Monday, January 30, 2012

County Redevelopment Authority OKs $1M In Grants

Allegheny County Map

Allegheny County's Redevelopment Authority has approved almost $1 million in grants to help cultural, educational and recreational institutions carry out major projects.  Those monies will go to:

-  Improvements at the Jewish Community Center in Scott. ($250,000)
   Carpeting and locker room equipment will be replaced.

-  Modernization at the Teamster Temple in Lawrenceville. ($250,000)
   Upgrading of the building's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.  Other changes will help make the structure more accessible to people with disabilities.\

-  Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.  ($200,000)
   Part of a $6 million expansion project for the dance company and its ballet school in Pittsburgh's Strip District.

-  Great Allegheny Passage improvements in McKeesport. ($100,000)
   The new on-street trail will have marked bike lanes along Fifth Avenue, Locust Street and Strawberry Alley.

-  A community center in Penn Hills. ($50,000)
   Improve basketball courts, a playground and sidewalks

-  USS Requin docked outside the Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore. ($125,000)
    Restore the outside of the submarine.

Allegheny County
Carnegie Science Center
Great Allegheny Passage
Jewish Community Center
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
Penn Hills
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Sunday, January 29, 2012

North Side Redevelopment Well On Its Way

North Side's Garden Theater

Throughout the 1990s, one building after another on the Federal Street and North Avenue corridors of the Central Northside (Mexican War Streets) went dark because of the Garden Theater's then-status as a porn movie house.  Now, 23 years after the first effort to declare the corridor blighted for redevelopment, the wheels are starting to turn.   It was almost five years ago that the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority bought the theater for $1.1 million and six years ago that the Supreme Court made its long-awaited decision that exonerated the URA for trying to seize it.

Nakama, a chain of Japanese restaurants, recently completed a lease agreement to open a second Pittsburgh location in the former Masonic Hall beside the Garden Theater.  Between eight and 12 apartments are planned for the upper three floors.  There are arched windows reminiscent of Moorish architecture overlooking Allegheny Commons Park.  This type of building should prove to be premier living space with occupancy expected by summer of 2013.

Franjo Construction Co. has begun to stabilize two small late-19th century buildings at 1113 and 1115 Federal.  The basement beams and floor joists need to be shored up and new roofs need to be installed.
Big beautiful cast iron columns and tin ceiling panels were discovered when the buildings were first cleaned out.

Across the street, Lawrenceville developer Bill Barron has been stabilizing a former hot dog shop for its redevelopment as a proposed taqueria.  Lease agreements for two other restaurants along North Avenue have been signed by owners of the Round Corner Cantina in Lawrenceville and the former Firehouse Lounge in the Strip. There's also interest from a yoga studio and photography studio for the upstairs of the theater itself.

The best-case scenario is there are shovels in the ground by early summer on redevelopment of the adjacent Masonic Hall, Garden Theater and former Apache Lounge.  Philadelphia-based Zukin Realty is redeveloping about a dozen blighted buildings the URA spent more than $5 million amassing since 1994. The buildings are all in the block within Federal, North, Eloise and Reddour streets.
The facade and front half of the Garden Theater, the last nickelodeon-style specimen in the city and one of the last in the country, will be saved.

Parking for 25-30 cars will be carved out behind what remains of the theater. The developers are working on an agreement for additional parking for residents of the Masonic Hall in a 500-space parking garage on Federal.

The first rehabbed retail property in the two corridors was a formerly blighted bar that had been vacant for at least two decades.  As that rehab progressed, a stunning building with iron doorway columns and arched side windows was revealed.  That building is now a Crazy Mocha coffeehouse.  And beside that, an empty building was turned into the Deli on North.

Those two and the ongoing rehabilitation of the former Toula's Hot Dog Shop on Federal have received funds from the URA's Streetface Program.  The momentum began with completion of a new Carnegie Library branch late in 2009 and the rapid sale of 23 Federal Hill townhouses, with 19 more to follow.

The redevelopment of the neighborhood is long-awaited but extremely exciting.  And it is definitely now in high gear.

Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
Mexican War Streets
North Side

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Wal-Mart In North Huntingdon

A new Walmart Supercenter will open Wednesday in North Huntingdon. The store is set to open at 7am and will be especially good for senior citizens who favor having the low-cost giant in the area.  The store will also strengthen the local tax base so the local pols are pleased as well.

Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate
North Huntingdon

Monday, January 9, 2012

Architectural Award For CMU

The Gates Center for Computer Science and Hillman Center

A recently constructed Carnegie Mellon University research and classroom facility has received the highest award in the architecture profession.  CMU's Gates Center for Computer Science and Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies has been recognized as one of nine projects worldwide to receive the 2012 American Institute of Architects Honor Award for Architecture.
The Gates and Hillman centers, which opened in 2009, share a joint space and are located in a challenging spot: the eastern slope of a steep valley that intersects the campus which feeds into Junction Hollow in Oakland. With five main entrances on three different levels and two major pedestrian bridges, they also serve as a crossroads tying the campus together.  Designed by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects of Atlanta, Ga., they serve as home to four departments of CMU's School of Computer Science.

Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate

Monday, January 2, 2012

Help With Your Property Reassessments

LHRC Workshop: Allegheny County Property Reassessments

If you own a house or other real estate in the City of Pittsburgh or in Mt. Oliver, chances are you have already received a notice of your new property assessment from Allegheny County. (Notices to property owners outside the City are due in your mailboxes sometime in 2012.)

The filing deadline for an informal review of your new property valuation is Jan 13 and the deadline for a request of a formal appeal on your new property assessment is due to the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment Appeals & Review on Feb 10.

To learn more about this process and the Allegheny County Reassessment of 2012, come for an informational session by Pittsburgh attorney Greg Biernacki of Real Estate Tax Consultants, Inc.

When: Saturday, Jan 7
Time: 10:00 — 11:30am
Where: Landmarks Housing Resource Center
744 Rebecca Ave, Wilkinsburg, PA 15221
Click here for a map and driving directions.

RSVPs are appreciated. Contact Mary Lu Denny at 412-471-5808 ext. 527 or

Please note that PHLF does not provide tax or legal advice. This session is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal or tax advice. Please consult your own tax and legal advisors with respect to questions or issues.