Almono, at 178 acres, is the largest development site in Pittsburgh. It is on the grounds of the last major steel plant to close in the city. The Hazelwood Coke Works, part of Jones and Laughlin Steel (LTV), operated on the site from the area’s incorporation into the City of Pittsburgh (1869) until the mill closed in 1998. The population of the adjacent neighborhood, Hazelwood, 4 miles from downtown Pittsburgh and 2 miles from the university district and jobs center of Oakland, at 4,300, is less than half the peak population in the 1950s. With the decline of steel-industry activity on the site, there has been significant disinvestment and demolition in the neighborhood. At the same time much of the neighborhood fabric is intact, with a high ownership rate, and targeted reinvestments such as the renovation of the Carnegie Library.
Almono, a name formed from the three rivers of Pittsburgh (the Allegheny, the Monongahela, and the Ohio), has a unique ownership structure. It was first formed in 2002 when the Regional Industrial Development Corporation and major Pittsburgh-based foundations addressed the redevelopment of this brownfield site. The site, set on the Monongahela River, sits vacant with the exception of the historic Round House (to be preserved) and the active rail right of way. The ownership partners have arrived at an ambitious mixed-use build program, including 1,300 housing units and light industrial development, articulated in the Preliminary Land Development Plan (PLDP) approved by the City Planning Commission in 2013.
While progressing on preliminary site improvements today, the landowners are reviewing how to ensure that the master plan for the site not only meets but exceeds the environmental performance standards (such as stormwater management, carbon footprint, etc.) set by the PLDP, as well as to recalibrate the mix of programs for work, education, and housing on the site, especially with regard to the emerging market for live-work environments and a stronger connection to the existing Hazelwood population. The partners have recently hired Perkins+Will, leaders in the design of contemporary sustainable developments, to consult on planning, urban design and sustainability in this phase, with active participation of the City.