After redeveloping a department store, an office building and a five-and-dime in Downtown Pittsburgh, a Washington County developer is headed back to the suburbs for another big venture -- a 182-home residential enclave.
Millcraft Investments will formally break ground today on Piatt Estates, a 110-acre subdivision off Racetrack Road in Chartiers near The Meadows Racetrack and Casino.
While today marks the formal start of the Washington County project, crews have been at work for some time moving dirt, with about 70 percent of the site work already finished, said Marcus Piatt, vice president of Piatt Estates Chartiers, the entity formed to do the project.
"We're flying," he said.
Piatt Estates will feature a mix of high-end, custom-built luxury homes starting at $600,000 to $700,000, more traditional single-family homes starting at $300,000 and single-level patio homes starting at $270,000.
The luxury homes, with at least 3,000 square feet of space, will be built on one- to two-acre lots by Primrose Homes of Cranberry. The lower priced single family homes, which will occupy lots up to half an acre in size, and the patio homes will be constructed by S&A Homes.
Piatt Estates will be built in four phases over five years, with the first consisting of 56 homes -- 14 luxury, 18 patio and 24 traditional single-family homes.
It will mark Millcraft's first residential housing development in about 16 years. Mr. Piatt said the developer decided to move out of the city and into the suburbs, at least for this project, after sensing a demand for new homes in Chartiers.
"We see the growth happening," he said. "We view the Meadowlands like Cranberry was maybe five to eight years ago."
The area has seen the development of the racetrack and casino, the Tanger Outlets retail complex, and other commercial development, but there hasn't been much on the residential side, Mr. Piatt said.
Piatt Estates will be more than the next real estate venture for the Piatt family. It also will be their neighborhood.
Mr. Piatt; his dad Jack Piatt, Millcraft's chairman; and his brother Lucas already have homes on the site.
The Piatts owned 60 to 70 acres of the 110 acres that will be used for the development and bought the rest from an adjacent farm.
Mr. Piatt said Millcraft hopes to start construction by late October. So far, interest has been strong, with three deposits for luxury homes and about eight for patio and single-family homes.
"We're much ahead of where we thought we would be," he said.
Interest has come from people looking to lower their taxes by moving from Allegheny County to Washington County; those who live in the area and are looking to upgrade; and those coming into the region to start new jobs.
Mr. Piatt is hoping the patio homes will appeal to first-time home buyers and empty nesters.
Those units, he said, will be "semi-custom" in the sense that a buyer could take a three-bedroom home, for example, and convert it into two bedrooms and a study.
"They're not going to be cookie cutter per se," he said.
While Millcraft has not done a large-scale suburban residential development in more than a decade, it is no stranger to that type of work.
It did several residential projects in Southpointe, the successful business park in Canonsburg that Millcraft developed.
They included Ironwood, a luxury home development, and Fairway Landings, a townhouse project.
Mark Belko: email@example.com or 412-263-1262.