Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

School, Housing Happily Share Space

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

School, Housing Happily Share Space

Article excerpt

At 5:25 p.m. one recent evening, Tamara Crane walked into the lobby at 201 Stanwix St., Downtown, and punched the elevator button. She was on her way home to the 10th floor. On the other side of a glass partition, an elevator opened and a teacher got off, finally leaving City Charter High School for the day and exiting onto a plaza behind the building.

Reuse of existing buildings is what PMC Property Group does, but its pairing of purpose in the former Verizon headquarters may be the most unusual of developments and redevelopments in the city -- luxury apartments atop a high school, two-thirds of whose students qualify for free or reduced lunch prices.

In fact, the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Association of Office and Industrial Properties is considering 201 Stanwix, among others, for an award for best mixed-use reuse in 2011.

The glass partition separates the four residential elevators from the school's two. City High moved into the first four floors on Jan. 6. Floors 5-12 include 158 apartments.

"There's a nice symmetry here," said Richard Wertheimer, CEO and principal of City High. "We start at 7:30, 8 o'clock, when many tenants leave [for work] and we end at 4:15 or so, before they come home." The arrangement "makes a great deal of sense. This has been a wonderful relationship. I think it's very cool."

PMC -- Philadelphia Management and Companies -- rents the school's 80,000 square feet at "affordable market-rate commercial" rate, said Bob Edelman, PMC Property Group's supervisor in Pittsburgh.

The other 205,000 square feet include 126 one-bedroom and 32 two- bedroom apartments renting from $850 to $2,000. More than half are already rented less than a year after PMC began interior renovations, he said.

Ms. Crane moved in Oct. 1 and was the only person on the 10th floor for five weeks. Now she has neighbors on both sides.

"I found it on Craigslist when I was apartment hunting," she said. Then living in Honolulu working for the federal government, she was transferred here and called on friends in Pittsburgh to look at the places she was finding online.

"A high school friend here looked in this building and told me, 'You're going to love it.' "

At first, she didn't. Not everything was ready and there were a few heating glitches, "but I love it now. I have a small one- bedroom, 650 square feet, and an awesome view. I can see the river and the Fort Pitt Bridge."

The developer used federal historic tax credits, so it was required to comply with historic standards of the National Park Service. It had to retain the corrugated metal doors in the lobby, the marble columns and walls throughout the building, "the light fixtures that look like flying saucers, anything that shows original details," Mr. Edelman said.

The executive suites on the 12th floor included marble bathrooms. …

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