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More apartments in, houses out at Bakery Square 2.0 project in East Liberty

| Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 12:04 p.m.

Plans to develop 20 single-family houses have been dropped in favor of a second apartment building at the $100 million Bakery Square 2.0 project in East Liberty that is being developed by Walnut Capital Partners.

But residents who attended a community meeting on Wednesday at the Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside questioned the decision and had other concerns about what they see as a lack of parking planned for the project.

“I was looking forward to having new single-family housing built there. Why have you eliminated them?” asked Bonnie Schwartz, a homeowner in the adjacent Village of Shadyside.

Todd Reidbord, a partner of Walnut Capital which is a major apartment owner in Shadyside, said his company studied what kind of housing is preferred by employees of the orginial Bakery Square project on the other side of Penn Avenue. “(It) determined they preferred rental apartments, something we know more about,” he said.

Reidbord said plans are to begin construction of the first apartment building in March with a June 2014 opening.

It will be a five-story, 175-unit U-shaped building with underground parking built on the Putnam Street side. Rents will range from $900 to $1,000 per month.

Outside of that change, the project remains basically the same as outlined at a community meeting in May.

Reidbord said demolition of the existing Reizenstein School will begin shortly and that the steel will be reused in construction while the concrete will be smashed and used for roads and other items.

“Our plan is to use what is demolished,” he said.

The second apartment building, containing the same basic size and number of units as the first, will be built later on a site opposite the first apartment, he said.

Still part of the development is construction of several office buildings on Penn Avenue; construction of 20 or more rental townhouses, and building a new four-lane road that would allow parking on both sides. A bicycle path would be included along the road.

The townhouses won't be started until fall 2014 and construction of the offices will depend on demand from potential tenants, Reidbord said. “There will be no retail and no restaurants on the 12-acre site,” he said.

A major concern raised by residents of the Point Breeze area was parking on neighborhood streets by employees or visitors to Bakery Square 2.0.

“Homeowners have trouble now parking on their streets, such as McPherson, because of students from Chatham University and other facilities nearby,” said Marilyn Kennedy, a member of the Point Breeze Neighborhood group.

“We're trying to get the city to approve parking permits for these streets, but if the city doesn't, what can be done to prevent workers at Bakery Square 2.0 from parking on our streets? “ she asked.

Reidbord said an 850-car garage at Bakery Square is under used and can accommodate workers and visitors.

The meeting, attended by nearly 100, was scheduled by City Councilman William Peduto and included representatives from the Shadyside Action Coalition, East Liberty Development and the Point Breeze group.

Sam Spatter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7843 or sspatter@tribweb.com.

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