vacant lot at Sweetbriar. She grew up on Augusta Street and said several houses once stood where a pit sits. She does not want another high-rise condo building blocking her view. She would like a pool or a park.
“I'm tired of looking at it,” she said. “He probably wants to do more than plant grass.”
Jason Kambitsis, executive director of Mt. Washington Community Development Corp., speaks often with Cozza and owners of other vacant properties.
“Ultimately, in the end, there probably shouldn't be one vacant property on Grandview Avenue,” said Kambitsis. “These things are not just sitting there because the property owners don't want things to happen. They are all actively moving towards doing something.
“I think that there's movement. I think there is new blood.”
The Cliffside Restaurant, sandwiched between The Coal Hill Steakhouse and Bella Vista Ristorante Italiano, closed years ago and fell into disrepair. Ed Dunlap, chairman and CEO of Centimark Corp. and owner of The Le-Mont, bought the vacant Cliffside in 2005. He considered turning it into apartments, a collection of restaurants and a small hotel.
“One way or another, we're going to do something this year,” Dunlap said, acknowledging that the building, with siding falling off and a gutted interior, does not look good.
The cement slabs of a sidewalk along Ponka Way, less than a block off Grandview, have crumbled. Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, who represents Mt. Washington, said the city budgeted $1 million for improvements along Grandview Avenue and streets behind it.
Hughes hopes the dilapidated buildings and vacant lots turn around soon. He worries a tourist will visit Mt. Washington and overlook the beautiful view.
“People come up here to see Pittsburgh,” he said.
Aaron Aupperlee is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7986.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- City’s plan for Strip flummoxes vendors
- Local groups hope NFL lends support
- Orders for Pittsburgh police hats soar with new uniform policy
- CDC backlog means W.Pa, likely won’t get respiratory virus diagnoses quickly
- Judge denies request to lift gag order in Ford case
- Newsmaker: Ron Rohall
- 2 Oakland houses destroyed by fire; none hurt
- Marshall land parcel along Route 910 eyed as park site
- City of Pittsburgh detective, 2 boys finalize adoption before judge
- $5M grant sought for trade center site near Pittsburgh airport
- Google grants teachers’ school supply wishes