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Research center goes to planners

Tony LaRussa
| Monday, Oct. 10, 2005, 12:00 p.m.

A planned nine-story research center that would be part of the new Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh complex in Lawrenceville is among several projects scheduled for review Tuesday by the city planning commission.

The research center would be on what is now a parking lot along Garwood Way, several blocks from the new Children's Hospital being built along Penn Avenue on the site of the former St. Francis Medical Center. The $473 million hospital is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2008.

The commission also will conduct a second public hearing on plans to extend the boundaries of the zoning that regulates what types of businesses are permitted in the North Shore, a portion of the South Side and Downtown. The proposal is tied to the possible opening of a slot machine parlor.

Of the six primary city locations under consideration for Pittsburgh's slots license, only the one in Hays has the proper zoning in place.

The planning commission also will consider restricting how close pawn shops, check cashing outlets and adult-oriented businesses can be to a slots parlor. The current proposal calls for a minimum of 1,000 feet between a slots parlor and such businesses.

The planning commission also will review plans for an eight-unit townhouse project called Beechwood Flats, proposed for an 80,000-square-foot lot at Beechwood Boulevard and Rosemont Lane in Squirrel Hill.

City Council previously approved a zoning change for the property, which had been split between single family and parks and open space. The new zoning for the property is Residential Planned Development.

The eight townhouses would be in three separate units. Two units would have three townhouses each, and the third would be built as a duplex. The property already has curb cuts and a semi-circular driveway.

The planning commission also might vote on whether to approve designs for four proposed light-rail transit stations for an underground subway between Downtown and the North Shore.

Since three of the four stations are underground, the commission will focus its review mainly on the elevated station proposed near the Carnegie Science Center's Sportsworks complex, said Bob Reppe, city zoning administrator.

The station, which also will serve Heinz Field patrons, will be made primarily of glass to create a "transparent" facility, he said.

The other station sites are in the parking garage under construction between Heinz Field and PNC Park; adjacent to the new transportation center planned along Grant Street on the site of the Greyhound bus terminal; and an expansion of the underground station at Gateway Center near Fifth Avenue Place.

Port Authority Construction Director Henry Nutbrown said he intends to address questions that were raised by planning commission members during an informal presentation in September.

"Some people were seeing the drawings for the first time and didn't understand how our stations worked," he said. "I hope to communicate better with the planning commission."

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