Above: Politicians, partners and community members participated in a nail pounding ceremony between 1320 and 1324 Woodland Avenue. (Photo by Kelsey Shea).

In the past four years, Brightwood Civic Group members identified homeownership as they key to improving their neighborhood.

BCG members, community developers and politicians celebrated that concept this morning at a nail pounding ceremony on Woodland Avenue that marked their continued effort to revitalize old homes in Brightwood.

The BCG acquired seven decrepit houses on Woodland Avenue in Brightwood that they are now redeveloping into single family homes with the help of the Northside Leadership Conference, The Northside Community Development Fund and Rivers Casino.

Today’s nail pounding marked the beginning of construction on the neighboring homes at 1320 and 1324 Woodland Avenue, the second and third homes to be redeveloped as a part of the Woodland Avenue Revitalization Project.

“The more homeowners we get interested in our neighborhood, the better our neighborhood becomes,” said BCG President Diane Annis-Dixon, who noted that absentee landlords were a problem in Brightwood.

Though still unfinished, 1320 Woodland Ave. is already under sales agreement, and the new owner is working with developers to choose installed details in the kitchen and bathroom.

The two-bedroom 1324 Woodland is currently still on the market for $130,000.

Last year, the BCG celebrated the completion of the project’s first home at 1407 Woodland. The three-bedroom homes had a secured buyer, but due to a job transfer, the house is back on the market for $119,000.

Though the first home is still on the market, Annis Dixon said she does not anticipate there will be problems selling the second and third once they are finished.

“It’s a beautiful home,” said Annis-Dixon. “We have open houses almost every day.”

Developers believe that the most appealing feature of the homes may be the 10-year tax abatement which NSLC Assistant Director of Real Estate Jon Huck said will save the owner thousands of dollars each year.

In the years since the BCG’s work began on Woodland Avenue, Annis-Dixon said she’s seen a ripple effect on the street that includes neighbors improving the exteriors of their home and yards to more kids playing on the street.

“1320 and 1324 are two key parcels of Phase One of the Woodland Avenue Revitalization Project. We continue our ongoing efforts to revitalize Brightwood, encourage homeownership and bring vitality back to our neighborhood,” she said.   

As well as thanking the community group, politicians and project financers, NSLC Executive Director Mark Fatla specifically thanked Central Northside resident Daniel McNamara who volunteered his time as an architect on the project.

 A recent transplant from Philadelphia, McNamara was looking for a way to get involved in his new community when he met Fatla and John Huck of the Northside Leadership Conference who directed him to the project.

“Seeing redevelopment in a neighborhood like this is really enjoyable,” said McNamara who is an architect at Fukui Architects downtown.

Fatla also noted that Rivers Casino played a major role in helping finance the project.

Sanford Rivers, attended the nail pounding ceremony on behalf of Rivers Casino. He explained that the casino was excited to be involved in the neighborhood and “be a good corporate citizen.”

Funding for the project was also provided by the Northside Community Development Fund and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh.