Justin Cipriani's plans to build 18 single-family homes in the wooded area near Grandview Park were partially inspired by a favorite movie.
It became a yearly "ritual" for his family to watch the televised film "It's a Wonderful Life," in which George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, improves his friends' and neighbors' lives, builds a housing project called Bailey Park and is helped by an angel when he has self-doubts.
When he became an architect and developer, "my parents told me to build Bailey Park. This project seemed to be a natural fit, my destiny," he said.
Planning for Bailey Park, set on the edge of Grandview Park at the area's highest point, is in very preliminary stages. A meeting attended by more than 25 local residents was held on Jan. 18. Booklets distributed by Mr. Cipriani were titled "Bailey Park: Live Wonderfully." He is promising "classic neighborhood living with a modern twist."
He said he was LEED certified and had been the designer for Clever Homes, located in California.
Mr. Cipriani recently demolished a blighted home at 150 South 16th Street and is now constructing a row home with the same design that the Bailey Park homes will have. Katie Yakich, a planning and zoning specialist he employs, said there may be an "open house tour" at the site for Bailey Avenue residents and others.
"We are not on a hard schedule. The team is still coming aboard," Mr. Cipriani said of Bailey Park homes. "We will work at our own pace."
He said Mount Washington was a difficult place to build due to soil, watersheds and traffic.
One resident informed him a nearby alley was an easement to provide access to a merry-go-round that once existed in the park. "Really?" Mr. Cipriani replied.
Another told him that it was difficult to get cell phone reception there.
There was a resident who commented he would have preferred architecture "that fit the community better."
The booklet showed the homes' design. Homes would have three bedroom suites, large closets and a one-car garage. Green design features include lighting, insulation, HVAC and recycled content in counters, towers, carpets, windows and flooring.
He said he hopes to have the first three homes built by next summer. All the parcels are located in Allentown.
"It is a slow and thoughtful process. We're not building 18 in a year. We're not rushing it."
He still needs to acquire funding and create a final design.
There will be five phases of construction (Phase One – Lots 1 – 3; Phase Two – Lots 4 – 7; Phase Three – Lots 12 – 14 and communal garden; Phase Four – Lots 8 – 11 and Phase Five (Lots 15 – 18).
Pricing, according to the booklet, will be: $405,000 for Lots 1 – 6, $385,000 for Lots 7 – 11 and $365,000 for Lots 12 to 18.
"This is definitely a work in progress," Mr. Cipriani said.
"I thought it was a spirited good talk," Jon Lusin, president of the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation board of directors, said. "We heard the residents' concerns. The prospect of such a project is exciting."