An artist's rendering of the proposed renovation of the YWCA building, Downtown, presented to the City Planning Commission on May 17, 2022.
An artist's rendering of the proposed renovation of the YWCA building, Downtown, presented to the City Planning Commission on May 17, 2022.

Update (5/31/22): The City Planning Commission approved both the renovation of the former Easter Seals building and the planned addition of 20 stories of apartments to the YWCA building.

Downtown Pittsburgh stands to get more than 400 new apartments, including 30 that would be affordable to lower-income households, under plans presented to the City Planning Commission.

The larger of two projects would involve renovation of the four-story YWCA building on Wood Street, and construction of an additional 20 stories atop that. The YWCA plans to move to the South Side.

Dubbed City Club Apartments and developed by Minneapolis-based BKV Group, the new tower would include 300 apartments. Of those, 30 would be affordable to households earning less than 50% of the area median income, including 20 studios, six one-bedroom and four two-bedroom apartments. The rest would be rented at market rates.

Six of the apartments would be fully accessible to people with mobility challenges.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed new tower that would sit atop the existing YWCA building Downtown, presented to the City Planning Commission on May 17, 2022.

Three floors of uninterrupted, windowless masonry that mark the building now would be transformed with windows and balconies. Architect Ryan Indovina said the developers plan to retain an existing swimming pool and a gym as part of “a health club that is accessible for everybody,” and not just to tenants.

“I appreciate you salvaging the building at the bottom and preserving the public use,” said Commission Chair Christine Mondor. The panel is expected to hold a public hearing and vote on the plan on May 31.

The commission also plans to hold a May 31 hearing and vote on a separate proposal to convert the former Easter Seals building on Fort Duquesne Boulevard into 142 apartments. Architect Kevan Rutledge’s initial virtual briefing to the commission included no mention of affordable units, and he did not immediately respond to PublicSource’s request for more information.

The Easter Seals building, on Fort Duquesne Boulevard, Downtown, in a photo presented to the City Planning Commission on May 17, 2022.

That century-old, nine-story building next to the Byham Theater was constructed for Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. The developer — which was not named in the presentation — plans to tap historic tax credits to finance the construction, and will be required to preserve the masonry and install what Rutledge called “historically accurate replacement windows.”

The commission postponed until June 14 a planned hearing and vote on a 10-year plan for Oakland’s growth. The Department of City Planning is working to address hundreds of public comments it has received, including around 40 that it characterized as “substantive,” touching on issues like equity, sustainability and affordable student housing.


Rich Lord is PublicSource’s managing editor. He can be reached at rich@publicsource.org or on Twitter @richelord.

Do you feel more informed?

Help us inform people in the Pittsburgh region with more stories like this — support our nonprofit newsroom with a donation.

Rich is the managing editor of PublicSource. He joined the team in 2020, serving as a reporter focused on housing and economic development and an assistant editor. He reported for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette...