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May 9, 1996

Compromise on Burger King site = park + parking

Approximately 16 metered parking spaces are being added to plans for the former Burger King/Pitt Tavern site along Fifth Avenue between Oakland Avenue and Bouquet Street.

In January, the University announced plans to turn the entire site into a mini-park while considering future development possibilities that could include student housing.

According to Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Management Tom Hussey, the change is part of an agreement Pitt struck with the city in return for its approval of a 30-day test closing of Bigelow Boulevard between the Cathedral of Learning and the William Pitt Union.

During meetings in April on the Bigelow test, City Council member Bob O'Connor had suggested turning the entire Burger King/Pitt Tavern site into parking to replace spaces that would be lost because of the closing. No public action was taken on his suggestion at that time.

Since the revised design has not been completed, Hussey could not provide details on the changes. He said, however, that the portion of the site bordering on Fifth Avenue will still be developed as a mini-park with grass, benches, lighting, trees and a new sidewalk.

Parking on the site will be restricted to 16 or 17 spaces at the rear of the lot, on the alley that runs between Bouquet Street and Oakland Avenue. The spaces will make up for parking that will be lost on Bouquet because of traffic being rerouted during the test closing of Bigelow.

"That site is about 140 feet deep," said Hussey. "The first 80 feet will continue as a park as originally planned, the last 60 feet closest to the buildings will be parking." Although the change was part of a deal approving the test closing of Bigelow, it still has to be approved by the City Planning Department and City Planning Commission. Hussey said Facilities Management expects to have a design completed by the end of the week and will submit it to the Planning Department as soon as possible.

Pitt's Director of Local Relations Jay Roling said he expects the Planning Commission to address the issue at either its July 9 or July 23 meeting.

If the plan is approved by the Planning Commission, Roling said the parking spaces will be available in time for the test closing of Bigelow in mid September or early October.

–Mike Sajna

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