Pittsburgh City Council may vote today on parting with nearly 20 properties for a Larimer housing development, but state tax credits are the real key to the Urban Redevelopment Authority-backed project.
The URA has tapped KBK Enterprises, an Ohio company that built Garfield Commons through a partnership with the city housing authority, as developer of the $11.3 million project.
The 37 houses and townhouses in struggling Larimer would be rented to lower-income residents, Tom Cummings, URA housing director, said.
Part of the Larimer Vision Plan, the development would be the "first step in re-establishing Larimer as a good place to be," he said. The project reflects Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's goal to push growth out into the neighborhoods and would attempt to capture some of the development buzz -- including surging interest in residential properties -- in nearby East Liberty.
"This is a top priority project," Mr. Cummings said.
City officials just hope the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency will see it that way. About $1 million in agency credits are key to the project's feasibility, and if the credits aren't provided, the URA may have to put the work on hold.
"I know the mayor will be having those discussions with PHFA at the appropriate time," Mr. Cummings said. The agency's decision is expected around April, he said.
Council is scheduled to take a tentative vote Wednesday on transferring nearly 20 lots on Carver and Meadow streets and Larimer Avenue to the URA.
The URA would add those sites to others it already owns and, Mr. Cummings said, convey the properties to KBK for about $100,000. The URA also may be a project lender.
If the tax credits come through, the houses may be ready for occupancy in 2013. The URA has signaled its interest in building new houses in Homewood, too, as part of a campaign to lift troubled eastern neighborhoods.
Councilman Ricky Burgess has called for the construction of as many as 2,000 homes in Homewood and Larimer. Mr. Cummings said the 37 rental properties in Larimer could be followed with later waves of houses that would be offered for sale.