Central Northside plans to revitalize the neighborhood by 2015


A drawing of S&A Homes’s proposal for the Central Northside. (Image courtesy S&A Homes)

Sometimes it takes a seemingly impossible goal to bring about great change.

That’s one of the reasons the Central Northside Neighborhood Council added a year to its vision statement: “By the end of 2015 CNNC will transform all our neighborhood’s vacant lots and empty storefronts by filling them with thriving individuals, commerce and families of all kinds.”

In five years, CNNC hopes to fill more than 100 vacant lots and empty storefronts.

But two proposals from familiar Northside developers unveiled in July are the first step toward fulfilling that vision statement.

S&A Homes, who developed the new Federal Hill properties along Federal Street, and October Development, an historic renovation and construction firm, both introduced non-competitive plans at a CNNC meeting in early July to build or renovate more than 70 single-family houses apiece in the next few years.

Alfred DePasquale, a principal in October Development and resident of Deutschtown, said he plans to construct 34 new homes and renovate 11 existing units on and around Alpine and Jacksonia streets and on Sampsonia Way.

“When I saw the RFP, I was excited. Rehabs are what we do best. So I’m proposing to do those all at once,” DePasquale said. “The rehabs will help the new construction.”

October’s plan would then involve building the 34 new homes in four phases, which each phase taking between 10 and 14 months.

October’s new single-family homes will have between 1,700 to 2,250 square feet, two to three bedrooms and will echo the historic architecture of older homes nearby.

DePasquale said First National Bank, PNC and Dollar Bank have already showed interest in providing financing for the new construction. Because of the much lauded success of S&A Homes’s Federal Hill project, this project should not run into any financial problems.

He expects the new units to sell for between $150,000 and $275,000.

Federal Hill has been “the bestselling development for our company in three states,” said Andrew Haines, S&A’s vice president. “What’s amazing with Phase I is we’ve seen some of the best credit records of anyone around. We’re getting really educated, smart homebuyers.”

He said that a $90 million lending facility with M&T Bank would allow the home builder to construct 21 new homes and rehabilitate 3 more units.

The first phase, which Haines called “Phase III” because of his company’s two phases of Federal Hill, would be along Reddour, Arch and Carrington streets.

The second phase, or Phase IV, will be along Alpine Street.

“Alpine will come as the market pushes it that way,” Haines said.

Working with architect Daniel Rothschild, S&A’s proposed new family homes would resemble its brick units on Federal Street.

Unlike October, which wants to begin as soon as possible, S&A will not begin Phase III until they’re finished with Phase II on Federal Street.

Haines said Phase II would be 19 homes on the upper end of Federal Street, and will commence within 60 days.

Both company officials present at the meeting denied that a simultaneous construction process would slow one another down, but certain issues could overlap.

“Although we can move together, there’s a limited amount of Urban Redevelopment Authority funding,” Haines said. This funding would mostly be used on the rehabs.

Out of S&A’s 19 units to be built in Phase II on Federal Hill, 10 already have buyers lined up.

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