Take action now: Tell your elected officials you oppose the Oakland Gateway Ventures Bates Street project


We have received dozens of calls over the last several months from residents concerned about the development proposals being floated by Oakland Gateway Ventures (OGV) for Bates Street. There is indeed cause for concern. In addition to the negative impacts that would occur to our neighborhood, the integrity of our zoning districts are threatened and the community’s vision articulated in The Oakland 2025 Master Plan is disregarded. This is absolutely unacceptable.  This project is not a done deal; get involved so we can keep it that way.

Providing information to our community on proposed development is a top priority for OPDC. Below is an update of what we currently know about this proposal. Please contact us at 412.621.7863 ext. 15 for more information.

  1. OPDC staff and Coalition of Oakland Residents members met with Scenic Pittsburgh, the organization now representing OGV, in January 2017. They made clear OGV’s intentions to move forward with a 16-22 story high-rise building on Bates Street despite this being illegal and despite the community’s strong opposition over the last two years. This proposal has significant problems that have potential to negatively affect Oakland:
    • Zoning of the site allows only six stories.
    • The developer wants to build on Zulema Street and Zulema Park, using public land for private development. The community has clearly articulated opposition to taking public property for private gain. This situation is similar to the recent battle between East Liberty residents and a developer over Enright Park.
    • The developer also plans to construct an 1,800-car parking garage further down on Bates, on property zoned Hillside. Zoning does not allow a commercial use in the Hillside zoning district. Only single-unit residential is allowed in Hillside zoning district.
    • The proposed development will bring more cars to an already-congested area.
    • The proposed development disregards The Oakland 2025 Master Plan vision of sustainable living that supports quality of life.
    • The proposed development disregards our community values, community spaces, and community process.
  2. Several residents report that the OGV threatened exercising eminent domain powers to acquire their property. However, only the government can exercise these powers to seize private property for major infrastructure improvement projects (such as a highway). OGV is a private developer that has no power to exercise eminent domain. Residents are by no means under any obligation to enter into sales agreements with OGV and should report these types of threats to their elected officials and/or the police, especially if they feel they are being harassed.
  3. We in the Oakland community believe that development should comply with existing zoning and occur through a broad-based community process engaging Oakland Planning and Development Corporation and Oakland residents whereby the community feedback is reflected in changes to development proposals. Sustainable and beneficial community development projects do not include the rezoning of residential areas.

Take Action Now

This is not a done deal. Go to www.opdc.org/meetings to learn about your local community groups, and voice your concerns to:

Mayor William Peduto

Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Kevin Acklin

Council President Bruce Kraus

Councilman Daniel Lavelle

Councilman Daniel Gilman

PA Representative Jake Wheatley

PA Representative Dan Frankel

PA Senator Jay Costa

7 Responses to Take action now: Tell your elected officials you oppose the Oakland Gateway Ventures Bates Street project

  1. Paul Surgent February 14, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

    I am shocked that the community has no say in this project, someone got some extra money for pushing this thru , almost like that Lamar sign deal on the Greyhound Station downtown , I think we should set up an open flea market under those trees and more , use the space , show the city it is more than just trees and grass

    • Rebekkah Ranallo February 14, 2017 at 3:56 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, Paul. It’s important to note that this project has NOT yet been approved. We need folks like you to contact your elected officials to make sure it stays that way. Please see the list of elected officials at the bottom of the article for contact information. Call us at 412.621.7863 ext. 15 for more information.

  2. Paul Surgent February 14, 2017 at 4:01 pm #

    And a garage on Bates Street hill , that is crazy , the traffic is a nightmare as it is now , the Parkway does not work at rush hours and Bates is one of the main ways to the hospitals and universities , I am still hoping for the Mon Valley Expressway to bypass the Sq. Hill tunnels , all the other segments are done , it is just the republicans punishing Pittsburgh

    • Gary Denese February 14, 2017 at 8:43 pm #

      Punishing Pittsburgh for what, Paul? Do you know for sure what is the political affiliation of these developers?

  3. Gary Denese February 14, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

    It would be at least kind of helpful if OPDC could acquire an artist’s rendering of the projects from OGV.

    Also, residents who were threatened with eminent domain acquisition of their property might also want to consider filing a complaint with the county district attorney’s office here: http://alleghenycountyda.us/complaint-form/

  4. robert February 15, 2017 at 4:42 pm #

    Being a stakeholder in this specific area, I have reviewed and talked with members of OGV about the project. Correct me if I am wrong, but the state department is in collaboration with this planning. The plans that we discussed would widen Bates at the state route part to alleviate the already intolerable traffic that exists. Lawn at Niagara would be connected at the top for a much needed through-way that now isolates the Bates hollow. Nothing about this was mentioned in your write-up?

    The Bates Street house I own was one of the first I ever bought and renovated. I lived there for a number of years, so I’m not just some speculator. I have pictures of it dating back to the early 1900s when Bates was reconstructed the first time. Unfortunately this isn’t 1918 anymore, and Bates as it exists now is beyond outdated. Times have changed!

    Now, there are two options here for me. Sell to OGV for far more than my crooked, hillside structures are worth, or just wait for the state dept to come through with plans to widen Bates, and give me a pittance for them through eminent domain. Bates is getting plowed under one way or another, it might as well at least have some economic benefit.

    I’ve worked hard for many years, and wish divest some of my holdings. The price I am offered by OGV for my properties in this area would be a huge financial boon for myself and my family. I am letting it be known, that as a private property owner in this specific area, I do not agree with your stance on the negative impacts. Thwarting the project for sentimental reasons negatively affects me as a property owner, and still leaves me open to eminent domain anyway. Please consider the fact that some of us would rather sell now, and sell high, rather than be subject to eminent domain for whatever future roadway improvements may come.

    There is not one single permanent resident on 885 part of Bates Street, so no one is being displaced. There are only a couple permanent residents in the hollow and I know everyone back there. I am not sure who you are speaking for in that area, but it can’t be very many people.

    • Rebekkah Ranallo February 21, 2017 at 3:23 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Robert. We of course welcome everyone’s input. First, we’re not aware of any formal support of this project by any public agency. Second, our position on this project is based on the consensus that the Coalition of Oakland Residents reached to oppose the project, which they and we believe is not the right proposal for this area, especially considering the nonconformity to zoning which we outline in our position. A development of this scale has major implications for everyone in the surrounding areas from Coltart Avenue to Juliet Street to the people in Oakcliffe who’d have the proposed parking garage sitting in their backyards. We’re firm in our position that developers should engage with the local community to bring developments that conform to zoning requirements and the neighborhood’s master plan and we welcome a modified proposal from OGV that meets these guidelines. Lastly, if you’re not involved with your local neighborhood group, we encourage you to check out http://www.opdc.org/meetings and attend a meeting or reach out to the group that represents your part of Bates Street, presumably the South Oakland Neighborhood Group. It is these groups who form the membership of Coalition of Oakland Residents. Thanks again and don’t hesitate to contact our office directly should you have further concerns about this or any other issue. 412.621.7863 ext. 15

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