Plans were submitted to Pittsburgh City Council Tuesday for more than $100 million in housing redevelopment in Larimer, boosted by a hoped-for $30 million federal grant, $16.5 million in city funds and private support.
Legislation from Councilman Ricky Burgess would authorize the city to apply for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant with hopes of building some 350 units of mixed-income housing in the struggling neighborhood, and support jobs, parks and businesses similar to those in neighboring East Liberty.
The plans are meant "to continue the excitement and energy going on in East Liberty. Many of us believe Larimer is the next great community," said Mr. Burgess, who represents the area and chairs the city Housing Authority, which also is backing the effort.
The redevelopment largely would center around Larimer Avenue and East Liberty Boulevard but include neighboring side streets.
Larimer has had no new homes built since the 1960s and has more vacant lots than occupied homes. Community leaders have worked for some five years to come together on redevelopment plans -- which were in trouble of being rejected as recently as last year -- but have lately come together.
Time is a factor, as the application for HUD's Choice Neighborhoods Initiative funding must be submitted by Sept. 10. The Obama administration initiative replaces HUD's public-private Hope VI program (which helped rebuild Oak Hill and Bedford Hill in the Hill District), requiring applicants to submit wide-ranging plans to transform whole neighborhoods, not just build public housing.
Choice Neighborhoods "is absolutely brilliant, visionary public policy," said Pat Clark of Highland Park's Jackson-Clark Partners, one of the consultants working with community members on the project.
The Larimer plans foresee 155 units of public housing (replacing the Hamilton Larimer and East Liberty Gardens developments); 105 market rate units; and 100 for those getting housing tax credits. It would preserve green areas north of Larimer Avenue to help stabilize the Negley Run watershed, which runs into Washington Boulevard.
The more planning and local funding applicants deliver, the more funding the federal program delivers. The bill Mr. Burgess submitted would lock the city into $16.5 million in funding over five years: $2 million per year in federal block grants; $500,000 per year in HOME affordable housing grants; and $800,000 yearly in capital budget funding. Other public funding would include $16.5 million from the Housing Authority; $2.5 million from the URA; $7 million from the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority; and $15 million from the Department of Transportation.
A community-wide meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Kingsley Association, 6435 Frankstown Ave. An overview of the plans is available at larimerplan.wordpress.com.
Timothy McNulty: email@example.com or 412-263-1581. First Published July 16, 2013 1:30 PM