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Developer proposes homes for higher-income families at edge of Hill District

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Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 2:12 p.m.
 

Bill Gatti noticed a trend as his Trek Development Group firm built dozens of homes for poor and lower middle-class families along a once declining residential gateway between the Hill District and Uptown.

“We noticed the subsidies were getting lower, the rents were getting higher and the incomes were getting higher,” Gatti said.

That gave Gatti the confidence to integrate market-rate rental and for-sale homes in the fourth phase of development in what has become known as the Dinwiddie Triangle, an area connecting the Hill and Uptown bounded by Dinwiddie, Reed and Colwell streets, once dominated by vacant lots and dilapidated houses.

Instead of rentals only, the latest phase includes up to 19 homes that would sell at market rates, Gatti said. Prices of the privately financed homes would be about $200,000. They would have modern, open-floor plans, two to three bedrooms and about 1,600 square feet of living space, he said.

“Your front vista will be the Downtown skyline, and your back windows will look into a wooded grove,” Gatti said. “These are free-standing (houses) with integral garages within walking distance to Downtown.”

The Urban Redevelopment Authority's board on Thursday is scheduled to vote whether to negotiate the sale of six URA-owned properties on Reed Street that Trek needs to move forward. The legislation suggests seeking a $500,000 state grant to pay for part of the project.

It's likely to pass because it has the support of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who appoints the URA's board members.

“By investing in this important residential development, we are continuing to transform the Hill District and Uptown,” Ravenstahl said in a prepared statement.

The project includes construction of 24 subsidized and four market-rate rental homes on the northern end of Dinwiddie Street. Trek has completed or nearly finished 73 residences along Dinwiddie. Trek's work on 26 lofts in the former Miller School is expected to be finished by summer.

Carl Redwood, head of the Hill District Consensus Group, said Trek has been open about its plans with his community group's planning forum. The group expressed concern about preserving the Hill's historic character, and Trek has tried to address those concerns, Redwood said.

“Not every developer has done that, but Trek has,” Redwood said. “We've supported all the phases so far.”

Redwood said many of the homes are set aside for low-income families. For example, he said families must have an annual income of $30,000 or less to be eligible to live in the Miller School Lofts. Redwood said the planning forum hasn't reviewed plans for Trek's 19 for-sale houses.

“Gentrification is one of our issues with development. The cost of living there keeps going up, but the amount of money people make at jobs doesn't, so slowly but surely people get displaced,” Redwood said.

Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or jboren@tribweb.com.

 

 

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