Above: Bill Goodrich in his renovated offices on California Avenue in Brighton Heights. (Photo by Kelsey Shea)
Bill Goodrich felt like he was moving his business home when he made the decision to bring his law firm from Downtown Pittsburgh to California Avenue in Brighton Heights last year.
Similarly, Brighton Heights’ business district felt the impact of its newest neighbor, who made the blocks of California Avenue surrounding his new business location somewhat of a personal project.
Through purchasing and renovating commercial buildings in Brighton Heights, fixing up sidewalks and being involved in the community, Goodrich hopes to be a positive example of how those in the private sector can make a meaningful impact in community development.
“The number of great neighborhoods in the Northside is often ignored,” Goodrich said. “I may be biased, but Brighton Heights is the best neighborhood in the Northside.”
Goodrich has practiced law for over 30 years, and his firm Goodrich and Geist focuses on civil cases in his practice, concentrating on issues such as negligence, civil rights violations and medical malpractice.
According to Goodrich, his law firm is dedicated to helping ordinary people understand their rights and helping them when those rights are in jeopardy.
However on a personal level, renovation and improvement of the neighborhood is high on Goodrich’s priority list.
After Goodrich’s wife introduced him to Brighton Heights a number of years ago, Goodrich bought three properties on California Avenue and renovated and repurposed the buildings.
What was once two empty storefronts and a boarded up house are now the Java N’ Crème House, Timeless Beauty and most recently the new offices of Goodrich and Geist law firm – all staples on California Avenue.
According to Goodrich, Brighton Heights is one of the most accessible neighborhoods in the county. For a lawyer who works cases across the state, he said it is a perfect location for his law firm.
“The building was in deplorable condition,” Goodrich says of his office building, which was a boarded up house months before he purchased the property and began renovations.
“It was completely overgrown. You wouldn’t believe it to see it today,” said Goodrich who gutted the house and repurposed the property as an office.
He’s also invested money to improve the sidewalk outside his business along California Avenue.
Goodrich invests in the neighborhood personally, but also encourages other property owners to improve the condition of the neighborhood.
The Goodrich and Geist building is now a focal point in the Brighton Heights neighborhood and Goodrich hopes to bring more businesses to the area as other properties are bought up and renovated.
“I see young professionals walking to Tom Friday’s butcher shop, or to the Java House,” he said. “It’s nice to see young professionals moving into the area.”
Goodrich added, “As long as it has a positive impact on the neighborhood, any development from a private buyer or larger company is welcome.”
Goodrich is also an active member of the Brighton Heights Citizen Federation. With the help of the Brighton Heights Citizen Federation, Goodrich has created more development in the area with businesses that are compatible with the Brighton Heights neighborhood.
Raymond Meyer, a longtime member of the Brighton Heights Citizen Federation, recognizes the Bill’s contribution to the neighborhood outside of the property renovations.
“Bill is not just developing buildings. He’s also handing out Halloween candy or dressing as Santa Claus for the Brighton Heights light up night,” Meyers says about Goodrich’s dedication to the neighborhood.
“He’s a great asset to Brighton Heights… he helps to make the neighborhood stronger,” Meyer added.
The head of the Brighton Heights Citizen Federation, Pete Bellisario, says Bill’s renovations of his home and office, “added a dramatic improvement to the business district.”
One aspect of Brighton Heights that Goodrich is especially fond of is its centrality in Pittsburgh. It is easily accessible, an “unsung pearl within the city.”