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Developers Offer Updates On Housing Projects

Posted by Elwin Green on December 11, 2016 at 12:45 AM

As developers move into Homewood, housing has taken center stage and on Tuesday, Nov. 29, about 100 people attended the Homewood Concerned Citizens Coalition meeting at Homewood Carnegie

Library to learn about a slew of real estate developments.

The meeting was moderated by HCCC Executive Director Cherylie Fuller with representatives of the agencies or companies involved in building more than 100 new homes.

The projects include Susquehanna Homes, a scattered-site development of 36 rental units by Oxford Development and S&A Homes; Kelly Green, a for-sale development to be built at Kelly Street and Dallas Avenue by the Pittsburgh Housing Development Corp., a subsidiary of the Urban Redevelopment Authority; Kelly Hamilton, a 58-unit mixed-income rental development by KBK Enterprises and the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh; and an additional 40 units of for-sale housing to be built by Building United of Southwestern Pennsylvania, in partnership with East Liberty Development Inc.

With all the building of new housing going on, an audience member asked how new low-income housing might affect property values in the area.

Fuller turned the question over to Charlene Haislip, president-elect of the Realtors Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh, who said, "It is my opinion that the property values surrounding it get diminished."

Her answer was met with a murmur of disapproval, leading her to try to "nuance" it.

In a thriving neighborhood such as Shadyside, she said, building some low-income housing might not affect property values much. But in a neighborhood that is not yet thriving, "that's not the way to put an anchor into the neighborhood to make the neighborhood thrive."

"It would be much better to try to develop your neighborhood commercial district," she said. "Get some of that thing going and then have development happen more naturally.”

Tim Cummings, housing director at the Urban Redevelopment Authority, was on hand to provide updates on a couple of projects and started with Susquehanna Homes, which will include 36 scattered-site units of rental housing to be completed by late next year.

The city is partnering with developers Oxford Development and S&A Homes on the project. All of the homes will meet the government's definition of affordable housing, to be rented to tenants whose income is no more than 60 percent of the "Area Median Income," the income level at which half the population earns more and half the population earns less.

Ma'at Construction, the for-profit subsidiary of Community Empowerment Association, is on board to help general contractor Mistick Construction meet the project's minority hiring requirements.

Cummings also provided an update on Kelly Green, with refreshing honesty.

"Right now we don't have the budget where we want it to be," he said, and said that the URA is likely to re-bid the project to find a different developer.

Asked what the creation of new for-sale housing would do to property taxes in the area, Cummings replied, "I don't really have a crystal ball to tell what would happen to the taxes on that street."

"That's a very complicated issue that we kind of struggle with with Councilman Burgess and with Representative Gainey," he continued. "I don't think the answer is not to develop. I think the answer is to come up with other solutions to benefit longtime residents that are on fixed incomes that don't have the income to pay the tax increases."

Cummings finished with an announcement regarding the former Homewood Montessori School at 7000 Hamilton Ave.: “The URA is the proud owner of the Homewood school.”

He said that the agency does not have plans for the site.

"We're really looking for direction from the community."

Keith B. Keys, principal of KBK Enterprises, gave the most detailed presentation of the evening, regarding Kelly Hamilton. Bounded by Lang Avenue, Murtland Street, Hamilton Avenue and Kelly Street, Kelly Hamilton will be a mixed-income community, with some units subsidized and others rented at market rates.

Rents for the 58 units will range from $744 to $845 a month with subsidy, and $1,200 to $1,300 for market rate units. Construction is expected to take 12 to 15 months.

The Rev. Sam Ware, executive director of Building United of Southwestern Pennsylvania, spoke about partnering with East Liberty Development Inc. to build 40 units of housing. The Housing Authority is putting $1.5 million into the project, but the location for the homes hasn't been decided, so he is "looking at an extension of Housing Authority deadlines" to keep the project viable.

The exact sizes and styles of the homes has not been decided, Ware was careful to say, "We don't want it to look like some of the old housing stock that has the stigma attached to it as projects."

Fuller followed with a mini-presentation of her own, announcing that construction has begun on a new 9,100-square-foot Family Dollar store, which scheduled to open in March, at the intersection of Bennett and Tokay streets.

The simplest and most straightforward presentation was by Judith K. Ginyard of JKG Real Estate Services LLC and did not involve housing. Rather, she presented drawings of a parking lot being planned by Homewood resident Deborah Bey between Finance and Tioga streets.

Ms. Bey owns all of the parcels involved but one, which is owned by the URA. No timeline was given for the completion of the lot.


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A print version of this piece appears in the Dec. 8 - 14 issue of Print, Pittsburgh's East End newspaper. Pick up your copy at Giant Eagle, 9001 Frankstown Rd., then SUBSCRIBE for more of Homewood Nation and other East End news!

Categories: Economics and Wealthbuilding, Real Estate, Business