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Buying Here: Beechview

Saturday, November 13, 2010
By Kevin Kirkland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The city's Urban Redevelopment Authority has foreclosed and put on the market four buildings -- 1600, 1601, 1602 and 1619 Broadway Ave. == with hopes of enticing developers to invest in this business district and begin its turnaround. Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette

The panoramic views of the South Hills from the third-floor balcony of 1600 Broadway Ave. are a sight for sore eyes — especially if you live in Beechview.

For the last five years, residents of that city neighborhood and riders on the LRT have had to look at mostly shuttered storefronts on Broadway that were bought — then abandoned — by investor Bernardo Katz. The city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority has foreclosed and put on the market four buildings — 1600, 1601, 1602 and 1619 Broadway Ave. — with hopes of enticing developers to invest in this business district and begin its turnaround.

“Beechview is a very cool neighborhood,” said URA Director Rob Stephany. “I think its proximity to the T makes it interesting.”

Mr. Katz defaulted on millions of dollars worth of mortgages and more than $700,000 in loans from the URA that he used to buy these and other commercial properties in Beechview, Oakland and Mt. Lebanon. He fled to his native Brazil in December 2007 and was charged in absentia last year with federal wire and mortgage fraud.

Although most of the buildings were left to deteriorate, Mr Katz worked on the exterior and interior of the first floor of 1600 Broadway and briefly opened a Mexican restaurant there. The largest of the four, it’s now priced at $194,800. The newer storefront reflects its early 1900s construction while the second and third floors have a total of five apartments and another in the basement, with walkout access on Hampshire Avenue. The URA gutted the apartments to the plaster lathe, removing asbestos and all mechanical systems.

“That’s the way developers want it,” said Dave Majcher, URA senior construction coordinator.

Also gutted was the adjoining 1602 Broadway ($43,000), a former bar that has a new roof and a rickety rear addition that the URA says should be removed. Across the street is 1601 Broadway ($130,000), another former bar with a turret and a few architectural details that survived previous remodels — an original staircase and a columned fireplace mantel on the second floor. The views from its second- and third-floor windows are classic Pittsburgh, with small houses clustered along hilly streets.

A half-dozen storefronts separate 1601 from 1619 Broadway ($70,000), a small former video store with an intact three-bedroom apartment behind.

“It’s perfect for a small business owner,” Mr. Stephany said. “Someone could be in at a reasonable cost.”

The other three buildings, however, are suitable only for developers, he said. A feasibility study the URA commissioned last year estimated exterior and interior renovation costs at $588,799 for 1600 Broadway, $409,586 for 1601 and $457,866 for 1602.

“These are probably $600,000 events,” Mr. Stephany said.

Even with fa├žade grants and streetscape loans, buyers would still be looking at construction loans of at least $400,000 for each building. Everything is not bleak, however. IGA plans to reopen the shuttered Foodland next to 1602 Broadway, and brothers Kevin and Adam Costa have purchased 1603 Broadway to open their Crested Duck Charcuterie, “an artisanal meat market.” At least initially, the apartments may be the hotter part of the properties.

“I do think the first floors will come,” Mr. Stephany said. “I’m not sure they will come first.”

Susheela Nemani-Stanger, a URA project development specialist, believes loft apartments would suit college students who appreciate their proximity to mass transit.

“They would be perfect for students from the Art Institute or Culinary Institute,” she said.

For more information on 1600, 1601, 1602 or 1619 Broadway Ave., Beechview, call 412-255-6612 or go to



2009 2010
SALES 138 147
MEDIAN PRICE $45,000 $62,000
HIGHEST PRICE $505,000 $380,000


2009 2010
SALES 143 134
MEDIAN PRICE $121,250 $137,000
HIGHEST PRICE $800,000 $595,000


2009 2010
SALES 141 137
MEDIAN PRICE $12,000 $13,000
HIGHEST PRICE $750,000 $669,000


2009 2010
SALES 462 467
MEDIAN PRICE $65,000 $68,000
HIGHEST PRICE $625,000 $465,000


2009 2010
SALES 245 208
MEDIAN PRICE $33,000 $31,800
HIGHEST PRICE $200,000 $255,000


2009 2010
SALES 121 148
MEDIAN PRICE $49,000 $45,000
HIGHEST PRICE $133,000 $147,500


2009 2010
SALES 58 54
MEDIAN PRICE $9,900 $10,100
HIGHEST PRICE $77,000 $55,000


2009 2010
SALES 45 72
MEDIAN PRICE $66,000 $63,000
HIGHEST PRICE $147,400 $335,000


2009 2010
SALES 115 119
MEDIAN PRICE $67,000 $73,000
HIGHEST PRICE $226,000 $229,550


2009 2010
SALES 58 55
MEDIAN PRICE $16,201 $20,000
HIGHEST PRICE $79,500 $76,500


2009 2010
SALES 17 23
MEDIAN PRICE $43,100 $22,000
HIGHEST PRICE $169,900 $125,000

Beechview Map

At a glance
  • Website:
  • Size: 1.46 square miles
  • Population: 8,772 (2000 census)
  • School district: Pittsburgh Public (
  • Enrollment: 25,326
  • Average 2010 SAT scores: 425 verbal, 446 math, 423 writing
  • Taxes on a property assessed at 100,000 : $2,870; City: $1,080 (10.8 mills), school district: $1,392 (13.92 mills), county: $398 (4.69 mills), wage tax: 3 percent (1 percent to the city, 2 percent to the school district)
  • Claim to fame: Named for the many beech trees found on its hillsides, Beechview (incorporated as a borough in 1905 and annexed to the city four years later) has the steepest street in hilly Pittsburgh, and quite possibly the world. Canton Street has a grade of 37 percent — that is, it rises 37 feet per 100 feet of run. So steep is the bottom half, that residents aren’t supposed to drive down it.

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