The Lawrenceville Corporation (LC), with generous support from Bridgeway Capital and Allegheny Valley Bank, is nearing completion on a 30-year effort to redevelop Doughboy Square, the western gateway to the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The final chapter promises to address one of the most pressing neighborhood concerns: affordability.
The housing pressure in Lawrenceville is unprecedented. In the last decade, a total of 10 affordable housing units (9 rental units, and 1 affordable home ownership opportunity) have been created in a neighborhood with roughly 4,800 occupied housing units. Meanwhile, the private market has exploded. More than 900 market-rate units are planned, and over 225 are currently under construction. The private market will not be providing affordable housing options in the neighborhood for the foreseeable future.
As part of our Responsible Growth Initiative–a comprehensive affordable housing strategy throughout the neighborhood that also includes our Community Land Trust program–the Lawrenceville Corporation aims to balance the market rate activity in Lawrenceville by developing mixed-income, mixed-use rental housing on several key parcels that it has assembled in Doughboy Square.
In late 2015, Bridgeway Capital awarded the LC funding to complete necessary predevelopment work in Doughboy Square. That grant has enabled us to retain FortyEighty Architecture and Studio for Spatial Practice to complete a rigorous community engagement process and schematic designs for the project. FortyEighty Architecture and Studio for Spatial Practice bring both capacity and a strong history of innovative architectural and planning work in urban areas. This process will likely enable the LC and partners to pursue tax credit funding support in 2017 and 2018 for the project. The architectural team was selected by a steering committee comprised of Lawrenceville Corporation, Lawrenceville United, and The Roberto Clemente Museum, in conjunction with Action Housing.
The planning work will focus on several LC-controlled parcels, enabled in part by financing from Allegheny Valley Bank:
- 3400 Penn: The Lawrenceville Corporation acquired this property located at the corner of Penn and 34th Street in 2002.
- 3330, 3336, 3340 & 3350 Penn Avenue: The Lawrenceville Corporation entered into exclusive negotiations with the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh in 2016.
- 3404 Penn: The Lawrenceville Corporation purchased this parcel in 2016.
The importance of this effort cannot be overstated–especially to longtime neighbors. “I have seen the arc of Lawrenceville. My father and I have invested our lives in Doughboy Square over the past twenty-five years,” said Chip Desmone, Principal at Desmone Architects, which is located in the former Pennsylvania National Bank Building in the heart of the Square. “The promise of completing the Square by replacing blight and vacancy with vibrancy and affordability is incredibly exciting for the neighborhood. We look forward to the process.”
Doughboy Square has been a focus of the LC from its inception in 1985. These properties, which represent nearly 20,000 square feet, will be transformed into 21st Century housing for some of our most vulnerable neighbors. This is important work, and the LC is honored to be leading this process.
While the final plans are slated for completion by Fall 2016, the project team will be meeting with key partners and community members over the next several months. The first public engagement opportunity will be on Monday, July 11th, from 6-8pm at The Clemente Museum, located at 3339 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15201. We hope you can join in the conversation.