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New apartments will be geared to middle income

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Jeremy Boren
Thursday, September 13, 2007

The first newly built Downtown apartments with rents geared toward middle-income people will be in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, where city planners hope to attract artists and others living on a budget.

Trek Development will put 60 apartments in the Century Building on Seventh Street with prices for studio, and one- and two-bedroom apartments from $450 to $1,250 a month, said Trek CEO William Gatti, who joined Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato to announce plans Wednesday for the 100-year-old building.

“They’ll be the most affordable new units that are coming available Downtown,” said Patricia Burk, vice president of housing and economic development for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

New housing below market price is uncommon Downtown, which counts most of its lower rents in aging high-rise mammoths such as the Mid-Town Towers and The Roosevelt.

Ravenstahl said residential development Downtown has focused on building pricey lofts and condos, but people with middle incomes should be able to live in the city’s center, as well.

“Sure, we want individuals who can purchase the million-dollar condos, but we need to have that mix,” Ravenstahl said. “We need to have that diversity of young and old, rich and middle-income people.”

High-end housing Downtown has demonstrated some success. For example, the owners of Piatt Place in the former Lazarus/Macy’s Building, have sold 35 percent of the building’s 65 condos at prices ranging from $350,000 to $1 million.

Onorato said as more people move in, more businesses and amenities will come to Downtown.

“This is the place in the next decade or two where activity is going to be going,” Onorato said. “This truly is the center of southwest Pennsylvania.”

Gatti said the $16 million in planned renovations would not have been possible without $515,155 in affordable housing tax credits that the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency approved Tuesday. The rents aren’t high enough to justify the debt Trek would accrue.

Gatti said the building will target “the style-conscious urban dweller on a budget.”

Trek will receive $3.2 million from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, $2.3 million from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, $2.3 million in historic tax credits, $2.3 million from the private Strategic Investment Fund and $750,000 from Allegheny County Economic Development.

That makes about $11.4 million in public and private assistance.

“Affordable housing options for artists and workers in the Cultural District and Downtown in general play an important role in the ongoing growth of the district as a residential neighborhood,” said Pittsburgh Cultural Trust President Kevin McMahon.

The building will have nine studios, 12 two-bedroom apartments and 39 one-bedroom apartments. Construction is expected to begin in spring.

Tenants will be able to move in by early 2009, Gatti said.

Jeremy Boren can be reached at or 412-765-2312.

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