Economic Development and Urban Design Studies

City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning

Pittsburgh, PA

On Behalf the Department of City Planning, the City of Pittsburgh Office of Management & Budget Presents

Request for Proposals for Oakland Economic Development and Design Studies (RFP 18000692)

Review the Full RFP at:

1.1 Background

The Neighborhood Planning Program at the City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning (DCP) empowers Pittsburgh communities to develop a shared vision for their future and identify strategies to collectively realize that vision. Following four neighborhood planning efforts in underserved areas, the Department of City Planning will start its next phase of neighborhood plans with the Hill District and Oakland. A major focus of these projects will be to identify opportunities for economic development and improve access to the innovation economy by increasing linkages between Oakland and adjacent communities like the Hill District.

Pittsburgh's Oakland is composed of four city-designated neighborhoods: West Oakland, North Oakland, Central Oakland and South Oakland. The district these four neighborhoods form possesses an unparalleled combination of academic, medical, and cultural institutions surrounded by a vibrant residential community. Oakland's academic institutions are also major employers and generators of economic activity throughout Western Pennsylvania including the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and Carlow University. Oakland has an extraordinary complement of cultural institutions including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Hall, the main branch of the Carnegie Library, and the nearby Phipps Conservatory. Activity extends to the riverfront portions of Oakland, where the Pittsburgh Technology Center continues to grow and add office and R&D buildings as well as parking, hospitality and other uses. Finally, the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are completing design and moving forward with construction of a Bus Rapid Transit system that will better connect downtown and Oakland with the East End and nearby municipalities via electric vehicle buses in designated bus-only lanes that will reduce travel times and bring other streetscape improvements including physically separated bike lanes, street trees, and stormwater infrastructure to the Fifth and Forbes Avenue corridor. A separate $4 million join City of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Complete Streets project will rebuild Bigelow Boulevard between Fifth and Forbes Avenues in Oakland improving the public realm with pedestrian and bike safety improvements along with stormwater systems.

By the numbers the Oakland's four neighborhoods are spread across 962 acres with 80,000 employees, 22,000 residents, and 45,000 students. The University of Pittsburgh is one the country's top research universities with $750 million in federal research grants alone. Carnegie Mellon University has long been an international leader in computer science and robotics with research centers, institutes and spinoff companies located throughout the city. The endowments of these two universities alone total $5 billion. A 2017 Brookings Institute report highlighted the potential for Oakland to become a global innovation hub, while also recognizing the many issues to be addressed before that potential can be realized and before it would lead to widespread workforce benefits for Pittsburgh. Oakland has always been home to multiple residential communities providing housing for a diverse group of Pittsburghers. Recent discussions in Oakland have revealed an alignment between the universities, healthcare providers, and the residential community around increasing the district's supply of affordable housing for long-term residents including faculty and staff, as well as students. Oakland could also benefit from lessons learned from anchor districts in other cities where highly productive district governance has resulted in pooling resources and focusing them on investments with collective benefits.

DCP is currently working to establish the conditions for a successful planning process in Oakland. The planning work will focus on economic development, livability and sustainability. Important to this work is developing a thorough understanding of the existing conditions in Oakland. Consultants will complete two interrelated products in support of the Oakland Plan process and answer at least the following questions.

  1. Economic Development Study – What is happening today in Oakland's market, what is the development potential under existing conditions, what are challenges to realizing economic and community development opportunities (e.g., housing affordability, workforce training, supporting local entrepreneurship), and what trends locally, regionally and nationally/internationally are likely to shape Oakland's development over the next 10 years?
  2. Urban Design Study – What is the existing and potential urban character of Oakland and its subareas, how do recent and planned building projects contribute to this character, and how can future development enhance characteristics recognized nationally and internationally as supportive of healthy, walkable, and sustainable communities?

The initial draft studies should be completed in the first six months of the contract and will be used to guide discussions with stakeholders during the planning process. The contract will extend over the two-year planning process, so the draft studies can be amended based on input from planning discussions. The specific scope of work is detailed in later sections of this RFP. Applicants are advised to respond showing clearly how the team's expertise will allow them to be successful in generating the studies.

Commensurate with the importance of this district to City and regional economic development and workforce priorities, the program of work has been funded for up to $250,000.00. DCP may choose to amend the end date and value of the contract should further services be needed during the planning process.

The program of work calls for firms with expertise in urban design, economics, and data analysis and the ability to integrate these topics in practical, implementable ways. Firms should demonstrate experience effectively integrating design and function in the public right of way including the interface of buildings and the right-of-way. All firms should provide examples of work on similar projects that include relevant analyses and recommendations to municipal planning or economic development departments.

1.2 Scope Detail

The tasks described below are intended to be completed in collaboration. For example, elements in the Economic Development Study such as the soft site and development capacity analysis will require involvement from the urban design consultants. Proposals should creatively integrate staff and/or teams to create synergies that enhance the two studies and creatively add value to the planning process. Proposals should clearly identify proposed research methods (e.g., data services, interviews, site surveys, etc.) and assume that basic publicly available data can be provided by City departments including DCP, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, and the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (see "DCP GIS Data" in the appendices). These tasks should be informed by existing plans and initiatives at the citywide, neighborhood, and institutional levels, as well as a wealth of data and studies available for Oakland and the greater innovation corridor.

Task 1: Economic Development Study

The applicant(s) should use their expertise to develop a cohesive product that will establish a firm basis for new City policy and regulatory approaches. The product should answer questions about the existing conditions such as: What is happening today in Oakland's market? What is the development potential under existing conditions? What are challenges to realizing economic and community development opportunities (e.g., regional access, housing affordability, workforce training, role of chain vs. local commercial, etc.)? What trends locally, regionally and nationally/internationally are likely to shape Oakland's development over the next 10 years? To answer these questions, the consultant will need to undertake research on at least the following topics:

  1. Conduct interviews with those who have led recent planning efforts in Oakland and the local trade area and then collect existing data such as Esri Business Analyst Online, Retail MarketPlace Profile and Tapestry Segmentation as well as data related to housing affordability while avoiding duplication;
  2. Determine current and future demand, lease rates and overall mix for residential, commercial, R&D, institutional, retail, etc. including comparison to other competitive areas of Pittsburgh and peer anchor districts/innovation districts;
  3. Space availability (residential, commercial, R&D, institutional, retail, etc.). Profile tenants and their needs for both residential and non-residential spaces;
  4. Building types, condition, potential uses/format, height, site coverage, setbacks, building materials/façades, building amenities – for existing buildings and new construction;
  5. Conduct soft site analysis and estimate potential development capacity of the district based on existing Zoning;
  6. Detail recent site assembly activities and issues;
  7. Characterize public vs. private property ownership and property tax revenues under existing conditions as well as potential build out of the district;
  8. Characterize the state of business supportive services such as the transportation system and transit services, freight and loading access, data and energy infrastructure, etc. and identify how existing conditions may negatively impact growth and development; and
  9. Make recommendations to the City and other stakeholders for addressing residential and commercial growth needs in the next 10 years through regulations, incentives, and other programs across the range of topics included in the above existing conditions research. Provide economic development, workforce development, and residential and commercial affordability case studies to show successful approaches in other cities consistent with ongoing efforts in Pittsburgh.

Task 2: Urban Design Study

The Urban Design Study will lay the groundwork for understanding building typologies and subareas with distinct urban forms. This will be used in the planning process and in potential Zoning Code projects such as the creation of new temporary land use regulations (e.g., Interim Planning Overlay District) or permanent zoning following the planning process. The resulting product should answer questions such as: What is the existing and potential urban character of Oakland and its subareas? How do recent and planned building projects contribute to this character? How can future development enhance characteristics recognized nationally and internationally as supportive of healthy, walkable, and sustainable communities? To answer these questions, the consultant will need to undertake research on at least the following topics:

  1. Block patterns, block size, parcel characteristics, predominant building height by block and parcel. These characteristics should be compared to other areas of the city such as the Strip District, Downtown, and Uptown;
  2. What portions of blocks are built (covered by buildings) or unbuilt and how does this compare to other areas of the city. Characterize the unbuilt areas (e.g., permeable, vegetated, parking, etc.);
  3. Identify distinct design subdistricts based on characteristics identified by the project team (e.g., common construction eras, building typologies, etc.) and also identify buildings with designs that are important architecturally due to the architect, style, era, or other historic reason;
  4. Study how building form, height, age, and massing relate to current uses;
  5. Characterize existing open spaces, how development engages and activates these spaces (or not), and review recommendations from the City's Open Space PGH Plan to propose future open space opportunities of varying sizes and types; and
  6. Characterize at least the following streets in terms of their street mix (sidewalk, furnishing zone, lane widths, access points for loading, parking, or other transportation uses, etc.), street width-to-building height ratios, ground floor character/uses, and streetscape amenities (trees, furniture, bike racks, bus shelters, bikeshare, etc.): Fifth Ave, Forbes Ave, Blvd of the Allies, Bates Street, N Craig St, Center Ave, Baum Blvd, Bouquet St, Oakland Ave, Atwood St, Meyran Ave, McKee Pl, Coltart Ave, Halket St., Darragh St, Chesterfield St, Terrace St, Robinson St, Melwood Ave, and Bayard/Bigelow/O'Hara; and
  7. Make recommendations to staff for regulations, incentives, and other programs that will enable future development to enhance characteristics that are nationally and internationally recognized as being supportive of healthy, walkable, and sustainable communities. Recommend best practices in managing interfaces between buildings and the public realm and interfaces between different users of the public realm (e.g., sidewalk cafes, pedestrians, bicyclists, cars, etc.). Also recommend strategies for integrating design features and materials that are either innovative or represent Pittsburgh's identity/heritage.

Request Type
Friday, January 18, 2019