Plans to turn former Forbes Elementary site into senior housing move forward
Penn Hills council unanimously approved a Pittsburgh development firm’s plans to demolish a former elementary school and build in its place an apartment building for senior housing along Saltsburg Road.
The project depends on whether the firm, A.M. Rodriguez Associates, receives funding for the project through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
Cindy Picone, the firm’s vice president, said she expects to hear from PHFA by May. If those funds become available, construction for the Emerald Hill Retirement Residence could start May 2020, she said.
“We’re seeking $1.25 million in tax credits, which equates to $12.5 million over 10 years,” Picone said, adding the firm plans to sell the credits to investors to fund the project and provide affordable housing.
A.M. Rodriguez Associates received approval in November from the Penn Hills School District to purchase the 16-acre property at 5785 Saltsburg Road for $475,000. The firm has since gained approval from the municipality’s planning department and commission.
Council’s green light for the project was the last approval the firm needed before hearing from PHFA. If that money does not come through, the project is off, Picone said.
Picone said there will be 52 units within the building available to seniors age 62 and older. There will be one- and two-bedroom apartments with rent from $710 to $950, including utilities. Prices depend on tenant income levels and apartment sizes.
One Penn Hills resident, Pauline Calabrese, voiced concerns about seniors bringing in other people to live with them.
Picone said that would be a violation of the tenant’s lease and could result in eviction. She said there will be a full-time janitor who lives on site and a part-time property manager who lives off-site.
Picone said A.M. owns 24 properties scattered throughout Allegheny, Blair and Mercer counties, along with some in Ohio.
The developer said the apartment building will be similar to its CMS Housing in Plum along Repp Road, a 58-unit building for tenants age 55 and older.
The site was the former Forbes Elementary. The school closed in 2014 when the district consolidated its three elementary schools into one new building.
The district had a lease-to-own agreement with Connect Four STEM Academy, a preschool in Penn Hills, for Forbes in 2015 but the $275,000 deal fell through in 2017 when the preschool declared bankruptcy.
Allegheny County real estate records place the property’s assessed value at $5.5 million.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .