South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Condo towers on Works will reach up to 200 feet, need city zoning change

 


Two planned condo towers along the riverfront at the South Side Works could reach heights up to 200 feet if the city approves a change to the zoning code.
Details of the proposal were presented at the May 9 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum by Mark Dellana, vice president of development for the Soffer Organization.
While the proposed zoning change is for the SouthSide Works, the text will be very specific that the taller buildings have to be residential or hotel — and only that portion of the site where the condos will be situated is designed for residential or hotel.
Mr. Dellana said the towers must reach heights of 200 ft. to accommodate Soffer's desired 75 condo capacity per tower.
This is the second rezoning request to increase height by the applicants: the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, which owns the property, and the Soffer Organization, the developers.
In 2003 the city granted a rezoning request by the applicants that paves the way for erection of a 165-ft. hotel. That hotel, which has yet to be built, will be located next to the condos.
Soffer and the URA are seeking to again amend text in the SP-5 District, which regulates development of the SouthSide Works, to allow for the 200 ft. condos.
Guidelines for the SouthSide Works call for keeping maximum heights about 100 ft. to maintain a standard maximum height in the South Side. The Goodwill building, for instance, is 111-ft. tall.
Mr. Dellana said the Design Committee of the South Side Local Development Co. informed him they are more concerned about the massing of the condo buildings than about their height.
He also said the Riverlife Task Force approved the text change as long as the quality of the riverfront remains high.
Soffer must present design plans to the SSLDC at every step of the project, he said.
The plan is to appear before the city Planning Commission on May 30, with a hearing 45 days later. The proposal would then go before city council in the fall. The public may comment at any stage.
If the zoning change is granted, 12 to 18 months of construction for the hotel and condos will follow, with occupancy in the condos occurring in late 2008.
Forum chair Hugh Brannan said Mr. Dellana will talk to any other groups upon request. Interested residents may also stop in his office above the Hot Metal Grille to see a model of the entire site.
Mr. Brannan asked forum members to check with their respective groups about the matter as the LTV Steering Committee will be asking the forum for feedback.
The meeting began with a brief overview of local crime by Zone 3 Commander RaShall Brackney.
She said the emails she received from residents over the past week complained about the crowds, noise, and public urination outside bars in the late evenings.
She said the park-n-walks, in which officers park their cars and walk in the business areas for 30 minutes, “should increase visibility.” But a major problem in the South Side is the number of liquor licenses, which she called “out of control.”
An audience member said the South Side Community Council views nuisance bars and irresponsible patrons as problems to be addressed through organizing residents.
Commander Brackney suggested the residents join with District 3 city Councilman Jeff Koch and state Rep. Harry Readshaw to present a unified front.
Commander Brackney said it is easier to stop a new bar from opening than it is to close a nuisance bar, as the latter can take years. “Licenses are big business,” she said.
The local Nuisance Bar Task Force does not have a lot of bite, she said, as everything liquor related is controlled by the state Liquor Control Board.
To an audience member's question of holding a meeting with tavern owners, she said the following week she would be getting together with owners for a friendly, non-antagonistic meeting.
The meeting, hosted by the South Side Chamber of Commerce, is not open to the public as that could lead to it becoming confrontational.
The idea is to get together with bar owners to discuss and brainstorm problems in the neighborhood caused by some of their establishments.
In other business, Mr. Brannan said the potential for traffic congestion from a casino is a problem. When he asked forum members if the forum should ask the city to take a lead role in doing a traffic study, members agreed.
Rick Belloli, executive director of the SSLDC, said the gaming applicants cannot legally pay for a traffic study at this stage of the application process.
Mr. Brannan said officials of the South Side Sports and Recreation Fund met with six groups requesting funding, and that award amounts will be announced at the next forum meeting. All six groups will receive some funding.
He also said it is probably the end of the fund as little money remains.
Mr. Brannan announced that forum member Barbara Rudiak was promoted to executive director of school management, elementary schools, by the board of the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
She will be replaced as principal of Phillips Elementary School, a position she held about 14 years, by Rodney Necciai, the current principal of Knoxville Elementary School.
The forum will probably appoint someone to fill their education seat in the fall, Mr. Brannan said.
In other news, the 15th Annual Historic South Side Home Tour will take place on Sat., June 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets for the self-guided walking tour are $12 in advance, and $15 on the day of the tour. Group tickets of 10 or more are $10.
Tour highlights include eight residences and 91.3 fm WYEP, and the 15th St. Glassworks furnished by Bradley Michaels Furniture.
For more information, call 412-481-0651, or visit www.southsidepgh.com.
The next forum meeting will be on June 13 starting at 5:15 p.m. with the police report.

 

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