Affordable rental and sale homes are in the works for Hazelwood, while a mixed-income housing proposal for the neighborhood continues to be negotiated.
In its first board meeting since Ed Gainey became mayor of Pittsburgh, the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s board spent much of its time discussing the neighborhood, which looks set to grow. as the Hazelwood Green site prepares for impending technology investments.
The council approved $3.7 million in funding for the conversion of the former Gladstone Elementary School to Gladstone Residences. The century-old building is expected to become 51 rental units, mostly one-bedroom, 43 of which will be reserved for low-income households.
Funding comes from the city’s Housing Opportunity Fund and its federal American Rescue Plan Act allocation. Most of the remainder of the total project cost of $24 million will be covered by low-income housing tax credits.
“This project took a very long time to come,” said Sonya Tilghman, executive director of the Hazelwood Initiative, which is working with developer The Community Builders on the Gladstone project. “We’re just thrilled to be about to innovate on this project.”
Council 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 housing for sale.
The lots, along Hazelwood Avenue and Chatsworth Avenue, will be part of the site of 12 affordable townhouses for sale permanently, including three-bedroom units. City of Bridges plans to seek URA funding at a later date.
Ed Nusser, the land trust’s real estate director, said the townhouses will be built with solar panels, upgraded insulation, rain barrels and other environmental sustainability features. “It’s not the easy way to build affordable housing,” he said, but the resulting utility savings will help ensure that prospective homeowners can afford to stay.
Council voted to authorize further negotiations between URA staff and developer Oak Moss Consulting regarding the potential sale of 48 city-owned plots on Monongahela Street, Sylvan Avenue, Chatsworth Street and Chance Way. Oak Moss wants to build 62 duplex units, six of which would be tied up at affordable rents. The proposal raised concerns in the neighborhood about the resulting loss of wooded hillside, and council encouraged Oak Moss to make further progress on plans to train neighborhood residents to participate in the construction.
The “cavalry” comes to remedy the “deplorable conditions”
The council voted to extend $800,000 in Housing Opportunity Fund loans and grants to Western Manor Inc., which operates the Bedford campus for low-income seniors living in the Hill District.
The 32-unit Western Manor building on campus was the subject of resident complaints about deteriorating conditions, and this building and the nearby Milliones Manor are without a property manager. Western Manor failed inspections by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A loan of $500,000 is intended to cover repairs to the roof and hull of Western Manor. A $300,000 grant will cover unpaid bills and allow the resort to attract a new manager, URA staff told the board.
“Our seniors live in these deplorable conditions,” said board member Lindsay Powell. She added that she would like to see earlier identification of these issues so that the URA “doesn’t show up as the cavalry to save the day” at the last minute.
The URA has been involved in developing campus redevelopment plans for three years, said Shaina Madden, the agency’s deputy director for residential and consumer loans. Failed HUD inspections compelled quick action.
“There’s still a lot of work ahead of us,” said Kyle Chintalapalli, a new board member who is also Gainey’s director of economic development. “It’s a first step.”
New Apartments and South Side Board Members
Council also gave staff the go-ahead to sell 1.8 acres of south-side land to SomeraRoad Inc. for construction of a 246-apartment building, along with an ice rink, playground, public plaza and commercial spaces.
None of the apartments will be priced for low-income tenants, but SomeraRoad has agreed to set rents at 17 units in a nearby building it owns for low-income households.
The development is expected to cost $75.3 million and SomeraRoad hopes to begin construction in the spring.
The meeting was the first as a board member of Chintalapalli. Absent was the new state board member representative, Sara Innamorato, who had a scheduling conflict. They replace Gainey and Jodi Hirsh.
The board is expected to vote March 10 on its direction. It has been chaired since 2019 by Sam Williamson, who is the Western Pennsylvania District Manager for the 32BJ branch of the Service Employees International Union.
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