Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bloomfield Development Begs Issue of Affordable Housing

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bloomfield Development Begs Issue of Affordable Housing

Article excerpt

Milhaus, the developer of a 625-unit apartment complex near the 40th Street Bridge in Lawrenceville, has presented preliminary plans to the Bloomfield Development Corp. for a five-story mix of apartments and retail at the western gateway to Bloomfield.

It would eliminate the Bloomfield IGA supermarket, a VFW hall, a residence and two large billboards.

A meeting will be held for the developer to present plans to the public at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the West Penn Hospital Nursing School, 4900 Friendship Ave.

Christina Howell, executive director of the Bloomfield Development Corp., said Milhaus has presented "very preliminary plans to us. We don't have drawings to get out to the neighborhood. But what they have discussed with us is approximately 220 market-rate rentals, some fully furnished."

Milhaus spokesman Thomas Bost said further details will be announced at the public meeting.

Milhaus is in the process of building Arsenal 201 between Butler Street and the Allegheny River and 39th and 40th streets in Lawrenceville. The first 102 units are open and leasing now. Phase one is expected to be finished in June, and construction of phase two is to begin at the end of this year, with about 19,000 feet of retail expected.

The 1.7-acre Bloomfield site is under agreement for sale. The list price is $6.75 million, but it could not be determined whether that is the negotiated price.

It would be beneficial right about now for someone to calculate the tipping point for new market-rate apartments in Pittsburgh. Consider that vacancy rates in new high-end buildings are at about 40 percent, which the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported from an Apartment Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh meeting last week.

Developers are not going to build affordable housing without significant incentives or massive scale, but inclusive pricing is what we need more of now and will need more of in the future.

"In our preliminary meeting, I pressed a little bit to explain that many of our older adult residents would like to stay in the neighborhood but need single-floor accessible living," Ms. Howell said. "It seems a shame this would not offer something they could afford. …

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