Affordable rental and for-sale homes are in the works for Hazelwood, while a mixed-income housing proposal for the neighborhood continues to be subject to negotiations.
At its first board meeting since Ed Gainey became Pittsburgh’s mayor, the Urban Redevelopment Authority board spent much of its time discussing the neighborhood, which appears to be poised for growth as the Hazelwood Green site prepares for impending tech investments.
The board approved $3.7 million in financing for the conversion of the former Gladstone Elementary School into the Gladstone Residences. The century-old building is set to become 51 rental units — mostly one-bedroom — of which 43 will be reserved for households at various modest income levels.
The funding comes from the city’s Housing Opportunity Fund and from its federal American Rescue Plan Act allocation. Most of the rest of the project’s total cost of $24 million will be covered using low-income housing tax credits.
“This project has been a very long time coming,” said Sonya Tilghman, executive director of Hazelwood Initiative, which is working with developer The Community Builders on the Gladstone project. “We are just thrilled to be on the cusp of breaking ground on this project.”
The board also approved the sale of five Hazelwood lots to the City of Bridges Community Land Trust, which is also working with The Community Builders, in this case to build affordable for-sale housing.
The lots, along Hazelwood Avenue and Chatsworth Avenue, will make up part of the site of 12 permanently affordable for-sale townhomes, including three-bedroom units. City of Bridges expects to seek URA financing at a later date.
Ed Nusser, the land trust’s director of real estate, said the townhomes will be constructed with solar panels, upgraded insulation, rain barrels and other environmental sustainability features. “This is not the easy way to build affordable housing,” he said, but the resulting utility savings will help to ensure that the eventual owners can afford to stay.
The board voted to allow further negotiations between URA staff and developer Oak Moss Consulting regarding the potential sale of 48 city-owned parcels on Monongahela Street, Sylvan Avenue, Chatsworth Street and Chance Way. Oak Moss wants to build 62 units in duplexes, of which six units would be locked in at affordable rents. The proposal has spurred neighborhood concern about the resulting loss of wooded hillside, and the board encouraged Oak Moss to make more progress on plans to train neighborhood residents to participate in construction.
‘Cavalry’ comes to address ‘deplorable conditions’
The board voted to extend $800,000 in Housing Opportunity Fund loans and grants to Western Manor Inc., which runs the Bedford Campus for low-income seniors living in the Hill District.
The campus’ 32-unit Western Manor building has been the subject of resident complaints about deteriorating conditions, and that building and the nearby Milliones Manor are without a property manager. Western Manor has failed federal Department of Housing and Urban Development inspections.
A loan of $500,000 is intended to cover repairs to Western Manor’s roof and shell. A grant of $300,000 will cover unpaid bills and make it possible for the complex to attract a new manager, URA staff told the board.
“Our seniors have been living in these deplorable conditions,” said board member Lindsay Powell. She added that she’d like to see earlier identification of such issues so the URA is “not coming in as the cavalry to save the day” at the last minute.
The URA has been involved in crafting redevelopment plans for the campus for three years, said Shaina Madden, the agency’s assistant director of residential and consumer lending. The failed HUD inspections have compelled prompt action.
“There’s a lot more work in front of us,” said Kyle Chintalapalli, a new member of the board who is also Gainey’s chief economic development officer. “This is a first step.”
New South Side apartments and board members
The board also gave the go-ahead to staff to sell 1.8 acres of South Side land to SomeraRoad Inc. for construction of a 246-unit apartment building, along with an ice rink, playground, town square and retail spaces.
None of the apartments will be priced for lower-income tenants, but SomeraRoad agreed to set rents at 17 units in a nearby building it owns for households of modest means.
The development is expected to cost $75.3 million, and SomeraRoad hopes to start construction in the spring.
The meeting was the first as a board member for Chintalapalli. Absent was newly named board member state Rep. Sara Innamorato, who had a scheduling conflict. They replace Gainey and Jodi Hirsh.
The board is likely to vote on March 10 on its leadership. It has been chaired since 2019 by Sam Williamson, who is the Western Pennsylvania district leader for the Service Employees International Union’s 32BJ branch.
Rich Lord is PublicSource’s economic development reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @richelord.
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