Riverfront 47 consists of 47 acres along the Allegheny River, stretching through the three municipalities of Sharpsburg, O’Hara and Aspinwall. It was owned by AZCON Corporation and used as a scrapyard for over 80 years. When AZCON Scrap decided to divest its business and sell its real estate, Susan Crookston spent a year trying to convince Aspinwall Riverfront Park, other nonprofits and the foundation community to purchase the property. There are several reasons this failed: (1) no one knew what environmental problems the site had (if any) (2) estimates to maintain the property wholly as a park exceeded $500,000 annually, and (3) Sharpsburg and Aspinwall depended on the tax revenue generated from the site.
Realizing that the property could fall into the hands of people not as conscientious of the impact to the community, and having not found another party willing to take the risk, the Crookstons pulled personal savings and resources together (without knowing the environmental condition of the land) to secure the property in order to further the trail system and ensure that Aspinwall Riverfront Park was protected from a potential neighbor that might contend that they have easement rights to take traffic directly through the middle of the Park. After vetting many developers, the Crookstons were introduced to The Mosites Company by the Heinz Endowment who recommended them for their community values and thoughtful development in East Liberty.
The Riverfront 47 development team is made up of The Mosites Company (TMC) and Allegheny Development Partners (ADP).
Steven Mosites, Jr. founded The Mosites Company. Among their many accolades, TMC has won an Urban Land Institute’s Award for Excellence (the equivalent of an Oscar) for the Western Hemisphere. The Mosites company is successful because of their emphasis on building partnerships with local stakeholders and an approach that focuses on win win solutions.
Mark Minnerly has worked for TMC for 17 years and prior to that spent 20 years in nonprofit community development. He is one of a handful of people chosen by the Heinz Endowments to be on the P4 steering committee, and is an adjunct professor at CMU.
Chris Minnerly was the lead architect of Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes, a living building, one of the first of its kind in the world to reach this highest of environmental standards.
ADP was created by 17-year Aspinwall residents Susan and Currie Crookston to ensure the thoughtful development of our riverfront. Formerly president of the Community Trails Initiative and Fox Chapel District Association, Susan Crookston has spent most of her life volunteering and has received an award for humanitarian service given at Congress. She thought of the idea for Aspinwall Riverfront Park and quit her job for a year to get the project off of the ground. Currie Crookston is a disabled veteran who spent 10 years as a Navy SEAL. An entrepreneur, he has several patents and has created a number of businesses.
Aspinwall Riverfront Park was built thanks to the initiative and generosity of many many people in our broader community. The Crookstons have lead the development of the Park , which is rated by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as one of the top 5 parks to see in the region. Since its inception, the Park has received $3,500 of Aspinwall’s tax dollars and has brought more than $10 million of investment into our community.
Overland Partners, the master planner of the development, are widely regarded as one of the best environmental firms in the world. They’ve designed the plans for a world heritage site and were awarded ‘building of the decade” for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.