Homestead touted as the next Lawrenceville

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Construction is expected to begin next month on a $10 million development that will bring new stores and apartments to Homestead.

A.M. Rodriguez Associates Inc. plans to construct a building on four vacant lots in the 100 block of East Eighth Avenue that will have space for stores on the first floor and 30 apartments upstairs, Homestead manager Ian McMeans said.

“This development is the next step in revitalizing our historic downtown area. Homestead is the next Lawrenceville," he said.

Victor Rodriguez of A.M. Rodriguez Associates said the company hopes to break ground at the beginning of April. 

Both praised Homestead as a good location for the development, which will be called One Homestead.

The borough is close to the major employment centers of Downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland and Shadyside, Mr. McMeans said. Mr. Rodriguez also noted that it is close to The Waterfront entertainment and shopping complex.

“We think it’s a great location and a great town. It’s showing signs of revival,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

“One Homestead is part of a coordinated community revitalization effort with Allegheny County and the Borough of Homestead to produce new affordable and market rate apartments targeted for working individuals,” the company website states.

Plans call for 15 one-bedroom and 15 two-bedroom apartments to be built in a building with 6,080 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, according to the website. The four-story building will have two commercial spaces that can be divided into two to four stores downstairs, with 10 apartments each on the second, third and fourth floors.

Mr. Rodriguez said the vertical brick elements of the building will “carry the rhythm” of the historic buildings next to it, yet be “somewhat modern” at the same time.

“It is the objective of our development team to be sensitive to the historic fabric of the existing buildings and provide new products for the future,” according to the company's website.

A second part of One Homestead will be the construction of 21 townhouses along Amity Street near St. Mary Magdalene Church, Mr. Rodriguez said.

The company also will renovate the old post office building at Ninth Avenue and Amity Street to contain three townhouses, about 1,000 square feet of community space and a rental office for the new apartments and townhouses.

The new townhouses along Amity Street will face Homestead’s Frick Park.

Homestead Mayor Betty Esper said the One Homestead development will “get rid of some blighted properties, help the population and put business on the avenue.”

Mr. Rodriguez said the county owned the land along Eighth Avenue and put out a request for proposals for it and then accepted his company's bid.

Mr. Rodriguez said neither Homestead nor Allegheny County provided tax-increment financing for the project, but he said the company obtained federal tax credits for One Homestead, which the company will sell to its investor, the Royal Bank of Canada.

Mr. McMeans said Homestead's zoning hearing board, planning commission and council have all approved the One Homestead plans.

Earlier steps in the revitalization of Homestead included the renovation of two buildings into apartments by architect and urban planner David Lewis; the construction of 13 single-family homes by the Mon Valley Initiative; and the opening of new businesses in the downtown area, including The Tin Front, Blue Dust and Smoke Taqueria restaurants.

Daniel Valentine, who runs The Tin Front with his wife, Ellie, said he is pleased with the plans for the One Homestead development.

“We’re very positive they will be a good addition to the community,” he said.

Developer Joe Ranii of Cityscape Construction, who renovated the building that houses Smoke Taqueria at 225 E. Eighth Ave., plans to renovate the building next to it into a loft and commercial spaces within the next couple of years.

He described the One Homestead plans as “fantastic” and said, “It’s going to give the 100 block a much needed shot [in the arm].” 

Olivia Crocker is renovating a storefront several buildings away from The Tin Front at 224 E. Eighth Ave. into the Dorothy 6 Blast Furnace Cafe, which Mr. Valentine said will offer American cuisine. The restaurant’s website states it will open this year.

Anne Cloonan, freelance writer:

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