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Developers pitch multi-hued apartment building for Greensburg

Jacob Tierney
| Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
A computerized rendering gives a preview of apartments proposed for West Otterman Street in Greensburg.
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A computerized rendering gives a preview of apartments proposed for West Otterman Street in Greensburg.

Designers of a $2 million apartment building proposed for an empty lot at 333 W. Otterman St. said the project will incorporate brightly colored red, yellow and orange blocks to evoke the sun and symbolize “the dawn of a new era” for the property.

The development will “rise from the ashes” on the property left vacant by a house fire, said Ben Samson, designer of the project for Front Studio Architects of Pittsburgh.

“It really is a harbinger of change for the area,” said Samson, whose company is working with Atlas Development of Pittsburgh to develop the building of 14 two-bedroom apartments.

Greensburg's Historical and Architectural Review Board and the planning commission have recommended the project for approval, so a favorable vote at next month's city council meeting is all that remains before work can begin.

If approved by council at its Aug. 8 meeting, the project is expected to be completed by next summer.

The apartment complex will be marketed to young professionals — which is in line with Greensburg's goal of attracting residents to the area, said review board secretary Lee Calisti.

“I think that, in turn, has a lot of positive ramifications, because if they choose to stay here, they choose to spend their money here, they choose to build their businesses here and they choose to raise their families here,” he said.

The lot has been empty since the two-story brick home that used to stand there was destroyed by fire last year.

Approving development of the lot outside the city's historic district with a modern design apartment building was an easy task, according to city planning director Barbara Ciampini.

“People always want to look at historic buildings, and that's great, and we need to preserve our historic buildings. But we also need to encourage modern architecture,” she said.

The colorful apartment complex will brighten a neighborhood with many dilapidated buildings.

“We're trying to get rid of the blight, and this is a wonderful project to do that,” Ciampini said, adding that the city needs more housing.

Several city apartment projects began development recently, and officials hope they will attract more young people who want to live and work downtown in a city dominated by commuters.

“It's that whole millennial concept ... people want to live in that urban core, walk to the bar, get a drink, get a bite to eat, walk home,” she said.

Despite the modern look, in a way the development marks the start of a return to the past for Greensburg — with people living and working downtown, Ciampini said.

“Our city used to be riddled with residential homes,” she said. “We're going back to our roots. It's going back to that ‘life after 5' that we're trying desperately to bring back to the city.”

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or jtierney@tribweb.com.

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