City of Pittsburgh Announces Legislation to Launch Pilot Program on Downtown Conversion
Pilot program will aid in converting historic downtown office space into residences and increase affordable housing in the Downtown neighborhood.
PITTSBURGH – Today, the City of Pittsburgh announced it will present legislation to the Pittsburgh City Council to re-appropriate $2.1 million in ARPA funds to support a new pilot program that will support residential conversion of historic office buildings to residential in Downtown.
The City will be joining efforts from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and State Senators Costa and Fontana as well as members of the Allegheny County delegation, to create a $9 million program aimed at increasing the supply of affordable workforce housing, and support the overall health and vitality of Downtown Pittsburgh.
"I am pleased to announce that the City and Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA), in partnership with the State and Allegheny County, are advancing a Downtown Conversion Pilot Program that seeks to improve the vitality of Downtown Pittsburgh by converting a portion of the vacant commercial office space into mixed-income developments that include affordable and workforce housing,” said Mayor Ed Gainey. “We are excited to join State Senators Jay Costa and Wayne Fontana, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, the URA, and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership in this endeavor."
The legislation being introduced to Pittsburgh City Council includes allocating $2.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to the URA for capitalizing the fund. This will add to the $3 million that the Commonwealth has already granted to the URA for this purpose. The Downtown Conversion Pilot Program guidelines are still being developed and will require approval by the URA Board before an application can be released. In the meantime, anyone with interest in the program is invited to contact the URA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Downtown Conversion Program is a great opportunity to recover from the devastating impacts that COVID-19 had on our Downtown commercial buildings,” said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa. “Providing funding to assist converting these spaces will jump start the creation of needed and desired residential properties and reinvigorate the Golden Triangle. I am proud to be a contributing member to the fund that will allow this to move forward and I commend all of the partners that came together to make this happen.”
“The City of Pittsburgh is the heart of Allegheny County and the economic engine of Western Pennsylvania,” said State Senator Wayne Fontana. “The Downtown Pittsburgh Conversion Program is a bold and innovative idea to ensure that the City continues to drive economic prosperity, while ensuring equitable access to housing. I am most excited that all levels of government—the Mayor, County Executive, and state delegation to the General Assembly—working with the building owners and the Downtown Partnership have come together to act in the best interests of our constituents.”
“As the market has changed over the past few years, including changes to the office market, we must also adjust,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “The residential market in downtown and the surrounding areas remains strong and it only makes sense to transition to that need. This effort also invests in the continued vibrancy of downtown which is the heart of our region.”
“Our growing residential community is making Downtown a more vibrant and resilient neighborhood, supporting our retailers and restaurants while also activating some of our beautiful historic buildings,” said President and CEO of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership Jeremy Waldrup. “We greatly appreciate the leadership of Mayor Gainey, County Executive Fitzgerald, Senator Costa, and Senator Fontana in securing funds for this pilot project and look forward to working with them to identify additional resources to support more housing opportunities in Downtown.”