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New housing units set on Penn Avenue

By Ron DaParma
Thursday, April 17, 2008 

Three loft-style townhomes to be built in Bloomfield are another example of an “exciting” transformation of housing on Penn Avenue in four city neighborhoods, community leaders said Wednesday.Small projects like this one “can really stabilize a corner in a community,” Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said at an event marking the start of construction of an $800,000 residential complex at Penn and Gross Street. 

“There are amazing things happening along the Penn Avenue corridor, and this is just a little gem of a project, but it’s a missing tooth,” said Jeffrey Dorsey, executive director of Friendship Development Associates.

Dorsey’s organization, developer of the project, acquired the property nine years ago with housing development in mind.

A $462,000 equity investment by Landmarks Community Capital Corp., a nonprofit created last year by the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, moved it forward, he said.When the townhomes are completed in about 12 months, they will join dozens of single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums built or planned in Bloomfield, Garfield, Friendship and Lawrenceville, said Richard Swartz, executive director of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp.

These projects replace vacant lots and less desirable row housing, Swartz said.

About eight blocks away, Friendship Development is ready to start building the Glass Lofts, a “green” condominium project at Penn and Fairmont Street with 18 loft units, a restaurant, art studios and office space.

“We have commitments for eight sales already,” said Dorsey.

The units will range in size from 845 to 1,873 square feet and be priced from $180,000 to $330,000, according to the neighborhood group’s Internet site. But a number are reserved as “affordable” housing that can be purchased for about $80,000, he said.

As many as 80 single-family homes or townhomes have been built in the four neighborhoods in the past five years, Swartz estimated.

At the same time, about 35 businesses — mainly artists, studios and arts organizations — have moved into spaces in some of the vacant commercial buildings in the area.

Reducing neighborhood crime and developing Children’s Hospital in Lawrenceville were key to the transformation, officials said.



Ron DaParma can be reached or 412-320-7907.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633