ShareThis Page
Allegheny

Housing isn't in latest plan for East Liberty's former Penn Plaza site

Bob Bauder
| Monday, April 2, 2018, 5:00 p.m.
An architectural rendering of new buildings planned for the site of Penn Plaza Apartments along Penn Avenue in East Liberty.
An architectural rendering of new buildings planned for the site of Penn Plaza Apartments along Penn Avenue in East Liberty.
An architectural rendering of new buildings planned for the site of Penn Plaza Apartments along Penn Avenue in East Liberty. Downtown-based LG Realty Advisers is scheduled Tuesday to brief the Pittsburgh Planning Commission on the development.
An architectural rendering of new buildings planned for the site of Penn Plaza Apartments along Penn Avenue in East Liberty. Downtown-based LG Realty Advisers is scheduled Tuesday to brief the Pittsburgh Planning Commission on the development.

The owners of the demolished Penn Plaza apartments in East Liberty have pledged up to $2 million for low-income housing in Pittsburgh, but activists say it won't help displaced residents.

Pennley Park South, a subsidiary of Downtown-based LG Realty Advisors, is set to brief Pittsburgh Planning Commission members Tuesday about plans for the nine-acre property along Penn Avenue.

The Penn Plaza Support and Action Coalition is urging the commission to reject the plan because it does not include low-income housing on site.

"We're just basically saying the community needs affordable housing," said Crystal Jennings, 34, of Elliot, a coalition member. "That's what were fighting for, affordable housing on that site, and we're going to keep fighting because residents want to come back to East Liberty."

Messages left with LG Realty and its attorney were not returned.

The owners previously announced plans for a $150 million mixed development that included a Whole Foods, a parking garage, offices and about 400 apartments.

A new plan filed with the city in February contains no provision for housing.

LG Realty has agreed to contribute 50 percent of increased tax revenue generated by the project into funds that would finance housing that's affordable for low-wage earners and reconstruction of neighboring Enright Parklet. Under the agreement, at least $2 million would go toward affordable housing at scattered sites and $1 million to park reconstruction.

The remaining 50 percent would be used to upgrade and reconnect Eva and South St. Clair streets and other infrastructure and utility improvements.

According to the redevelopment plan, work on two buildings will progress in phases starting with the first building at Penn and South Euclid avenues.

The buildings could include a hotel, stores, offices, a possible grocery store and parking garages for about 925 vehicles.

Penn Plaza, built in 1968, was part of an urban renewal effort that resulted in the mass demolition of homes and businesses in East Liberty. About 228 people lived in Penn Plaza, a mix of market-rate and low-income apartments, in 2015 when LG Realty notified residents it intended to close the complex.

The Planning Commission in 2016 rejected the company's redevelopment plans. Developers appealed the decision and Pittsburgh and four civic groups settled with the company in October.

Residents and community activists have complained the development displaced poor residents and further gentrifies East Liberty, the site of much high-end development in recent years. Rents in the neighborhood reach as high as $3,000 per month.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, bbauder@tribweb.com or on Twitter @bobbauder.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me