Arnold’s Tea Will Remain Open

Good news about Arnold’s Tea, a local Black owned business that was facing potential eviction and termination of their lease.

First, it is critical to note that 3200+ people signed the Change.org petition to keep Arnold’s Tea open. That’s impressive.


HDDC Board President Barbara Burns and her leadership team should open the books, explain how things broke down, and present a plan to resolve the problem – just like they required of Chef Claudey.


Second, it worked. Arnold’s has been given a reprieve.

Third, some disturbing revelations about the Historic Deutschtown Development Corporation (HDDC) and the Northside Leadership Corporation (NSLC). Most glaringly are the fiscal failures by HDDC to pay their property taxes on the location.

For each of the years 2017 to 2019, 502 East Ohio LP, an entity created by the Historic Deutschtown Development Corp., owes $1,324.40, with a $66.12 penalty listed for this year on the Allegheny County real estate website.

Claudey Pierre bought the Tea business in 2018.

Obviously, his rent delinquency created problems for HDDC’s fiscal bottom line, but there’s a failure by their board that predates Chef Claudey. And that should be a very big concern for the residents of East Allegheny and the general Northside. HDDC Board President Barbara Burns and her leadership team should open the books, explain how things broke down, and present a plan to resolve the problem – just like they required of Chef Claudey.

The stakes are still high – if they don’t pay the property taxes, it doesn’t matter if he’s current on rent or not. They will need a bigger budget occupant of that space to meet their own obligations and potentially undermine the commitment to support Black and woman owned businesses in this corridor. This seems like a pivotal moment in maintaining development momentum while avoiding the pitfalls of gentrification that have destroyed other Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

I’m not saying Burns is solely responsible for the problem, but she is responsible for resolving it. Her longstanding legacy on the Northside only heightens her responsibility to transparency and offering a clear path forward that does not sacrifice the people she serves in this capacity for the sake of the corporate interests she serves.  And by she, I mean the HDDC and NSLC.

I am so glad Arnold’s will remain open and I very much hope Chef Claudey finds the support he deserves to move forward.

I also hope HDDC and NSLC finances are scrutinized clearly to ensure that they are up to the task of overseeing the development without compromising the welfare of the human beings who live here. I’m in no position to judge anyone having debt, but I speak from experience in saying it isn’t easy to dig out of. Too many people are relying on a fair development process to overlook this information.

Other coverage

Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

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