RIDC Park West Groundbreaking
Pictured (from left to right): Brooks Robinson Sr., 3rd RIDC President; Odey Mackin, Mackin Engineering; Leon “Lee” Gevaudan, RIDC Engineer; Dean Baker, RIDC Architect; and John Lastooka, Ram Construction, the contractor.
Leon “Lee” Gevaudan brought to the table a vast well of civil engineering knowledge and was the kind of nuts-and-bolts, bricks-and-mortar guy that has been invaluable on numerous industrial park and building revitalization projects throughout the Regional Industrial Development Corporation’s history, bringing its vision and mission to life for 55 years.
His work has touched just about every one of our properties in some way.
Lee started working for RIDC in 1967, after earning a degree at the University of Pittsburgh in civil engineering and working on development projects for the Incirlik Airforce Base in Turkey. RIDC had just added “SWPA” to its name.
He was the planning engineer for the RIDC’s first development project, RIDC Park in O’Hara Township, which continues to thrive after 55 years. The property was once a 700-acre farm managed by Allegheny County Workhouse prisoners, and one of the first planned industrial parks in the country.
Lee has been an integral problem solver across numerous projects, working out thorny challenges with zoning, permitting, utilities, and other issues when developing the Meadow Ridge, Thorn Hill and Park West industrial parks.
“Park West was the most challenging,” Lee said. “We had to construct an access road to get to the top of the hill and build roads and bring in utilities because there were none. We even had to build a bridge so that we could get construction vehicles across a stream.”
And when large steel mill and industrial sites began to shutter in the 1970s and 1980s—and RIDC’s focus shifted from developing greenfield sites to redeveloping abandoned brownfields, Lee was a part of the team handling the remediation and construction work of the historic properties that became RIDC Keystone Commons, the Industrial Center of McKeesport, and the City Center of Duquesne. He also had a hand in some of the environmental clean-up of RIDC Mill 19.
“While RIDC’s decision-making and advocacy has played such an integral, forward-moving role in Pittsburgh’s commercial real estate and economic development history, its RIDC employees like Lee who are getting the work done, sleeves rolled up and digging in the trenches,” said RIDC President Don Smith. “Thank you, Lee, for your 55 years of service.”
Lee is enjoying his retirement in Maine with his wife.