Exciting Development in the Cultural District
A concrete parking garage on the corner of Ninth Street and Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh will be the site of one of the largest luxury condominium projects to ever be built Downtown.
The Davis Companies of Boston has proposed building a $175 million mixed-use development at the site of the garage that would house 185 high-end apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail space, plus a new garage able to accommodate 935 vehicles.
Jonathan Davis, CEO and founder of The Davis Companies, said that there previously had been little-to-no luxury living spaces for sale Downtown – and the timing was right for this project.
He added the site’s proximity to the Allegheny riverfront, as well the bustling restaurants and theaters of the Cultural District, influenced his company’s decision to get involved with the development.
“It’s a transformational project for that part of town,” he says. “Obviously we’re delighted at the confidence the parking authority has placed in us, especially given the strong competition we faced.”
The development is, for now, planned to be built over three phases, with the condos located in two towers reaching 20 stories and 15 stories high, respectively.
The existing six-story, 583-space parking garage, which was built in the 1950s, would be replaced by the new garage.
If you’re worried the project would limit parking Downtown, fear not. The parking authority, at least at first, would own 885 spaces. As the condos are built, The Davis Companies would buy back spaces at an initial cost of $51,000 each.
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, which owns surface lots in the proposed redevelopment site, also would get 50 parking spaces.
As for the retail side of the project, Davis says it will focus on dining and entertainment options.
This isn’t the only residential work planned for the area between Seventh and Ninth streets. The Cultural Trust has plans to build 700 to 800 housing units on property it owns in the three-block area.
Grocery Delivery Now Offered Downtown
ZingBasket is Pittsburgh’s first grocery delivery service, changing the grocery shopping scene in downtown and the South Hills. They serve “anything a Giant Eagle does,” including dairy, fruits, vegetables, beverages, snacks, candy, meat, salads, deli, bakery, and more.
“What we are is a home grocery delivery business,” said owner and founder, Varol Ablak. “We don’t always have all seven brands Giant Eagle has; we’ll have two. But what we do have are brand names and locally sourced products, and we can guarantee delivery within 30-45 minutes.”
ZingBasket targets people like millennials and the elderly, who don’t have time to go grocery shopping or maybe cannot leave the house for whatever reason. They aim to be like Amazon, but they want to take it a step further with their speedy 30-45 minute delivery.
Along with ZingBasket’s new concept, they have 30 years of experience in delivery from Ablak, who runs Ablak Holdings, which owns Vocelli Pizza. As a result, Zing Basket has a fleet of drivers experienced in driving in all conditions. To top it off, delivery is free for orders over $50.
ZingBasket aims for a lot of expansion in the future. Their hours are 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., 365 days a year. However, they’re shooting to go 24/7 within the next year. Their stores have a three to four mile delivery radius, and they’re opening two more locations in downtown soon. Along with two more downtown locations, they aspire to expand to Oakland, Shadyside and the North Hills. Sometime in the near future, they also hope to offer beer and prescriptions.
Like any business, there have been challenges along the way, such as learning the grocery business. “There’s also been design of the fulfillment center,” said Ablak. “Customers can’t come in and shop, so we had to make it like a mini Amazon and make sure the picking is quick.”
Despite these challenges, ZingBasket has been overcoming them with speed. Their biggest goal is to take the concept international and “franchise, scale, and grow.” Only 1% of grocery stores deliver, while the grocery industry is a $600 billion business. They aspire to be the first to do what they do.
“We want someone to be able to get on an elevator and order their groceries by the time they reach the top floor,” said Ablak.
You can order from ZingBasket here and get $10 off your first order.
Old School Service and Charm at Cardemone’s Salon
Pittsburgh is an ever-changing city, but one thing has stayed consistent over 40 years: Cardamone’s Salon. Owner, Joe Cardamone is a manager, barber, and master-stylist, and he is one of the reasons why the salon has been around for so long. His company’s motto is simple: “It’s all about the hair.”
Cardamone’s offers hair cutting, coloring, barbering, body waxing, and eyelashes and eyebrow styling. Also, they offer formal event styling, hair extensions, and microblading. These procedures are performed by a seasoned staff who attended beauty schools such as the Pittsburgh Beauty Academy, Pittsburgh Barber School, Sassoon Academy, and Aveda Institute.
“We believe in education here,” said Cardamone. “That’s number one: trying to educate our staff.”
Along with a formal education, Cardamone grew up surrounded by hair styling in his family, which lead him to open the shop 40 years ago. Since he’s been in business, he’s met all kinds of people from the area, from CEOs to store clerks. Meeting the people of Pittsburgh is his favorite part of owning the salon.
“We’ve built relationships for 40 years,” said Cardamone. “We have some of the clients from when we opened the doors. And they’re still here, and now their kids come.”
With his consistent customers, Cardamone has also seen his clientele change and grow with the city. He remarked that Pittsburgh used to be corporate-centered, but the construction of new hotels and apartments drew people in, especially tourists and travelers. They’ve also developed a growing student clientele with the expansion of Point Park University and Duquesne University.
Cardamone credits the salon’s steady growth to his business model: “We believe in attraction rather than promotion. We attract certain clientele, and we don’t really advertise too much.”
Ullrich Shoe Repair: A Hidden Gem of Downtown
In the following weeks, the PDCDC will be highlighting different hidden gems of Downtown. In this first edition, we will cover Ullrich Shoe Repair.
A dying trade is kept alive here in Pittsburgh by the men and women of Ullrich Shoe Repair. Run by Rex Sterno as the chief cobbler, the current Ullrich Shoe Shop was originally run from Grant Street in 1991, before closing in 2000 when Frank Putaro, the original owner of Ullrich’s and Rex’s Father-in-law started to ease himself into retirement. Rex has operated the business since 2003 when Frank fully retired from the business.
Even though Rex is the main cobbler at Ullrich, alongside Paul Manno, Rex got into the shoe trade through marrying the daughter of Frank Putaro in 1981 after previously working as a welder. Frank started a shoe shop in Castle Village, before buying a shoe shop from John Ullrich on Liberty, where the name Ullrich originally came from. However, the shoe shop Frank originally started on Liberty is not the same as the Ullrich shop that is there today, as it closed when Frank’s uncle Dominick moved back to Italy in 1978.
Since taking over Ullrich’s, Rex has managed to build up quite the resume, and not just from fixing average shoes. “We’ve been doing all the plays that come into town,” he said. “Anytime there’s a play… they all know to bring their shoes.”
With Heinz Hall, Benedum and the public theaters in Pittsburgh, there is a high demand for shoe work with the live entertainment industry. Even big Hollywood actors and musicians have a demand for shoe work, as seen with the signed pictures of famous celebrities hanging up on the wall of the shop. Portraits of famous names like Britney Spears and Whoopi Goldberg shine in the shop’s lights as business goes on. “We’ll do movies, we would do Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe’s. We’ve done Bruce Willis’,” Rex said.
Ullrich Shoe Repair even offers shoe shining, a service most would identify with the bygone golden age of industry during the days of Carnegie and Rockefeller. Samuel Blair, the shop’s main shoe-shiner, has worked at Ullrich since 1992. “When you shine the shoes… You put the polish on, brush it off…you press that up, then you put your rag on that,” he explained as he moved a pair of brushes across a gentleman’s shoe.
Even though the demand for shoe repair has declined, there is still a demand for clean and well-dressed shoes, as Evan Frazier, the Senior Vice President of Highmark’s Community Affairs department, can tell. “I probably need all the help I can get. In corporate America, your shoes need to look shiny when you go out representing,” he said.
Rex has his work cut out for him as the number of people engaging in the shoe trade has gone down drastically. “In 1950, there were 850,000 shoemakers in America, and today there’s 4,000.” he said. According to Rex’s statistic, there is less than one half of a percent of shoemakers today than there were 65 years ago, marking an extreme decline in the trade.
But all may not be lost, in an article by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the demand for shoe repair is on the raise, despite the fact most buy either athletic shoes for all-purpose needs or otherwise cheaply made shoes, both made by machine on an assembly line, are simply thrown away when they break down. The only problem to tackle it seems is getting younger generations interested in the shoe trade so cobblers like Rex and his assistant Paul Manno can retire with their minds at ease, knowing they are not the last of their kind.
Music City Downtown Weekly Calendar
Andys @ Fairmont Pittsburgh
Thursday, September 7 – Lisa Bleil from 7:30 – 10:30 p.m.
Friday, September 8 – DJ Malls Spins Vinyl from 5:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Friday, September 8 – Clare Ascani from 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Saturday, September 9 – Tania Grubbs 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Sunday, September 10 – Heather Kropf 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Friday, September 8 – Daryl Shawn, Acoustic Guitar from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 9 – Jeremy Fiisher Jr, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Live jazz every night of the week at various times. Check out Eddie V’s website for a full calendar.
Howl at the Moon
Live music on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Fridays at 6:00 p.m. For more information, visit Howl at the Moon’s website here.
Revel + Roost
Friday, September 8 – Terrance Vaughn from 7:00 – 11:00 p.m.
Thursday, September 7 – Nick Fiasco at 7:00 p.m.
Friday, September 8 – Artistree at 9:00 p.m.
Friday, September 8 – Juan & Erica at 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 9– Right Turn Clyde at 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 9 – Tres Lads at 9:00 p.m.
Olive or Twist
Live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 9:00 p.m.
Salsa and Bachata nights at Seviche every Tuesday from 10:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. and a live DJ every Friday from 10:00 p.m. – close.
Friday, September 8 – Benny Bernack at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 9 – Dan Bubien at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 10 – Strange Brew from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Downtown Events this Week:
Thomas Wendt, Agnes Katz Plaza, 5:00 p.m.
Pup Night at PNC Park: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs, PNC Park, 7:05 p.m.
Hot Salsa & Bachata Nights, Seviche, 10:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Wednesday Wine Flights: Wine & War, Cabaret at Theater Square, 6:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Downtown 5k Tour, Market Square, 6:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m. (through September 27)
Pittsburgh Professional Singles Speed Dating, Penn Society, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday Night Karaoke with DJ NoName, 941 Saloon, 10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Larrimor’s Fall 2017 Designer Trunk Show – Nina McLemore Fall Trunk Show, Larrimor’s, September 7 through September 9 from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
WordPlay, Bricolage, September 8 & 9, 8:00 p.m.
A Fine Li(n)e, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater, September 8 & 9, 8:00 p.m.
Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, & Marriage, Cabaret at Theater Square, 7:30 p.m., through September 17th
Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District, The Cultural District, through September 21, 2018
All About the Burgh, the Culture to Ketchup Tour!, Station Square, through October 31st
Beauty of the Burgh with Bike the Burgh Tours, 500 First Ave., through December 31st
Live Music Fridays at Backstage Bar, Backstage Bar at Theater Square, Fridays through October 20th
Art of Facts – Uncovering Pittsburgh Stories Exhibition, Heinz History Center, through January 14