A community meeting was held Monday night in the Squirrel Hill Jewish Community Center’s Levinson Hall. Developer George Mongell showed preliminary drawings for his proposed four-story, 19-unit condominium development on Forbes Avenue, which is scheduled for a public hearing with the Zoning Board Thursday, Feb. 5.
The property is located across the street from the St. Edmunds parking lot. Even with multiunit residential zoning, some variances are being sought at the public hearing.
The footprint of the building will determine the number of underground parking spaces; decisions on the variances will determine the size of the
footprint and height of the project. Once that information is known, Mongell will be able to clarify some of the questions that were raised in the meeting.
How many bedrooms? Will there be a utility room? What will the exterior look like? All of these questions were asked during Monday’s meeting.
Martha Raak and her husband moved to Squirrel Hill from Greensburg 8 years ago. The Raaks live in a townhouse with stairs, and that is becoming a problem.
“We love our townhouse, but have to be on one level, so I thought I’d come and see what this is all about,” she said.
Dee Davis, of Beacon Street, also feels that a move to a condo is in her future.
“It’s convenient. It’s where I would like to live. I’d be interested in a three-bedroom. I’d love a window in the kitchen so that I can look out when I’m cooking.”
Others voiced their concerns.
Bob Alexander lives at 5648 Marlboro Road, directly behind the project.
“My concern is that this will increase congestion in the area. It’s very crowded as it is. A great big building right behind our house is going to obscure our view of the outside.
“It’s going to reduce our property values,” he continued. “I’m also concerned about some engineering features. Our house is on a hill. This will be just behind the hill. There’s a wall that’s holding up the hillside and I can’t imagine that lots of pounding and drilling and heavy equipment will be particularly helpful for this wall.”
Residents who do not live directly adjacent to the project are also concerned. Marlboro Road is a narrow street with just 17 parking spaces for 26 homes. People other than residents of Marlboro Road take one-third of the spaces. With 19 new condominiums, they worry they may have no place to park on their own street.
Ann Greathouse, realtor at Howard Hanna Squirrel Hill, is the site coordinator for the Forbes condo project. She already has a waiting list.
“There is a market niche for young people who want green condos in this location. It is close to public transportation, restaurants, the library. They can walk to the JCC. And empty nesters, people who don’t want to shovel snow and cut lawns are very interested.”
(Dev Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)