Sunday, June 19, 2005

Courier reports FAMILY Dollar might open near the Hill House

New Pittsburgh Courier Family Dollar ushers in new Hill House CDC.

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Family Dollar ushers in new Hill House CDC

by Christian Morrow
Courier Staff Writer

As part of its strategic reconfiguration, the Hill House Association has altered the focus of its housing development arm and renamed itself the Hill House Economic Development Corp.

And the change is bringing immediate results, with a Family Dollar Store leasing the organization's property at the corner of Centre Avenue and Devilliers Street in Pittsburgh's Hill District.

�The Hill House had a development corporation for years but it was focused on housing and had been dormant for some time,� said Executive Director Evan Frazier. �We saw a greater need to bring about changes in our immediate neighborhood and to work with other organizations to do that.�

Urban Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Jerry Dettore said he welcomes the Hill House's efforts.

�The Hill House Association has always been effective at bridging people with services,� he said. �With a broadened focus on economic development, they will become a partner with the URA and others in linking the Hill District with growth and opportunity.�

In addition to the Family Dollar initiative, the Hill House recently received $25,000 to further develop plans for a non-profit, cooperative grocery store.

The initial grocery design, created by a group of Carnegie Mellon University students, won the $25,000 award in the JP Morgan Chase Community Development Competition last month.

Frazier said the agency's attention to economic development is part of its restructuring under a new strategic plan.

�We've been known recently, and rightly so, for our attention to providing top quality social services,� said Frazier. �But a lot of what we do is on a county-wide basis. This restructuring allows us to respond more to the needs of the Hill District.�

Developer Irv Williams said he welcomes any commercial development in the Hill and said the Family Dollar is a positive sign.

He said, however, the store's location could raise parking issues. The building abuts the small parking lot for his One Hope Square retail and office building.

�My bottom floor is going to be filled back up with retail, not to mention my other tenants,� he said. �Clergy and Churches United uses the whole lot every time they have a meeting.�

Hill District Community Development Corp. Executive Director Andrea Wright Banks said revitalizing the Hill District's commercial corridor will take every stakeholder in the community and she welcomes the Hill House's Family Dollar initiative.

�I think it's a wonderful idea. Any step on Centre Avenue is a good step,� she said. �It's great to reutilize that property and I hope it will provide an impetus to our redevelopment of the New Granada Theatre. It's just across the street and will definitely increase the Granada's marketability.�

Frazier said the target date for the Family Dollar opening is still being worked out. Those details, as well as estimates on the number of neighborhood people to be employed, will be made available before the end of the month.

Family Dollar, a discount home merchandiser, has more than 5,600 stores in 44 states. Because most of their stores are located in food-store anchored neighborhoods, Frazier said it would increase the Hill's appeal as a grocery location.