The 4.3 acre plot between Juniata Street, Sedgwick Street and Columbus Avenue the Manchester Citizens Corporation purchased almost five years ago is finally ready for development — almost.
Jerome Jackson, associate director of MCC, said that he hoped they’d get the final green light on the 31-house development project by this fall, and that they’d begin construction next spring.
Sally Flinn of Fourth River Development, the private developer working with MCC, said there were a few reasons it’s taken so long to prepare the site for construction.
She said they had to navigate through several layers of financing since the project received money from the URA, the State, the Northside Community Development Fund, tax credits and other sources.
When the corporation purchased the parcel of land, it was a “brown field,” or toxic site, owned by American Electric, who once presided there.
MCC had to have heavy metals and other pollutants removed before building and received funding from the Department of Environmental Protection to clean up the site.
Flinn said she awaited final confirmation from the DEP that the site was cleaned as described and all pollutants had been removed.
Fourth River also waited for final approval on the project from the city before construction could begin.
When construction does begin, the first order of business will be to reconnect two sections of Juniata Street that were separated to build a baseball field years ago. Jackson said MCC will use part of its land to reconnect the street, so as not to cut into the field.
Flinn said they would build the road at the same time as the first five houses. Currently, MCC only has the money to construct the first five.
“We’re hoping that once we open up the five homes, we’ll be able to get presales [for the rest of the homes],” Jackson said.
All homes will range from $180,000 to $260,000, although prices could change by the time the houses are finished, Jackson said.
Flinn said that fitting the new houses into Manchester, which is Pittsburgh’s largest National Historic District, was important for them to do.
As a historic neighborhood within the City of Pittsburgh, any new construction in Manchester has to meet certain guidelines, Jackson said.
For example, a new house built among old, brick homes must also be brick, and one built among houses with wooden frames must also have a wooden frame. These houses will be built out of brick.
“We traveled through Manchester and spent hours studying the houses,” Flinn said.
There will also be two types of porches. One kind will stretch across the front of the houses. Houses situated on corners will have wrap-around porches.
On the inside, the homes will have either three or four bedrooms. The four bedroom models are 30 feet wide and have three and a half bathrooms, while the three bedroom models are 22 feet wide and have two and a half baths.
Some of the three bedroom models will be duplexes, and some will be single homes. All models feature a two car garage.
“They won’t have the biggest back yards, but they will have yard space,” Jackson said.
He said the Citizens Corporation bought the lot to prevent speculators from coming into the neighborhood and building a factory there.
“We knew that we could not allow the site to sit there and let someone else take it,” he said.