URA Board to Advance Proposals on Land Bank, Affordable Housing, and Small Businesses

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 9, 2017) - The Board of Directors of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) is set to vote at their regular meeting on Thursday on a full agenda that includes five key initiatives of Mayor Peduto's administration.

"These items continue our work to advance affordable housing, opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses, and facilitate the recycling of vacant and abandoned properties for community development" said Kevin Acklin, Chairman of the URA Board.   


2017 Low Income Housing Tax Credit Application Program 

The URA is also set to open the 2017 Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Pre-Application process for those developments seeking an award of nine percent (9%) LIHTCs from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. Given the limited number of 9% LIHTCs allocated to Pennsylvania, this process ensures all potential projects in Pittsburgh have equal opportunity to seek support from the URA and City of Pittsburgh. Potential applicants can find the Pre-Application on the URA website or by following this link.  


Pittsburgh Land Bank 

The URA Board will vote to authorize a cooperation agreement among the URA, City of Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh Land Bank (PLB) for the coordination and transfer of properties and shared administrative services. 

Through the agreement, the Authority will continue to work in partnership with the Pittsburgh Land Bank and the City of Pittsburgh on the recycling of distressed properties to more effectively achieve their shared goals and facilitating community-driven development. Once adopted, Authority staff will establish guidelines and continue to work with CDCs, the PLB, and City to optimize community driven redevelopment of vacant, abandoned and tax delinquent parcels.  


East Liberty Detective Building 

The Board will vote on final actions related to the redevelopment of the former city Detective Building in East Liberty to facilitate the attraction and expansion of Schoolhouse Electric and Supply Company to Pittsburgh. At the October 2016 meeting, the Board approved the sale of the former Detective Building, located at 206 North Euclid Avenue, to Detective Building LLC. Today the Board will consider final action to approve full renovation of the building and the addition of approximately 35,000 square feet of creative office and light manufacturing, and authorization of a $300,000 enterprise zone loan. Schoolhouse has grown from a small lighting manufacturer into a robust design, manufacturing and supply company of American-made light fixtures and accessories for homes and businesses, with over 120 employees. By expanding its operations to Pittsburgh, Schoolhouse expects to gain operational and logistics efficiencies for its mid-Atlantic and east coast markets. Total projects costs are $8,223,455. 


Squirrel Hill Affordable Housing 

The URA Board will also review the request for authorization of a Rental Housing Development and Improvement Program (RHDIP) Loan to Squirrel Hill Gateway Lofts LP in an amount up to $500,000 for the Squirrel Hill Gateway development. Located at the site of the former Poli’s restaurant, the development includes construction of a new, six-story building with the four upper floors consisting of 33 affordable rental units; half of the units are for people with intellectual and/or mental health disabilities. The first two floors, comprising 11,700 square feet, will be developed for Jewish Residential Services, Inc. (JRS) for an expanded Howard Levin Club House and administrative offices as a separate condominium unit. 

This project was awarded a 2016 Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) allocation by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA). Total development costs are $16,637,175.  The developer, ACTION-Housing Inc., has secured an equity commitment from the National Equity Fund in the amount of $12,063,830 from the sale of the low-income housing tax credits and will reinvest up to $267,597 of its development fee.  Additionally, JRS will purchase its commercial condominium unit for $3,805,748. The requested RHDIP loan will complete the project financing.  

Of the 33 units in Squirrel Hill Gateway Lofts, 29 will be one-bedroom apartments, four at 20% area median income (AMI), 13 at 50% AMI, and 12 at 60% AMI. The remaining four units will be two-bedroom apartments, renting to households at or below 60% AMI. Additionally, a 23-space parking deck will be built across the street on a triangular lot.  


Downtown Small Business Retail 

The URA Board will consider repurposing city owned retail space on Smithfield Street for small businesses adjacent to Mellon Square garage, with an emphasis on placing small, local, minority and women owned businesses. The Board will vote to authorize a license agreement with the City of Pittsburgh and/or Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh and advertising of bids for selective interior demolition, cleaning and refurbishment of the vacant retail space. Undertaking the work outlined in these resolutions will allow the Authority to renovate the retail space and provide opportunities for small businesses in a high visibility downtown location.