South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

 
 

By Sarah Beth Martin
Contributing Writer 

MWCDC reveals renovated house, addresses area car break-in concerns

 

MWCDC Photo

Before and after photos of the house on Eureka Street the MWCDC recently finished renovating.

"We can't help you unless we know you need help," Officer Christine Luffey told Mt. Washington residents last Thursday evening. "If you or someone you know has been the victim of a crime, or if you see something suspicious, call 911 and tell us."

The Zone 3 Public Safety Officer attended the Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) forum meeting last week to address resident concerns over a recent rash of vandalism in the area, among other things.

But even though she was invited to talk on the topic, Officer Luffey did not know much about it. After reviewing Mt. Washington's crime statistics over prior weeks, she said, she found nothing alarming.

"So, what's going on here," she asked the audience, "and why haven't we heard about it?"

A resident spoke up to explain: Some three or four weeks ago, approximately 12 cars on Wyoming Street were vandalized overnight. Each car had been keyed along every panel and Belgian blocks had been thrown through two different windshields.

When Officer Luffey asked the resident if she knew how many car owners called this in to the police, she shook her head in disappointment at the answer. "No one did," the resident told her.

"How can we make the people who did this to you pay for their crime if we don't know they committed it in the first place?" she responded. "And, how can we prevent whoever did it from doing it again if we don't know what patterns and clues to look for?"

Answering her own rhetorical questions, Officer Luffey went on to stress the importance of calling 911 in any and all situations where a person has been victimized, suffered damage and/or felt threatened or in danger.

"You might think it's pointless to call in some situations," she said. "But, when it comes to public safety, nothing is pointless.

"Even if you're calling to report something that happened overnight, and the bad guys are already gone-your calls tell us what to look for when we're out on the streets... and they help determine the volume of officers (allocated) for your area."

Moving on, Officer Luffey shifted her focus from reporting crime to preventing it. She said the MWCDC had asked her to speak to the group about theft from automobiles, which has become both a local and national epidemic.

Regarding this topic, the officer stated: "Theft from automobiles is a crime of opportunity, and it can be prevented... If you are going to keep something valuable-like electronics, purses or wallets, or money-in your car, make sure it is out of sight or hidden, and make sure to lock your car and set the alarm, if you have one.

"Or, better yet, I recommend you take the items out of your car when you're not in it, so that you remove the opportunity entirely."

Next up on the forum meeting agenda was an update on the MWCDC's real estate projects, as presented by James Eash, MWCDC director of economic development.

In his capacity with the organization, Mr. Eash works toward enhancing property value in Mt. Washington according to a 10-year housing strategy he developed. As he described, "It breaks Mt. Washington down into smaller, micro-neighborhoods, and then narrows in on those with the greatest need for improvement."

Over the past year, Mr. Eash's strategy narrowed in on the 400-block of Eureka Street, and on 419 Eureka, in particular.

"This particular micro-neighborhood showed strong bones and potential, but hadn't been invested-in for decades," he said.

"The house (419) itself is representative of other properties in the area," he furthered. "It was built in the 1920s and hadn't been updated much since... It had small bedrooms with no closets and rooms with only one electrical socket... The attic had exposed knob and tube wiring and no insulation."

And, "had" was the operative word in those sentences. After showing images of these property pitfalls at 419, Mr. Eash showed images of how they had been renovated. The MWCDC purchased the property for approximately $24,000, and then invested $80,000 in improvements intended to enhance the original character of the house, update its design and bring in the modern amenities people have come to expect in housing these days.

He made clear, "We didn't do what we did at the house to make money. We did it to show other private investors that it can be done, and to set a standard of high quality for them to follow.

"This house shows that it is possible to produce a quality product in an area that might be seen as challenged... and it serves as a prototype and pilot we can use for future improvements in the area."

Mr. Eash said he anticipates 419 Eureka to list on the open market at around $139,000, which would afford the MWCDC a slight margin of profit-that profit, he reminded, would then be reinvested in the next property, or properties, tackled by the project.

The MWCDC will hold an open house to introduce the property as a completed project. The date of that event has yet to be determined, but will be posted on the MWCDC website at http://mwcdc.org, where you can also view a calendar of its other upcoming events.

 

Reader Comments

(0)
 
 
 
Rendered 11/18/2014 14:32