What would Hazelwood’s 178-acre brown field look like if it were developed by teenage students from one of Pittsburgh’s private schools?
Hazelwood’s community leaders and stakeholders got the answer when they visited Winchester Thurston on Jan. 22. As part of their class on urban research and design, three groups of senior students presented different development plans for the former steel site.
“Whenever a site like this is built, there’s a lot of stakeholders,” said student Jake Sonnenklar from Squirrel Hill. “We learned that there’s a lot of people who will be affected and they all have to be included.”
For this reason, each presentation included something to benefit the community whether it was ample green space for parks and recreation, commercial businesses to create jobs, or a community center with tutoring services and adult education.
Citing the Waterfront in Homestead, Sonnenklar said “A lot of the time when developments like this are built it really negatively impacts the people in the neighborhoods around it.” The students believed the developments they were proposing would be an asset to Hazelwood and Pittsburgh as a whole.
The students were especially focused on the fact that Hazelwood no longer has a school. While two of the proposals offered education opportunities through a library and community center, one of the proposals also called for building a charter school.
The Almono development is located on a former industrial plant site which closed in 1997 and has been vacant since. The land was purchased by a group of four southwestern Pennsylvania foundations in 2002 for redevelopment.
Plans for the Almono site are already underway so it’s not likely developers will take the Winchester students’ proposals into consideration. But plans for the site already mirror some of what the students proposed.
The site will be a mix of residential, commercial and industrial development; and will have a focus on green space and environmental innovation. Construction on infrastructure is slated to begin this spring.
The project was part of Winchester Thurston’s City as a Our Campus program that connects students with culture, politics, and the economy throughout Pittsburgh.
“The idea is that youth have a voice and can be players in developing our city,” said Winchester teacher Teresa DeFlitch. “It’s all about connecting youth with the city.”
Next up, students from Winchester Thurston will be working on development projects in North Oakland. Unlike in Hazelwood, the students will be involved in the implementation process , in addition to planning and designing.