Garfield Commons celebrates opening

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When Columbus-based developer Keith B. Key grew up on Columbo Street in Garfield, one of his friends was   Pride Rivers. He grew up to become a Maryland State Trooper. He died last year.

But his name lives on in Garfield not only through his family, but because it is emblazoned above the entrance to the community center at the newly opened Garfield Commons mixed housing development.

Key made sure of that—he’s the developer.

NewBeginningCommons
NEW BEGINNING— Trisha Germany, city manager for KBK Development, stands at the entrance of the Pride Community Center at the newly opened Garfield Commons housing community.

“He was a great Christian man and did a lot of work in his community and here,” said Key. “He got to see some of it and was excited about helping out. We wanted to showcase what mattered to him, and this center exhibits that spirit. It allows us to provide a cadre of services; art, dance and computer training. It will be a place of pride, and help return pride to community.”

 

The new community, which replaces the violence and drug-infested Garfield Heights public housing plan, celebrated its opening Jan. 12, even though nearly half of the community’s two- and three- four- and even five-bedroom rental homes are under lease or occupied. A total of 90 units make up the development’s first phase.

“We only have one of the 10 accessible units left,” said Trisha Germany, city manager for Key’s KBK Development. “In total, this phase has 50 units set aside for former residents, 20 designated affordable and 20 leasing at market rate.”

“Of the 50 low-income units in both phases, 43 are already leased,” said Germany. “We have 10 left at market rate and 10 affordable units available.”

The bulk of the homes in the $28 million development are town homes, but there are several stand-alone homes. One, a two-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath serves as a model for prospective residents. All units feature whole-house air conditioning, wall-to-wall carpeting, cable and telephone jacks in every room.

Key also has another house warming gift for residents. Through his KBK Foundation, he will give each home a computer. The residents need only complete a computer literacy training program.

“This is about changing the dynamic, kids doing homework at home, with their families,” Key said. “Even laundry—not having to take it to a laundromat preserves some of that family time we all need more of.”

Each unit also features kitchens equipped with a refrigerator and dishwasher, and also come with a washer and dryer.

Each unit also has an enclosed rear deck. Most of the accessible units also feature off-street parking.

Phase two of the project is budgeted at $15.7 million and scheduled to begin construction in July. It will add another 45 units to the development, with 25 set aside for former residents, 10 at market rate and 10 affordable units. Six will be accessible. Key said he is preparing to apply for another round of federal tax credits in February that would help finance the $15 million, 40-unit third phase.

A. Fulton Meachem, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, called the development the authority’s most ambitious ever, and said raising capital for the project during the recession was a feat in itself, but the end result is beautiful.

(Send comments to cmorrow@ newpittsburghcourier.com)

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