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Wilkinsburg to Begin $10 million in Housing Renovations

Tuesday, October 12, 2010
By Len Barcousky, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A public-private partnership today unveiled plans to do housing restoration projects in Wilkinsburg worth almost $10 million.

“This investment will expand our ability to attract people back to Wilkinsburg,” Mayor John Thompson said after the announcement.

He was one of 10 speakers from government agencies and businesses that have undertaken re-use projects in the struggling borough of 19,000. The session was held at the new Landmarks Housing Resource Center in Wilkinsburg.

The larger effort announced today is an $8.6 million complete renovation of two early 20th century apartment houses. They are the Crescent Building, at Rebecca and Kelly avenues, and the Wilson Building, about a block away on Jeanette Street.

When work is completed next year, the two buildings will have 27 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Each will have a community room, laundry area and computer lab. Hosanna House, a community center and social services agency in Wilkinsburg, will provide support services to tenants, who must meet income guidelines.

The second project, budgeted at slightly more than $1 million, will restore three abandoned but architecturally significant homes on Jeanette Street and Holland Avenue. When renovation work is complete, those homes will be for sale to buyers who have income no greater than 120 percent of the area’s median income.

The apartment project also involves acquisition and demolition of three neighboring structures. It is being funded by loans and grants from Allegheny County’s Department of Economic Development; funds raised by the sale of Historic Tax Credits; private dollars from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh; and federal tax credits administered through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

Money for restoration of the three homes is being funded by Allegheny County and the Scaife Foundations.

This morning’s program also marked the grand opening of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation’s housing resource center. It is located at Jeanette Street and Rebecca Avenue in a former Packard dealership. It will provide workshops and programs dealing with home improvements and resource-saving “green” projects for Wilkinsburg residents,

The center will have a community open house for people in the neighborhood at 11 a.m. Saturday. That event will be followed at 12:45 p..m. by an inaugural workshop on the topic of restoring vacant lots as gardens and green spaces.

The cost for the workshop is $7. Those interested should call 412-471-5808, extn. 527, or e-mail to register.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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