The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh has authorized committing nearly $6.5 million in funding, along with the transfer of 293 properties to the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh in its bid for a federal Choice Neighborhoods Grant.
If approved, the resulting $30 million development project would yield more than 300 new units of low/moderate-income and market-rate units in and around Bedford Dwellings in the Middle Hill.
“This is a critical step forward,” said board member and Hill District Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle. “We are going to be working very hard over the next few weeks to make sure we put forward a winning application.”
The property transfer, Lavelle said, is needed so the housing authority can demonstrate site control to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Though 98 of the units on Somers Drive are to be replaced, the listed properties extend well beyond the current footprint of the original Bedford Dwellings complex—some extending to Wylie Avenue, Kirkpatrick Street, and even Centre Avenue.
Authority Housing Director Tom Cummings, referencing from URA Executive Director Robert Rubinstein’s report, called the expanded footprint the “Bedford Connects Transformation Plan.”
“(It is) a community-wide effort to envision the Hill District and Bedford Dwellings,” he said. “The process entailed hundreds of meetings; four community meetings, 25 Bedford Choice Board meetings, 61 pop-up community events, 68 working group meetings, and countless other engagements with stakeholders.”
The plan also calls for the rehabilitation of single-family houses for resale, façade improvements to both residential and commercial properties, enhancing key connections around the Chauncey Street steps, and constructing ground floor commercial space in mixed-use buildings.
In other housing-related action, the board approved four separate grant awards to Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh’s housing rehabilitation efforts. Three of those awards totaling $105,000 would be used to renovate up to 16 owner-occupied homes in Homewood, 10 in the Hill District, and another 14 in Hilltop communities, including Allentown, Knoxville and Beltzhoover. All the owners are low-income individuals.
A fourth $100,000 contract for the same services will go to renovating 10 homes in East Liberty’s Enright Court community. Additionally, the board approved allocating $400,000 in deferred second mortgage funding to East Liberty Development Inc., for use in the rehabilitation and resale of an additional 16 units in Enright Court.
The board also approved a $300,000 contract for Strada LLC to design the URA’s two floors of offices at its new building at 420 Boulevard of the Allies. The $40 million purchase of the building was approved in July. It will house URA, HACP and City of Pittsburgh offices that currently occupy the John C. Robin Building.
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