Riverlife’s 2015 Year in Review

By November 13, 2015Blog

Bringing people and public places to Pittsburgh’s riverfronts

This year has been an exciting time for Riverlife and its many partners working to complete the community-created vision of Pittsburgh’s downtown riverfront park system.  To date, more than 80% of Three Rivers Park has been been built, with over 13 miles and 850 acres of publicly accessible riverfront parks and trails.  The future promises some key new public open spaces along all three rivers and the completion of a much-anticipated Downtown bike and pedestrian connection.  Here’s how we’re doing it, and here’s what’s in store for all to enjoy as we work together to complete Three Rivers Park.

The past year has seen a surge of proposed development plans throughout the Three Rivers Park area. Riverlife’s professional staff and dedicated volunteer Design Review Committee are working with property owners and city officials to further enhance projects, including:

  • The Buncher Company and NRP Group on design and public riverfront access on the 37-acre Riverfront Landing development between 11th and 21st Streets in the Strip District
  • Forest City Enterprises and Trammell Crow Co. on their residential Station Square East project to incorporate pedestrian and bike links to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail on the South Side
  • Oxford Development Company on design and riverfront amenities for their Yards at Three Crossings residential project in the Strip District
  • Oxford, Rugby Realty, The Buncher Company and a coalition of other Strip District developers and property owners to coordinate planning for a riverfront park between 11th and 28th Streets along the Allegheny River
  • Rivers Casino and Carnegie Science Center on expansion planning, habitat study and riverfront amenities on the North Shore, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Highwoods Properties and The Soffer Organization on riverfront amenities, potential dining and access on the commercial development adjacent to South Shore Riverfront Park
  • Max Construction on design, accessibility and landscape restoration at the new marina at SouthSide Works

Recently awarded a 2015 Pittsburgh Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence, Riverlife’s “tbd” project was meant to inspire conversations about an underused stretch of riverfront under the Fort Duquesne Bridge near Point State Park. That project saw the creation of a 750-foot-long mural by artist Kim Beck painted by over 150 volunteers paired with a project gallery of young architects’ visions for filling urban riverfront voids.

We also produced the Lunchtime Loop, designed to encourage Pittsburghers to take a 1.5-mile walk or jog along the Allegheny for fitness and fun. The result? Thousands of trail users saw the Fort Duquesne Bridge riverfront in a new way and began thinking of future long-term improvements.

In the midst of so much riverfront activity in Pittsburgh, Riverlife provides leadership and a voice for public access, high-quality design and environmental restoration. We continue to work to achieve:

  • Funding and solutions for long-term maintenance of public places throughout Three Rivers Park
  • More vibrancy, events, and coordination as Pittsburgh’s riverfront culture continues to grow
  • A statewide Waterfront Development Tax Credit to incentivize private investment in public waterfront parks and projects throughout the Commonwealth

In 2013, Riverlife and community partners began a process to restore and enhance Allegheny Landing, one of Pittsburgh’s first outdoor sculpture parks when it opened in 1982.  Working with the City of Pittsburgh, local businesses and philanthropic groups, Riverlife has proposed updates that will make the park more flood and weather resistant and incorporate state-of-the-art landscape improvements to help manage stormwater.

A renovated boat and fishing dock was completed in 2013, restoration of the public artwork was finished earlier this year, and a rebuilt trail is slated for completion in 2016.

Having long advocated and helped to shepherd the Mon Wharf Switchbackthrough an extensive permitting process, Riverlife is proud to be the leader in the partnership working to complete the Switchback in 2016.  The switchback ramp will, for the first time ever, connect pedestrians and cyclists from the Smithfield Street Bridge to the Monongahela Wharf Landing, completing a significant missing link in Pittsburgh’s downtown riverfront trail system.  A difficult project in a challenging location, the project design is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and will accommodate all users and cyclists.

Who says Riverlife doesn’t know how to have a good time? 2015 ushered in our most successful fundraiser celebration yet on August 28 on the North Shore. But don’t take our word for it – watch the short video recap to relive all the riverfront fun that happened on that beautiful night.

On October 1st, Riverlife welcomed Vivien Li as our new president and CEO. Vivien moved to Pittsburgh from Boston, where she served as executive director and president of The Boston Harbor Association for over 24 years. During her time at TBHA, Vivien oversaw the cleanup of the harbor waters and was a major force behind the completion of Boston’s 41-mile HarborWalk public access system. Welcome to the team, Vivien!

Your support allows Riverlife to continue our work on these projects and others that create or connect to Pittsburgh’s downtown riverfront park system. Be a part of the before-and-after riverfront transformation. Make your donation to Riverlife today.