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Hazelwood welcomes new houses

Pittsburgh Post GazetteWednesday, May 30, 2007
By Diana Nelson Jones,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

City officials and neighborhood leaders broke ground yesterday on the future site of two new townhouses, among six three-bedroom residences to be built in Hazelwood. They will be the first new homes in the neighborhood in about 15 years, said Jim Richter, executive director of the Hazelwood Initiative.

The $1.5 million project featuring four townhouses and two single-family homes is being developed under the auspices of the Urban Redevelopment Authority. It has been planned for six or seven years, said Jerome Dettore, executive director of the URA.

Four townhouses will be built on Sylvan Avenue, across from the long-vacant Gladstone School. Monongahela Street and Homewood Avenue will each get a new single-family detached home. The townhouses are expected to sell for $129,500, the houses for $135,500. Two homes will be subsidized for home owners who make less than 80 percent of the area’s median income, according to the mayor’s office.

Vanessa Anderson has lived between the two townhouse lots for nine years. They have been vacant for much longer, said Arlene Dobbs, a 45-year resident of the street.

“I’ll be glad to see the weeds go,” said Ms. Dobbs. “Glad to see the land put to good use.”

“It’ll be a brighter place,” said Ms. Anderson, who considered the prospect of four new households on each side of her, saying, “I hope they’re good neighbors.”

She said she has walked to the curb regularly to confront people hanging out in cars whom she presumed were there to sell drugs, she said.

The Rev. Tim Smith, board chair of the Hazelwood Initiative, also has confronted visitors with questionable intentions.

“It has been quiet for the past year, and I think that’s why,” she said, adding that otherwise, the street is peaceful, with lots of homeowners.

As District 5 Councilman Doug Shields described Hazelwood, “You’re six minutes from Oakland and connected to everywhere.”

To give the Hazelwood housing development a boost, the city committed community development block grant money to cover an almost $300,000 gap in financing, Mr. Richter said.

“It’s a sunny day in Hazelwood,” Mr. Richter said yesterday. “Maybe it’s a sign of a sunny future.”

(Diana Nelson Jones can be reached at or 412-263-1626. )

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