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Derrick Tillman completes Miller Street Apartments in Hill District

NEW PITTSBURGH COURIER — Tillman describes the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit property as an all-electric five-story building designed with exceptional energy efficiency. Of the 36 units, six are handicapped-designed, nine are project-based voucher affiliated and there are eight two-bedroom units. All units are equipped with appliances including washers and dryers. The first floor has a community room and lounge area with a kitchenette, office space for the property management and a concierge desk where residents will receive assistance with resources.

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By Diane I. Daniels

May 16 was a great day for Derrick Tillman, president and CEO of Bridging the Gap Development, LLC. One of his many dreams became a reality. The ribbon-cutting ceremony of the 36-unit Miller Street Apartments took place.

Four years ago, he began the development process for the venture and this week, tenants began moving into 328 Miller Street, a $12 million project. “We are changing the face of and raising the bar of affordable housing,” said Tillman as investors, Hill District partners, community supporters and well-wishers witnessed what he considered a historical moment.

Tillman describes the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit property as an all-electric five-story building designed with exceptional energy efficiency. Of the 36 units, six are handicapped-designed, nine are project-based voucher affiliated and there are eight two-bedroom units. All units are equipped with appliances including washers and dryers. The first floor has a community room and lounge area with a kitchenette, office space for the property management and a concierge desk where residents will receive assistance with resources.

“We need more developers like Derrick to be able to flourish in our city. It is great to see such a successful affordable housing project that is not only about the structure but also about the people inside,” commented Pittsburgh Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle during the event. “It is also great that he was able to achieve the levels of minority participation on the development at a level of 45 percent when the city only requires 18 percent. He has exceeded standards. So not only is he developing housing, but he is developing people.”

Along with Tillman’s wife, Nykia, and other family members, officials participating in the ribbon-cutting included state Rep. Jake Wheatley, Chief of Staff Dan Gilman representing the mayor’s office, Diamonte Walker of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, Lisa Kelly of First National Bank, Marimba Milliones of the Hill District Community Development Corporation and Bob Meeder of the Energy Innovation Center.

In addition to the architecture and intentional energy efficiency initiative, Tillman and his team have raised the bar for tenants in affordable housing by partnering with leading community organizations to offer a variety of services to the tenants. “We are providing residents with top-class housing and services to aid them in advancing the quality of their lives.”

Services include a trauma center in conjunction with F.O.C.U.S. Pittsburgh, aiding residents in overcoming obstacles that have the potential to present a hindrance for a quality of life, and a speaker series offering insight in various areas of expertise providing motivation and inspiration. CORO Pittsburgh will provide leadership classes providing opportunities to build on essential qualities to advance in their careers and personal goals. The Energy Innovation Center will provide job- and career-readiness training for tenants to aid them in obtaining steady income in an effort to help them advance to the next level financially. Also, financial expert Tayon Mitchell will provide financial literacy classes demonstrating how to better manage finances and begin to build long-term financial goals.

Raised by a single mother in Section 8 housing, Tillman says he knows firsthand what it is like to be displaced. A Westinghouse High School graduate, he recalls as a child his family moving from residence to residence. “We lived all over the area,” he said, recalling his time in Rankin, Wilkinsburg, Homewood, East Liberty and the Hill District. Today, he is committed to bettering the lives of others who’ve had similar experiences.

The Miller Street project not only provides housing and opportunity but possesses historical significance. “Here, we are located on holy ground,” he affirms, standing in the building entrance pointing to two plaques mounted on the wall. Formerly 318 Miller Street, the building was built in 1916 by the local branches of the International Jewish Fraternal Organization. In partnership with other groups, it was founded as the Labor Lyceum Inc., and was used as a center for Jewish labor activities. It is known as the first White-owned organization in Pittsburgh to rent to African American organizations.

Second, the building served as the First Church of God in Christ affiliated church in Pittsburgh founded by Bishop C. H. Mason in 1921. He is also credited as the founding father of the Church of God in Christ in the 1900s, headquartered in Memphis. Representatives from both the Labor Lyceum Inc. and Church of God in Christ attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

A diversified real estate development firm founded in 2006, Tilman says Bridging the Gap Development is committed to excellence in everything they do. Its mission is to rebuild sustainable communities through residential and commercial development by bridging real estate and opportunity gaps.

Tillman said Bridging the Gap Development has developed a variety of properties, including multi-family affordable housing, market-rate rental and homeownership properties, as well as mixed-use and commercial development projects.

With over 15 years of experience in real estate development, commercial brokerage and leasing, real estate sales and acquisition, real estate negotiations, real estate rehabbing, property management, business management, restaurant management and operations, marketing and consulting, Tillman is looking forward to a bright and positive future.

So, what’s next for Tillman? Working in partnership with two Hill District nonprofit entities (Amani Christian Community Development and the Macedonia Development Corporation) was his answer, to develop 22 single-family townhouses throughout the Hill.

Leaning on his faith, his goal is to continue to be patient and go where God leads him, believing that his dreams to produce major rehab and new construction projects in his hometown and other states while continuously helping others will become a reality.

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This article originally appeared in the New Pittsburgh Courier

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Activism

Call to Protect Geoffrey’s Inner Circle from Threatened High-Rise Development

Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St., is part of the city’s Black Arts Movement and Business District which was formed in 2016 by reso-lution of the Oakland City Council to protect Black-owned businesses and enhance a downtown district that would encourage the historic African American legacy and cul-ture of Oakland.

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By Ken Epstein

Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, a downtown Oakland Cultural Center that has featured live jazz and served music lovers and the Black community for decades, is now under threat from a proposed real estate development that could undermine the stability and future of the facility.

Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St., is part of the city’s Black Arts Movement and Business District which was formed in 2016 by resolution of the Oakland City Council to protect Black-owned businesses and enhance a downtown district that would encourage the historic African American legacy and culture of Oakland.

Now, the Oakland Planning Commission is considering a high-rise building proposed by out-of-town developers next to Geoffrey’s, which would jeopardize both the survival of the venue and the Black business district as a whole.

In addition to running a business that has been a crucial institution in the local community and the regional arts scene, Geoffrey Pete, founder, has utilized his business to offer meals for thousands of unsheltered individuals and hosted countless community events.

The following petition is being circulated in defense of Geoffrey’s and the Black Arts district (To add your name to the petition, email info@geoffreyslive.com):

“The African-American community in Oakland has been seriously damaged by developers and public offcials who are willing and sometimes eager to see African Americans disappear from the city. Black people comprised 47% of the population in 1980; now they make up only 20% of said population. In response to this crisis the 14th Street Corridor from Oak to the 880 Frontage Road was established as the Black Arts Movement and Business District by the City Council on Jan. 7, 2016, in Resolution 85958.

Tidewater, an out-of-town developer, is proposing to build a high-rise building at 1431 Franklin, which will damage the Black business district and the businesses in the area including the iconic business of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle at 410 – 14th St.

We demand that the Planning Commission and the City Council reject this predatory building proposal and proceed with plans to fund and enhance the Black Business District.”

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Bay Area

IRS Extends Filing Dates in Counties Under Federal Emergency Declarations

The announcement affects residents in Alameda, Marin, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Monterey, Napa, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties, the IRS said.

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Eligible taxpayers will also have until May 15 to make 2022 contributions to their IRAs and health savings accounts.
Eligible taxpayers will also have until May 15 to make 2022 contributions to their IRAs and health savings accounts.

By Katy St. Clair, Bay City News Foundation

The Internal Revenue Service has extended its annual tax return due date by a month for people who live in areas impacted by the recent storms, the IRS announced on Tuesday.

California storm victims now have until May 15 to file their individual or business taxes if their area was declared an emergency by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The announcement affects residents in Alameda, Marin, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Monterey, Napa, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties, the IRS said. A full list of counties can be found at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-relief-in-disaster-situations.

Eligible taxpayers will also have until May 15 to make 2022 contributions to their IRAs and health savings accounts.

Taxpayers will not have to do anything to initiate the extension, the IRS said, and do not have to contact the agency to get this relief.

Some other extensions are being granted to farmers, those who pay quarterly estimated payments, and those who pay quarterly payroll and excise taxes. To learn more, go to irs.gov.

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Bay Area

City Fails to Win $182 Million Federal Grant for Oakland A’s Howard Terminal Project

Opponents said the lack of a recommendation by the U.S. Department of Transportation “shows the lack of credibility — likely based on concerns over safety, economic viability, disruptions to port traffic and supply chains, echoed by maritime stakeholders — for the future of the project with key public transportation and political stakeholders that should prompt an overall re-evaluation.”

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A city document suggests $600 million will be needed for offsite infrastructure.
A city document suggests $600 million will be needed for offsite infrastructure.

By Keith Burbank | Bay City News

Oakland may miss out on millions of dollars in grant money that could advance the Oakland A’s proposed ballpark at the city’s port.

The U.S. Department of Transportation failed to recommend that Oakland get $182.9 million in the initial round of funding for the city’s Waterfront Mobility Project. Oakland has not received official word that it was denied the grant money.

The city has been securing dollars for the offsite infrastructure needed to support a new ballpark at the Charles P. Howard Terminal.

“While we are disappointed to have not been selected in the first round, we believe we put forward a strong application and are well positioned to secure other funding sources,” said Fred Kelley, director of the Oakland Department of Transportation. “We will continue to pursue other funding sources to ensure our projects have the resources they need.”

Oakland applied for grant money through the Mega Grant Program, which funds “large, complex projects that are difficult to fund by other means and likely to generate national or regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits.”

The ballpark proposed by the Oakland A’s would seat about 35,000 people, and the development overall consists of new housing, parkland, an entertainment venue and commercial space.

Not everyone wants the A’s to build a new park at the Port of Oakland. Groups have come together in opposition, hoping to have the A’s build a new park in East Oakland at the current Oakland Coliseum site.

Groups led by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association sued to stop Oakland from issuing a required environmental impact report for the proposed ballpark.

The opponents said the lack of a recommendation by the U.S. Department of Transportation “shows the lack of credibility — likely based on concerns over safety, economic viability, disruptions to port traffic and supply chains, echoed by maritime stakeholders — for the future of the project with key public transportation and political stakeholders that should prompt an overall re-evaluation.”

A city document suggests $600 million will be needed for offsite infrastructure. The city has secured or is in the process of securing more than $320 million of that money, according to city documents published in December.

Former Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf was a strong supporter of the project.

New Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said at her inauguration Monday that she will work with the Oakland A’s on a deal to keep the team in Oakland while protecting Oakland values.

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