A largely vacant stretch of Second Avenue in Hazelwood would be filled with music, youth programming, and commercial and residential space as part of a proposed makeover designed to complement the $1 billion former LTV coke works redevelopment.
Under the plan, the vacant Spahr Building, which was a former G. C. Murphy's store, would be transformed into programming and performance space for Hazelwood's faith-based Center of Life organization.
ACTION-Housing Inc. and Washington, D.C.-based Telesis Corp. are partnering on the proposed redevelopment, which also would include an additional 1.5 acres of vacant land or structures besides the Spahr Building, all in the 4800 block of Second Avenue.
City Urban Redevelopment Authority board members are expected to vote Thursday on whether to begin up to 18 months of exclusive negotiations with ACTION-Housing and Telesis for the sale of the properties needed for the projects.
Linda Metropulos, director of housing and neighborhood development for ACTION-Housing, sees the proposed redevelopment as a bridge between the neighborhood and the 178-acre Almono development along the Monongahela River.
"We really see it as central to that connection between the old Hazelwood and the new Almono," she said.
Under the proposed deal with the URA, the exclusive negotiating period for the Spahr Building would run for 90 days with a URA option to extend it another 30.
The second phase of the development would involve another 25 parcels -- 24 on Second Avenue and one on Flower -- over 1.5 acres that would be used for commercial and residential construction. Plans call for street-level retail space and upper floor commercial or residential development. Ms. Metropulos envisions a block that is akin to Lawrenceville's Butler Street or the South Side's East Carson Street. The exclusive negotiating period for the second phase would run up to 18 months.
The total cost of the proposed redevelopment, including the reuse of the Spahr Building, is estimated at a "rough" $30 million.
"What we're really talking about there is truly redeveloping an entire business district on what is now vacant land only blocks from the Almono site," said Yarone Zober, URA board chairman.
ACTION-Housing and Telesis were one of two entities to respond to a request for proposals put out by the URA for the redevelopment of the properties. The other came from developer Craig Cozza, who wanted to put a Family Dollar store on part of the site and convert the Spahr Building into retail and market rate housing, said Kyra Straussman, the URA's director of real estate.
She said the URA felt that the ACTION-Housing/Telesis proposal offered the potential for a "great deal more investment" and a denser overall development.
City Councilman Corey O'Connor, who represents Hazelwood, said he likes the proposal that was selected by the URA. While either one would have worked, "this one, I think, really captured the neighborhood feel," he said.
Also on Thursday, the board is expected to vote on a proposal to sell 1.6 acres of land at the Pittsburgh Technology Center in South Oakland to Hotel d2 Services LLC for $1.57 million for construction of a 135-room extended stay hotel. Development costs are estimated at $16.5 million. The URA has been trying to build a hotel at the site since 2007.
Mark Belko: email@example.com or 412-263-1262. First Published October 8, 2013 8:00 PM