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Apartments eyed for former Health Department offices in Oakland

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By Sam Spatter
Monday, July 14, 2014, 10:33 p.m.

A developer plans to replace the former Allegheny County Health Department office in Oakland with apartments.

It's one of two housing developments proposed in Pittsburgh that need special-exception zoning approvals from the city Zoning Board of Adjustment. The board will meet on July 31.

Ambling University Development Group of Valdosta, Ga., wants to build 389 apartments at the 3333 Forbes Ave. site. In the other project, Jack Benoff of Solara Ventures in Philadelphia plans to convert a building at 2419 Smallman St. in the Strip District into 38 to 40 condominiums.

Ambling would build, own and manage the Oakland apartments, according to Gary Wilson, a member of MWK Forbes LLC, which acquired the property from the county for $4.9 million. There would be ground-floor commercial and retail space, according to an application filed with the zoning board.

MWK plans to demolish two houses on Forbes to build a 125- to 150-room boutique hotel and parking garage. The garage would include spaces to accommodate tenants of the apartments.

Among 63 projects Ambling has undertaken are campus residence halls — a $180 million development under way at Millersville University in Lancaster County, and a $20 million project at West Virginia State University in Institute.

Solara's condo proposal follows its successful sell-out of the 58-unit Otto Milk Building Condominium in the Strip District. Solara also converted a building at 941 Penn Ave., Downtown, into residences.

Sam Spatter is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7843 or

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