A new day is dawning in Larimer, with the city getting ready to plant the first seeds in a massive effort to revitalize the neighborhood with the help of a $30 million federal grant.
Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority board members are poised to give the go-ahead Thursday for construction of 85 mixed-income residential units in Larimer and East Liberty, the first phase of a broader $400 million revitalization strategy.
The townhouses and apartments will be built at the site of the former Liberty Park site and Omega Place in East Liberty and the former Auburn Towers site in Larimer.
They were made possible in part because of a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant awarded last year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Pittsburgh was only one of four cities in the country to win a grant. Forty-three had applied.
The crowd inside — and eventually outside — 816 E. Warrington Ave. one recent evening gathered to showcase a newly renovated Allentown property. The former Ken’s Variety had been vacant for more than 20 years.
As the evening deepened, “Open in Allentown,” a “pop-up” event with a garage-style glass door rolled up, became a stew of neighborhood leaders, investors, consultants, residents of Allentown and nearby neighborhoods mingling over cocktails and catered nibbles.
The event and mix of people signified what Hilltop Alliance executive director Aaron Sukenik called “Warrington Avenue in its reinvention phase.”
One mile from Downtown (Pittsburgh) and cradled by the hot markets of Mount Washington and the South Side Slopes, Allentown is riddled with residential blight, and 35 percent of its commercial properties are vacant. But the newly repaved Warrington Avenue is on the cusp of a transition from being seedy to being seen.
Saturday, April 18
The Montgomery County Partners for Home Ownership, in conjunction with the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Development, invites you to join our annual HOUSING FAIR. The Housing Fair is free to the public and will include an exhibitor area for non-profits, banks, mortgage companies, realtors & insurance companies, home inspectors, credit companies and other housing-related organizations. Workshops will be running throughout the day!
To John Kromer the city’s persistent poverty is best tackled at the neighborhood level. In a four-part series of commentaries Kromer, an urban housing and development consultant and former city housing director, will explore different policy interventions the next administration can deploy to reduce poverty, stabilize neighborhoods, and finance anti-blight work. Kromer lays the foundation with this first installment:
Mayoral and City Council candidates rarely have to take strong positions on neighborhood issues because other topics, such as taxes, crime, schools, and drugs, are more likely to attract voter interest when presented in a citywide, rather than neighborhood-specific context. Given all the demands of a hectic campaign season, most candidates don’t bother to bring forward substantive proposals for improving the condition of Philadelphia neighborhoods until after the elections.
The lower-priority status of neighborhoods as a campaign issue is particularly unfortunate, because the city’s biggest problem—the persistently high level of poverty in Philadelphia—can only be solved at the neighborhood level.
Organizing a neighborhoods policy that can be effective in reducing poverty levels is doable but complicated. Doing so requires thinking about existing strengths and weaknesses and future opportunities in a new way and seeking to obtain political buy-in for a new approach immediately. Advocates for fundamental policy changes can’t afford to wait until after the inauguration ceremony, after the appointment of planning and development officials, and after the presentation of the new administration’s first budget. Anyone who’s serious about planning to significantly reduce poverty during the next city administration needs to begin now.
McKeesport soon may have two new homes built in the city’s Seventh Ward cultural and educational district — and perhaps more after that.
City council Wednesday gave “unqualified support” to ACTION-Housing Inc.’s requests for funding for two homes on space cleared near the Twin Rivers school complex.
“ACTION-Housing will act as a partner with the city in the development and sale of the two new homes,” Mayor Michael Cherepko wrote in a letter dated Feb. 27 to Allegheny County’s Department of Economic Development.
That department handles a housing development fund and affordable housing trust fund that could be part of a mix of funding sources the nonprofit will pursue.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Are you making enough money to afford a home in your area?
In some areas around the country, earning little more than $30,000 annually may be enough to afford a house, whereas in other, more expensive areas, you will need almost five times as much.
HSH.com, a mortgage research data Web site, analyzed fourth-quarter data to determine the minimum salary needed in order to be able to afford a home in the 27 largest metro areas in the United States.
For the third quarter in a row, Pittsburgh was found to be the most affordable city in the country, with an annual median salary of just $31,716.32 needed to afford a home there. Those working in San Francisco need to make 4.5 times the amount that Steel City workers earn to afford a home.
The ultra-chic Residences at Mandarin Oriental in Boston’s Back Bay — a development with its own concierge and marble foyers, as well as rents that range from $4,700 to $17,000 a month — has been the province of the rich and powerful since opening in 2008.
But not exclusively.
Thanks to a 15-year-old city policy, teachers, police officers and other modest wage earners live next door to the wealthy at the Mandarin and other luxurious residential developments in Boston.
Because of the city’s inclusionary development policy, the Mandarin houses 10 affordable apartments — comparable in size and quality to the others — with rents ranging from $1,365 to $2,340 a month. The lucky recipients were chosen by lottery.
The site of a former public housing complex in St. Clair might become the home of a residential community that could fund one of the largest urban farms in the country, nonprofit officials said.
“It’s definitely a significant plan, but it’s not going to be easy,” said Aaron Sukenik, executive director of the Hilltop Alliance, which wants to redevelop the site and operate the farm.
The Housing Authority of the city of Pittsburgh demolished the 61-year-old St. Clair Village public housing complex in 2010 as it sought to reshape the look of public housing in the city to a model that had less-dense communities and more mixed incomes.
The Hilltop Alliance wants to turn the vacant, 107-acre parcel into Hilltop Village Farm, which would include 120 for-sale and rental townhouses, as well as an urban farm using about 20 acres for a farm incubator, youth farm and community-supported agriculture farm, or CSA.
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s next governor knows all about distressed cities.
Gov.-elect Tom Wolf spent 12 years as president of Better York, a nonprofit bent on revitalizing the city of York. In that role, he worked closely with a nationally prominent urban expert who promotes regional solutions for urban woes.
As he prepares to take office Jan. 20, Wolf said he wants to lead a statewide discussion about how the future of older cities such as Scranton, inner ring suburbs and the surrounding townships are interrelated.
“What I bring to this is a real appreciation for what cities do,” he said in an interview.
Some residents have moved into a new affordable housing complex in South Side Bethlehem that includes the redevelopment of the former St. Stanislaus Church.
Residents have started to move into the South Side Lofts apartments at East Fifth and Atlantic streets while apartments next to the church on Hayes Street will be occupied starting next month, according to officials at Housing Development Corp. MidAtlantic, the apartments’ developer.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 46 apartments was held Tuesday. Read more about the project here.
Pittsburgh has transformed from an economically stagnant, transient city to “somewhere people want to come to and stay for a long time,” according to Doug Heuck, director of Pittsburgh Today.
A new report from the statistics-based project reflects this trend in increased home ownership, showing more residents are making the city their home.
The report shows the Pittsburgh region has the highest percentage of owner-occupied housing compared to 14 other metropolitan areas with comparable size and demographics, according to U.S. Census figures.
Factors like employment opportunities, education and housing have turned the city into “somewhere people want to come to and stay for a long time,” Mr. Heuck said.
You could probably fit every unit of affordable housing being built in Philadelphia today inside one of the fancy glass skyscrapers going up in University City, and still have a couple of floors left over. That’s not because the new towers are so immense, but because the city produces so little subsidized housing for the poor and working class.
It wasn’t always that way. From the 1950s through the Clinton years, the federal government financed thousands of units of affordable housing. Though the results weren’t always well-designed, the programs did at least ensure the poor had places to live. But in the last decade, federal money dried up and cities were left to their own devices. It’s no accident that wage stagnation has become a hot issue as low-cost housing has become harder to find.
So, as with many urban improvements these days, cities have begun to look to the private sector to pick up the slack. The strategy is called “inclusionary housing,” and it involves trading zoning bonuses for apartments.
Developers get to put up taller, denser towers. Cities get a bunch of units in the new buildings that can be rented at below-market rates. Low-wage workers get fabulous apartments with skyline views.
PLEASANTVILLE, N.J. – This down-on-its-luck stepsister town to neighboring Atlantic City has struggled economically for decades, languishing without a redevelopment plan or the ability to attract private investment.
But a $38 million project that includes two apartment buildings and retail space on a vacant Main Street block is expected to set the cornerstone for economic growth and expanded development in the Atlantic County city, according to Jacqueline Amado-Belton, economic development director for the City of Pleasantville.
“We feel like we have borne the brunt of a lot of issues that have spilled over from Atlantic City over the years,” Amado-Belton said. “In terms of perception and other factors, it’s been a struggle and a challenge to get to this point.”
The Pleasantville City Center, expected to be completed by next summer, will add 135 apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail space and will be bordered by Main Street, Washington Avenue, Milan Avenue, and South Second Street.
WILKES-BARRE, PA — About 30 people protested the proposed housing project in the Rolling Mill section of the city, offering testimony, petitions and heartfelt concerns, but the Zoning Hearing Board unanimously approved all four changes requested by Housing Development Corporation MidAtlantic of Lancaster.
As the crowd filtered out of council chambers at City Hall Thursday evening, you could hear cries of “It’s not fair,” and “You live there,” from residents of McCarragher, Moyallen, Dana and Grove streets — all to be impacted by the 56-unit rental complex to be built by HDC.
Attorney Charles McCormick, zoning hearing board solicitor, said there is a 30-day window for appeals to be filed on the decision. Once that is exhausted, HDC will then bring a detailed land development plan to the city’s planning commission for approval.
Lofted ceilings. A rooftop deck. Bird’s-eye views of the former Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces.
An on-site art gallery. Personal studio space. Central air conditioning, walk-in closets and modern kitchen and bathroom facilities.
While it sounds like they could be, these are not features of a new high-end apartment complex in Bethlehem. In fact, these amenities are part of a new 46-unit affordable apartment complex set to open on Bethlehem’s South Side in October.
“We have people come on tours because they can’t believe this is affordable housing,” said Jolene Weaver, corporate marketing manager for Housing Development Corp. MidAtlantic, the apartments’ developer.
WILKES-BARRE, PA — In a few months, the vacant building on Dana Street that formerly housed First Hospital will be gone. A housing development is planned in its place.
The Wyoming Valley Health and Education Foundation is demolishing properties on Dana, Grove and McCarragher streets in the Rolling Mill Hill neighborhood with plans to donate the land to a Lancaster-based development company.
Housing Development Corporation MidAtlantic plans to build 56 units of affordable rental housing in the area.
The properties include 133 and 149 Dana St., 66-68 Grove St. and 112 McCarragher St., according to Gerard T. O’Donnell, a consultant working with the Wyoming Valley Health and Education Foundation, which plans to demolish the structures.
The Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority board has taken another step in preparing the former Civic Arena site for redevelopment.
Board members authorized a $555,685 contract with Michael Baker Jr. today to do final design work for four roads — Centre Avenue, Washington Place, Bedford Avenue, and Crawford Street — that border the 28-acre site in the lower Hill District.
Plans call for those existing roads to be repaved, with upgraded signals, intersections and sidewalks at an estimated cost of $12 million.
Tiny houses could play a big role in rebuilding Garfield by filling some of the neighborhood’s hundreds of vacant lots and boosting homeownership in a more affordable way, officials say.
Downtown nonprofit cityLAB intends to build a 210-square-foot home on a small parcel between two-story homes on North Atlantic Avenue, a couple of blocks from bustling Penn Avenue. Leaders of the group hope more will follow.
“There’s no such thing as a small building project,” said Chad Chalmers, an architect with Sewickley-based Wildman Chalmers Design LLC who is working on the Garfield project, noting that construction of a tiny house must go through the same steps as a traditional one — in some cases, more requirements.
An added step for Garfield’s tiny house could be to seek a variance to a section of Pittsburgh’s building code that requires any newly constructed home to have an off-street parking space. In this case, the 180-square-foot space would be nearly as large as the home and eat up one-fifth of the property.
Suzy Waldo can never call off work with the excuse that her car won’t start. And she can’t really justify showing up late for her shifts, either.
Ms. Waldo lives five blocks from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh South Side where she is the branch manager, and is among the relatively small but growing number of Pittsburghers who make their daily commutes by foot.
A new Census report looking at data from the past five years ranks Pittsburgh third among large cities with commuters who walk to work.
Five years of data from the American Community Survey show 11.3 percent of Pittsburghers commute by walking — ahead of New York City’s 10.3 percent, and just behind Boston, at 15.1 percent, and Washington, D.C., at 12.1 percent.