With a new master vision plan, and a coalition of stakeholders working on cooperative renewal, development plans for Larimer are looking up.

At least they were until Urban Redevelopment Authority Housing Director Tom Cummings told city council April 6 the authority had revised a funding request that meant Larimer would not be receiving more than $272,000 in state development funding.

Initially the URA had submitted six applications to the sate Department of Community and Economic Development for $3.4 million in funds. However, two of those projects—in Larimer and Uptown–were dropped and two others replaced them.

“For a few years now, the DCED has moved toward only funding projects that are ‘ready to go,’” said Cummings. “They were poised to reject Larimer and Uptown, and told us to reapply. So we substituted the others in an effort to get the full $3.4 million.”

East Liberty Concerned Citizens founder Ora Lee Carroll had contacted council and Cummings demanding to know why the money had been taken from Larimer when they had a plan, plenty of city-owned property and architectural drawings for houses.

Cummings said there really was no money earmarked for Larimer, only an application—that was about to be denied.

“It wasn’t us. The DCED wasn’t going to fund it,” he said. “Garfield already had the property, a developer, had already secured tax-credit financing, and can close in 90 days.”

Though Larimer development is further down the road, Cummings said the board wants to keep activity going and has replaced most of the state money with local funds.

“At the April 11 board meeting, they approved up to $250,000 in bridge loans for site assembly,” he said. “It wasn’t earmarked for Larimer, but we wanted it to be, so we replaced it. One of our next steps will be to secure a developer.”

The $272,600 in state funding will instead go to build six additional houses in the URA’s Federal Hill plan on the North Side. Another $550,000 that was to purchase property at the corner of Dinwiddie Street and Fifth Avenue will go for affordable housing in Garfield.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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