While there are several affordable and mixed-income housing developments either under construction or planned for Larimer, as part of the $30 million Choice Neighborhoods funding it received in 2014, there are also efforts to stabilize the neighborhood through homeownership initiatives.
One of them has engaged a Black architect and also a Black contractor, and as Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh board member Ed Gainey said—it’s about time.
“We need to invest more in African American developers,” he told the board prior to the authorization vote. “This particular project shows that we are helping to build capacity, but we need to do more. This should be a priority going into 2019, so I’m glad to see we started this way.”
The project involves the rehab-for-resale of two homes on Mayflower Street in Larimer. The interiors have been gutted and will be reconstructed per the specifications and designs of architect Milton Ogot—who designed the renovations for the nearby St. James AME Church. The work will be done by AONE Contracting and Supplies, owned by Larimer resident Emmett Miles.
The renovations will include new roofs, new windows, new doors, new electrical, plumbing, and HVAC (furnace and air conditioning units), new kitchens, new baths, new interior walls, landscaping, refinished or new wood floors, and painting.
“I’m doing all the rehab work, and we’re responsible for selling them, too—the idea is to enhance my credentials as a developer and selling is part of that,” said Miles, after thanking everyone involved, including the mayor. “I’m really grateful for the project and happy to be moving forward.”
The projected cost for the rehab is just under $600,000. When completed the houses will be sold for $192,500 and $210,000 respectively to owners with incomes less than 110 percent of the Area Median Income.
Reading from Executive Director Robert Rubinstein’s report, URA Housing Director Bob Cummings outlined the benefits.
“This development will improve the existing housing stock and will help to maintain and enhance the economic diversity of Larimer by providing affordable homeownership opportunities,” he said.
Miles said once all the permits and approvals are taken care of, he should be able to start fairly soon.
“It’s almost all interior work, so we could start right in,” he said. “The bonus is that once these two are completed and sold, we’ll get another six. So the big-picture goal for me is to be the designated Larimer developer.”
Miles hoped to do that in 2005 with his planned renovation of the Larimer School, but he could never get the funding for the massive project and sold the building to the URA in 2017.
“I’m still disappointed about that,” said Miles. “But at least they’re going ahead with my plan once they start that phase of the Larimer redevelopment.”
In other business, the authority board also voted to sell a 43,000 share-foot parcel in East Liberty to Mellon Orchard Housing for $600,000 so the company can build a 47-unit, multi-family development, 37 of which will be affordable. The projected cost is just under $13.5 million.
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