The Brighton Heights Citizens Federation and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh are fixing a hole – or at least beginning to with a new housing project on the Northside.
The bowl shaped property at the corner of McClure Avenue and Antrim was former site of the St. John’s Hospital in Brighton Heights, but BHCF President Pete Bellisario says many residents simply refer to it as “the big hole” now.
Last month, the URA approved the project to construct three single family homes on the former St. John’s hospital site. The project is now completely financed and contractors have received notice to begin construction.
Bellisario said that for many neighbors, this project has been “15 years in the making.”
“I think it has a great location. I think the neighborhood as a whole is strong,” said Thomas Cummings, housing director at the URA. “I think the housing units that are being developed are strong.”
Cummings said the home should be completed by early to mid summer and that they are the first phase of redeveloping the land to include 17 to 18 single-family homes.
The BHCF and the URA hope that the success of nearby housing projects such as Washburn Square in Brightwood, Columbus Square in Manchester and the townhomes on Federal Street in the Central Northside are good indications that there is a healthy market for new homes in the Northside.
“I believe we’ll be well-received by the market,” said Cummings.
Bellisario said that it is more than likely that the home owners will receive secondary loans from URA.
Going forward, both Cummings and Bellisario agree that the “larger site is more challenging” due to the significant grade changes of the land, which gave it the name “the hole.”
The next step is to find a contractor to fill the hole and begin finding ways to finance the next phase of the project said Cummings.
Other than the unevenness of the land, the URA and BHCF are concerned about houses around the property that were abandoned soon after the hospital shut down.
“People lost faith in that anyone was going to do anything down there,” said Bellisario, who hopes the city will allocate funds to help renovate and demolish the abandoned properties.
“We have to do this, the only question is how we’re going to do this,” Bellisario said.