Renters Find 'Emerald' City in Pittsburgh's West End
Spatter, Sam, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Nestled in a valley of the Fairywood neighborhood in the city's West End, the Emerald Gardens townhome community boasts a 90 percent occupancy rate and a fresh new look.
That's a major improvement from its history under the name Westgate Village.
When Tryko Partners Inc. of New Jersey purchased the 436-unit complex in 2007, the buildings were empty and deteriorated from lack of maintenance. The property had gone into foreclosure in April 2006.
"We saw that complex as a great opportunity to turn the apartment around," said Yitzchok Rokowsky, chief executive of Tryko Partners. "We like the Pittsburgh market. It is a stable market, and this was a project that really was in trouble. You can't always turn a project around in other areas as we have done in Pittsburgh."
The timing of the property coming on the market coincided with Tryko's plan to expand its niche failing properties, said Hirsch Chinn, the firm's local manager.
"Westgate presented us with the challenge and the freedom to create a brand-new market in an area that was waiting for an infusion of life," Chinn said.
"The challenge was to overcome the existing stigma associated with Westgate Village. On the other hand, once we overcame that obstacle, we were able to attract an excellent tenant base that continues to enjoy their lifestyle here at Emerald Gardens."
Rob Stephany, executive director of the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority, said he initially wasn't confident that Tryko could accomplish the job of restoring the apartments and attracting young and professional tenants to a site that had a negative reputation.
"But when I toured the complex recently, I found few vacancy signs -- most were in units recently renovated -- and found the owner had done a good job managing the apartments," he said.
Stephany said Emerald Gardens now has the ability to attract tenants who may have gone to a suburban apartment complex instead of remaining in the city.
Shane and Valerie Logan are among those young couples who have leased an apartment. They have been tenants at Emerald Gardens for just over a month -- and love their two-bedroom unit and the complex.
"We moved to Pittsburgh from Washington, Pa., to be closer to the city. And once we saw Emerald Gardens, that was our choice," Shane said.
The Logans selected their residence after viewing about four or five other apartments, he said. The monthly rent is $735, plus electricity and heat. …