Even without a single brick laid, excitement has been building around the soon-to-be-constructed Seymoure and Corinne Krause Commons. Located at 2607 Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill, the planned six-story complex will host 33 affordable housing units, the Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse and administrative offices for Jewish Residential Services.
On Friday, July 14, both JRS and ACTION-Housing closed on the former Poli’s property.
“The project is going really well,” explained Harold Love, executive director of JRS.
We are eager “to get started with this creation of 33 new units of housing that is affordable to low-income people, and we are thrilled that JRS is going to occupy the first two floors of the building,” echoed Linda Metropoulos, director of housing and neighborhood development at ACTION-Housing, a nonprofit agency established by former Mayor David Lawrence and philanthropist Richard King Mellon in 1957 to address regional housing issues.
Based on the arrangement between JRS and ACTION-Housing, JRS will own the first two floors of Krause Commons, with the ground level featuring the new Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse and the second floor accommodating JRS administrative offices. ACTION-Housing will own and operate the remaining space above, which includes 33 individual housing units spread over four floors, explained Metropoulos.
“All of the units are for affordable housing, and half are being set aside for people with disabilities,” noted Love.
More specifically, the units, which will vary in size, are designed to be affordable to people earning “between 20 and 60 percent of the area median income,” explained Metropoulos.
In 2016, that figure corresponded to earnings of roughly between $10,000 and $29,000 in single-family households, she added.
Although applications have not yet been made available to potential residents, ACTION-Housing “is already receiving calls from people who want to be on the waiting list, and the apartments won’t even be available until a year from now,” said Love.
“We’ll start notifying the community that applications are available in the spring of next year, and if people are interested they can call us or email us and put their names on a to-be-notified list,” said Metropoulos.
While the application process is still some time away, reaching this point has been a project years in the making, noted Love.
After nearly eight decades of operation, Poli’s restaurant finally closed in 2005. Since then, various plans have been proposed for the gateway and entrance area of Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
On Monday, a community hearing at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill looked at a potential development at 5800 Forward Ave. As proposed, the project could bring approximately 125 market rate apartments and new retail spaces to the adjacent area.
Of Krause Commons, the ACTION-Housing website touts its potential to “eradicate blight, bring income diversity to an extremely desirable neighborhood, create much needed supportive and affordable housing and catalyze thoughtful development of a highly visible gateway location.”
Councilman Corey O’Connor agreed.
“This is a great opportunity to build on affordable housing across the city,” he said. “We’re excited to get this project started, and hopefully shovels will go into the ground at some point over the summer.”
Temporary fencing already surrounds the soon-to-be-developed site, and a groundbreaking ceremony has been scheduled for Aug. 18 at 10 a.m., said Love.
As for how long the construction period should last, Metropoulos said approximately 14 months, before noting that Krause Commons should be “finished by the fall of 2018.”
Said O’Connor, “This is a great model to take across the City of Pittsburgh.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.