By Ralph Iannotti

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The demolition of Penn Circle Towers and nearby housing projects was a key part of the planned revitalization of the East Liberty neighborhood.

The transition is already taking shape on Penn Avenue where there are now upscale stores on one side of Penn Avenue, while many older stores on the other side of the street are no longer in business.

It’s all part of the plans for this up-and-coming neighborhood; combined with affordable housing plans for many of the hundreds of residents who were displaced.

But, on Monday night, people gathered at a neighborhood church for the second public hearing on LG Realty’s plan to redevelopment the neighborhood.

Protestors chanted: “No plan about us, without us.”

east liberty gentrification protest East Liberty Luxury Redevelopment Plans Come Under Fire

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Affordable housing was very much on their minds.

“This is part of a gentrification process where we see evictions and rents rising, but it’s also tied to the fact that people in theses communities are seeing low-wage jobs and horrible working conditions,” said one of the protestors.

Former Pittsburgh School Board member Randall Taylor said, “We’re here today to call on the city and call on the mayor to reject the proposal for luxury retail and office space at the site of the former Penn Plaza Apartments. We’re calling that because the proposal is ridiculous in a city and in a community that already has vacant retail and office space.”

A lawyer representing the developer said affordable housing was a major commitment on the part of LG Realty.

“As part of the project, we will go ahead and pay full taxes on the end development, and that money will be used to go ahead and fund the gap to help projects happen in the immediate neighborhood,” attorney Jonathan Kamin said.

The City Planning Commission is expected to vote on the LG Realty proposal when it meets next month.

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