Housing Authority of Pittsburgh converting Allegheny Dwellings into mixed-income community
The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh announced the start of construction Wednesday on the $24.4 million conversion of a crime-plagued North Side housing project into new townhouses and apartments available to renters in all income brackets.
The authority previously demolished six barracks-style buildings housing 97 apartments in one section of Allegheny Dwellings at Henderson Street and Sandusky Court in Fineview. Plans call for the construction of 65 townhouses and apartments on the site and along nearby Federal Street.
Forty-seven of the units will be available to low-income tenants with the remainder being offered at market rates.
“We’re excited about this project and hopefully what it’s going to do to build bridges between the Dwellings and Fineview,” said Joanna Deming, executive director of the Fineview Citizens Council.
Downtown-based Trek Development and Allies and Ross Management and Development Corp., a housing authority subsidiary, are developing the site. The project is being funded through $5.6 million in low-income housing tax credits and $18.8 million in loans.
Built on the site of a former quarry between 1939 and 1944, Allegheny Dwellings was among a series of public housing projects built during the Great Depression designed to eliminate slum housing in Pittsburgh. The complex featured 272 apartments in buildings situated on three terraces along Sandusky Court, Letsche Street and Belleau Drive.
The housing authority since the mid-1990s has converted large depression-era projects in Manchester, the Hill District and Garfield into mixed-income communities. It has similar plans for the remainder of Allegheny Dwellings on Letsche and Belleau.
“It’s changing the face of public housing,” said authority Executive Director Caster D. Binion during a ground breaking ceremony on Sandusky Court. “We’re proud to say the residents are part of this process, and they’re working on this site.”
Six residents earned jobs as construction workers on the project, according to the authority.
Residents weren’t happy initially about being moved from their homes during construction, according to housing authority spokeswoman Michelle Sandidge. She read a letter written by Allegheny Dwellings Tenant Council President Cheryl Gainey.
Gainey wrote to Binion that she was angry about the plans at first, but came to realize that new housing would be a big improvement over 70-year-old tenements.
“I didn’t want to move. This is my home and I just got upset,” Gainey wrote. “For everyone who says were being moved out or displaced, you’re wrong. This is how you get something better, something new. How else do you think you’re going to get it redone?”