East End Giant Eagle Developer Says Plan Is Evolving Amid Community Concerns

Sep 10, 2019

The developers proposing a Giant Eagle revamp on Shady Avenue in the East End presented their plans to the Pittsburgh Planning Commission Tuesday. The Shakespeare Street development has received some pushback.

The presentation centered on changing the zoning code in the area, but developer ECHO Realty took the opportunity to present details of the project. The Giant Eagle will become smaller, and there will also be housing: more than 230 units, with 15 percent designated affordable.

Dan Yablonsky, director of communications and development for Pittsburghers for Public Transit, said the advocacy group wants as much affordable housing as possible.

"The level of displacement and gentrification in East Liberty in recent years is startling," Yablonsky said. "This Shakespeare development is an opportunity to bring those residents who were displaced back and provide the neighborhood with the affordable housing it needs."

Another concern raised by PPT and community members is that the large amount of parking created will bring more traffic to the already-congested area. The current plan includes 492 parking spaces. 

City Councilor Erika Strassburger said she sympathizes with those concerns, and that she'd like to see designated affordable housing units bumped to at least 20 percent.

"The thing I want to stress is that this is not any kind of final design," Strassburger said. "We're still in the midst of a process here."

At the Planning Commission meeting, ECHO's Vice President Philip Bishop said the plan is constantly evolving.

"We've been listening to the public, changing, tweaking," Bishop said. "And we're still heavily involved in that process."

ECHO has held more than a dozen meetings with the public since February, including one Monday night. The current plan for the Shakespeare Street development has more affordable housing and fewer parking spaces than previous iterations.

The plan will go in front of the Planning Commission again on October 22.