Hill House Economic Development Corporation celebrates opening of grocery store and retail complex

Long-awaited Centre Heldman Plaza opens with community celebration and appreciation

Oct 15, 2013, 13:50 ET from Hill House Association

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --


Thursday, October 17, 2013

8:45 AM Media Tours and Photo Opportunities of Centre Heldman Plaza

10:00 AM Press Conference


Centre Heldman Plaza

1850 Centre Avenue

Pittsburgh PA 15219


Jeffrey Anderson, Chief Operating Officer

Hill House Economic Development Corporation & Hill House Association


412-392-4474 telephone

The Hill House Economic Development Corporation (HHEDC), a 501 (c) (3) community development organization and the Hill House Association (HHA), its parent organization and affiliate, announce a press conference and celebration to mark the opening of the Centre Heldman Plaza.  Sitting upon a 2.4 acre site, the Plaza is anchored by Shop 'n Save, a 29,500 square-foot, full-service grocery store. Centre Heldman Plaza has been under construction since early 2011.  The Plaza is an integral part of the new Centre Avenue corridor, supplying permanent employment, services for residents and the first full-service grocery store in the Hill District for over 30 years.  Once considered a "food desert," the Hill District no longer carries this label and the opening of the Shop 'n Save marks a new beginning of access to fresh and nutritious food for the neighborhood.

Media Tours of New Complex
Prior to the press conference, tours for the media and other interested parties will start at 8:45 am.  Groups will be guided by individuals close to the construction project and will be available to answer questions. 

Community Partnerships Create Synergies
The project has been underway since early 2011 and took exceptional efforts and planning to be completed.  Corporate and foundation support, as well as community partnerships, were a fundamental part of the complex financing package.

Cheryl Hall-Russell, President and CEO of the Hill House Association and the Hill House Economic Development Corporation states, "After nearly three decades, the community and region formed partnerships to make Centre Heldman Plaza a reality.  It has taken many hours and a high degree of commitment from those who understand the dynamics of such a project and the ultimate economic spur created by the completion of this complex." 

Hall-Russell continues, "Today is a day of celebration to mark an extraordinary accomplishment that is a true demonstration of infectious cooperation, tempered with a dash of entrepreneurial spirit and rounded out with an increased emphasis on partnerships and synergies.  It also brings an end to the designation of the Hill District as a food desert, a time when seniors could not buy fresh food conveniently and young people lacked access to nutritious meals.  We are here to celebrate the new beginning of economic catalysts that offer great possibilities. The Hill House is proud to be a significant part of the partnerships that have created these economic engines."    

Michael Jasper, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Hill House Association and Senior Pastor Brian Edmonds of the Macedonia Church of Pittsburgh will open the press conference.  He will be followed by Cheryl Hall-Russell, Mary Ann Eisenreich, Director, Southwest PA Governor's Office at the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Jake Wheatley, Junior, Pennsylvania State Representative, 19th Legislative District,  Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive, City of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Daniel Lavelle, City of Pittsburgh Councilman, District 6, Carl Redwood, Junior, Co-Director of the Hill District Consensus Group, Jeff Ross, Shop 'n Save owner and Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Hefflin, long-time residents of the Hill District. Mr. Bob Starzynski, Chairman of the Board of the Hill House Economic Development Corporation will close the program by announcing the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Governor Tom Corbett offers, "My administration is proud to have contributed to the completion of this historic project for the community.  The residents of the Hill District have been without a grocery store for 30 years and that ends today.  Congratulations to Shop 'n Save and to all the partners involved in this effort."

The Hill District has recently enjoyed ongoing residential revitalization, but lacked a focus on commercialization to provide convenient retail services, such as a supermarket, pharmacy, and restaurants.  Key neighborhood stakeholders, foundations, the county and the city, local organizations, nonprofits and private enterprises partnered on the project for the most positive outcome.

Dr. Bonnie Laing, Co-Director of the Hill District Consensus Group remarks, "Centre Heldman Plaza and its anchor grocery store are the culmination of almost a decade of hard work, planning and commitment by the community and its external stakeholders.  It is a visible sign that collective action pays off.  The Hill House Association took a major risk in stepping up to lead this project and we hope the community appreciates this risk and fully supports the store.  It will be exciting to see friends and neighbors shop there as well as work there.  We know the union is already working closely with the store owner to ensure employees are receiving wages that will help them thrive.  We offer our congratulations to the whole Hill District community and to the Hill House Economic Development Corporation in particular."

Additionally, The First Source Center (FSC), a regional resource for workforce development and an outgrowth of the Community Benefits Agreement, operating under the auspices of the Hill House Association has played a key role in matching Hill District residents with employment at the Shop 'n Save.  FSC offers job counseling, job placement, training assistance and career development for the area's unemployed and underemployed.

The 12.5 million dollar project is anchored by a new full-service Shop 'n Save and is owned and operated by Ross Markets, whose principal, Jeff Ross, collaborated with numerous community and business organizations to bring the project to completion.

Mr. Ross states, "It is great to see the store humming with people as we prepare for the grand opening.  We understand how important it is to have a full-service store that provides fresh food to the Hill District community. We also recognize the need to create an economic impact for the community. To that end, almost 65 percent of all of the 100 plus new employees are Hill District residents.  Almost 95 percent of the entire workforce is minority.  Many of these individuals have not had prior experience and we are spending all the time necessary to train them to ensure their success.  We cannot thank the Hill House First Source Center enough for helping with the hiring process from applications to interviews.  It's been a great process."                                       

Mr. Bob Starzynski, the Chairman of the Board of the Hill House Economic Development Corporation notes, "For the first time in more than three decades, the residents of the Hill District community are able to do their grocery shopping without leaving the neighborhood.  Just as importantly, the grocery store serves as a cornerstone for greater economic revitalization of this corridor."

An additional 6,900 square feet in the Plaza have been reserved for retail services and are adjacent to the Shop 'n Save.  Leasing these adjoining spaces are Dollar Bank, Nationwide Insurance, Crazy Mocha Coffee, Subway and Cricket Communications.  Centre Heldman Plaza represents the latest commercial real estate expansion in the Hill District since the opening of the Consol Energy Center in 2010. The new retail outlets are expected to propel a revitalization of the Centre Avenue corridor.  Contracts are in place for each retail space and the five retailers are expected to be open for business by early 2014.

Ceremonial Ribbon-Cutting to Take Place with Hill District Residents
A ceremonial ribbon-cutting will take place immediately after the closing remarks and prior to the official store opening.  Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Hefflin and Ms. Lillian Allen, 105-years-young and a lifelong resident of the Hill District will be performing the honors of cutting the opening-day ribbon.

Pat Hefflin remarks, "Our time is now." Her husband, Clyde Hefflin observes, "The store can jump start economic development in the Hill.  One store. One step at a time."

Ms. Allen comments, "As a longtime resident of the Hill District, I owned and operated my own business for 50 years.  As a senior citizen of 105, I have seen the Hill District at its low point and now it shines brightly.  I am honored to cut the ribbon, symbolizing a new day for Hill District residents and businesses."

Community Day Celebration
The Hill House Economic Development Corporation is hosting a Community Day in celebration of the opening of Centre Heldman Plaza on Saturday, October 19, 2013.  Centre Avenue will be blocked off for the festivities beginning at 11:00 am and ending at 4:00 pm. The celebration will feature performers and entertainment, a children's activity area, games, health and wellness screenings and refreshments.  The public is welcome. 

Hill House Association is a comprehensive community service provider and facilitator that meets the needs of Hill District residents and diverse constituents in the Greater Pittsburgh region.

Agency Overview
The Hill House Association is an independent, nonprofit organization offering a wide range of programs and services to Pittsburgh's Hill District community and surrounding areas.  Through its unique, multi-generational service model, dedicated staff, and redevelopment efforts, the Hill House continues to positively impact the futures of the residents and communities it serves.

SOURCE Hill House Association