Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Expansion Plans Upset West Oakland Residents

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Expansion Plans Upset West Oakland Residents

Article excerpt

In the late afternoon, steady streams of cars and shuttles wend their way up and down Robinson Street past vehicles parked straddling the sidewalk. Same thing in the morning.

For many people who work at Oakland institutions, Robinson is a quick conduit to and from the Boulevard of the Allies and the parkway. But the convenience for commuters has become such an imposition on residents that some are urging limits on a much- needed office development at the bottom of the street.

It's not just traffic that concerns them. They're also feeling squeezed.

The proposed expansion of the Oakland Portal Project, which began with a 47-unit apartment building on Fifth Avenue just west of Robinson, would provide one 13-story and two eight-story buildings and a hotel in a market that has almost no office vacancies. The 12- acre site sits between Fifth and Forbes avenues. Representatives of the developer, LW Molar Associates, expect the city's planning commission to vote on the proposal tomorrow. Planning hearings begin at 2 p.m. in the first-floor conference room at 200 Ross St.

There will be no public comment; that was taken two weeks ago, when residents told the commission the plan fails to include solutions they suggested during community meetings last fall and earlier in the winter.

One solution, said Barbara Brewton, a longtime resident, would be to prevent cars from being able to get on the parkway via Robinson Street. Commuters now turn right illegally from Robinson to get onto the parkway via the Boulevard of the Allies.

A traffic study by Trans Associates indicated that more than 300 vehicles travel on Robinson every hour in the afternoon. The company proposes reconfiguring the Fifth and Robinson intersection to better accommodate Port Authority buses and a new signal to make the right turn for cars legal and safer.

Planning Director Noor Ismail said the city has signed off on the development site plan.

It calls for retail on the plaza level, landscaping and integral parking. The first building is to be eight stories and would accommodate 274 cars, mostly underground. The developer wants to break ground on it by summer.

"Many of us feel the project would hinder the objectives for this community as specified in the Oakland 2025 plan," Ms. …

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