Planning Commission approves extension of affordable housing rules to Polish Hill and Bloomfield

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New housing development in Bloomfield and Polish Hill is expected to include affordable units under a proposal approved by the Planning Commission.

If also approved by Pittsburgh City Council, the measure would add those neighborhoods to an inclusive zoning district that now consists of Lawrenceville. There, new developers who want to build 20 or more apartments or houses for sale must ensure that 10% is affordable for 35 years.

The two neighborhoods “are really in the crosshairs now, so to speak,” said City Councilor Deb Gross, whose district includes them, as well as Lawrenceville. “They are overwhelmed by speed, capacity and private market funding. They are among the most overheated real estate markets in the city.


Gross cited estimates that nearly 40% of tenants in these neighborhoods face eviction if rents continue to rise.

Under the city’s inclusionary zoning terms, affordability means apartment rents are locked in at rates calculated to be manageable for households earning less than half of the region’s median income. In the case of homes for sale, selling prices should be adjusted so that mortgages are affordable for households earning 80% or less of the median income in the area.

Developers have the option of locating affordable units outside of the main development site, but if they do, the minimum number of price-controlled units is 12% of the total.

Pittsburgh’s new mayor, Ed Gainey, has indicated his support for inclusive zoning. Its appointed budget manager, Jake Pawlak, read a statement from the mayor to the committee.

“A strong and equitable development policy is needed to prevent the displacement of low-income residents,” Gainey said in the statement. “We can’t push people out and say we’re growing our economy. “

Pawlak said the administration wanted to work on city-wide inclusion zoning.


Advocates for the Bloomfield, Polish Hill and Lawrenceville neighborhoods have all spoken out in favor of the expansion. The committee voted unanimously in favor of the expansion.

The Holy Family Church in Central Lawrenceville would look like this and consist of 24 condominiums as part of a plan submitted by E Properties & Development and approved by the Planning Commission, with conditions.

Highlighting the effects of inclusionary zoning, the commission also approved a plan to convert the Holy Family Church campus in Central Lawrenceville into 21 townhouses and 24 condominiums, five of which would be affordable.

The condos must be inside the shell of the church. The townhouses will replace the school and the residence, which will be razed, according to the plan by E Properties & Development. The commission set a condition that the developer would work on a plan that would distribute the five affordable units among townhouses and condos.

The commission also heard initial briefings on two impending developments, both of which would involve affordable rental housing.

McKnight Realty Partners plans to demolish a one-story structure near the corner of Penn and Highland avenues in East Liberty and build a six-story commercial and apartment building. Cantilevered above the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, the May Sterns residential development would include ground-floor stores and around 38 apartments, four of which would be affordable for low-income households.

May Sterns Residential Development

Artist’s rendering of the May Sterns residential development project, submitted by the architect to the Planning Commission on January 11.

Commissioner Becky Mingo noted the “flat” appearance of the facade. “If I was walking from Friendship, having a juice and walking my way, wanting to stop and have a coffee and a croissant, I would kind of slide along this facade and say: “It’s so hard,” and not really want to get into that retail space, ”she said.

Project architect Ryan Indovina retorted that the wide sidewalks and trees on the street “are going to create a very unique condition on Penn Avenue.” … It almost becomes like a Parisian boulevard, so as not to go so far.

The commission is expected to hold a hearing and vote on whether or not to approve the design on January 25.

The commission should also then decide whether or not to approve a zoning change for a small parcel in Bloomfield on which there is an unoccupied house. Echo Realty wants to integrate the plot into the site of a new 28,000 square foot Giant Eagle store, along with 190 apartments, envisioned for a 2 acre lot near the end of the Bloomfield Bridge. Phil Bishop, vice president of Echo Realty, said 10% of apartments would be affordable.

The committee postponed until February 8 a hearing and a vote on the Oakland Crossings proposal put forward by Walnut Capital. Gainey asked for the deadline to allow time for conversations involving community and student groups, housing justice advocates and the developer. Commission Chair Christine Mondor listed 30 letters the panel has already received regarding this proposed rezoning of 18 acres of Central Oakland and South Oakland to allow denser, higher and more varied uses on both sides of Allied Boulevard. .


Rich Lord is PublicSource’s economic development reporter. He can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @richelord.


affordable housing Pittsburghbloomfield Planning Commission Inclusion Zoning District Lawrenceville Pittsburgh City Council Pittsburgh Planning Commission Polish Hill

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