South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Al Lowe
Contributing Writer 

SHHS developer now renovating second school on Mount

 

November 30, 2010



— Rodrigeuz to put 69 upscale apartments in Prospect School —

Rodriguez Associates, which converted the former South Hills High School into a senior apartment building, is now involved in renovating the former Prospect School, also in Mount Washington, into a complex featuring 69 upper scale market rate apartments.

This project should be easier for them this time.

At Prospect, "they never turned the heat off. The roof is intact. There is less of an asbestos problem. And there are no pigeons living in it," developer Victor Rodrigeuz, said at a Mount Washington Community Development Corporation community forum on Nov. 18.

He has no name for the complex he plans to build but the tentative name is Lofts of Mount Washington.

As of last week there were 33 tenants occupying apartments at the former South Hills High School. An open house is planned from 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 23.

Prospect will be the fourth school the development team turned into apartments and it has managed properties since 1978.

Financing will come from a FHA loan and historical tax credits "but that means you can't make a lot of changes to the building," said Mr. Rodriguez, who brought a member of his team, Laura Nettleton, to the meeting.

"We will leave much of the building's character in place," he said. However, elevators and a new entrance will be added, the marble paneling will be retained and the courtyard will have more "green space."

"South Hills High School was in terrible shape. It really fell into disrepair. There are fewer financial hurdles for this one (Prospect). There was so much work to get it back in shape," Ms. Nettleton said. "The Prospect School is in terrific shape. We're excited about restoring its Art Deco look," Mr. Rodriguez said.

Mr. Rodriguez plans to use 105,000 square feet at Prospect for apartments and 26,000 square feet for a fitness center or YMCA. Developer Steven Beemsterboer who plans to construct the One Grandview Avenue project, with condos and hotel rooms to be located near the Monongahela Incline, also plans to build a fitness center at his site.

Mount Washington currently has no fitness center.

Mr. Rodriguez had originally planned to have a fitness center at the South Hills High School but the YMCA was not interested in that arrangement of space so he is now seeking to put a small medical facility at SHHS.

Residents said they were concerned the complex may create parking problems for them but Mr. Rodriguez said, "This is not something that we are taking lightly." There will be 24 parking spaces for the fitness center and 90 for use by tenants.

"I am sure that details will be fleshed out as time goes on," MWCDC board president J.T. Smith said at the end of the presentation.

Other speakers were Bradley Yoder and Joseph Rewis, both attorneys, neighborhood residents and owners of the Bigham Tavern, which recently replaced the former Kaib's Restaurant. They asked for patience from residents for their plans to improve the bar/restaurant and make it into a showplace and community gathering spot.

"This is like trying to turn around the Titanic in five minutes," Mr. Rewis said.

"I am a Mount Washington native who moved away and came back. I love the community and everything about it," he added.

Renovations have not started yet although there have been menu changes and an Internet based jukebox has been installed. Formerly people only purchased chicken wings at Kaib's but now there will be a full menu since an executive chef will be working with the cooks to redesign the kitchen.

The two men also own a duplex and single family home on Bigham and will locate their law office across the street from the Bigham Tavern.

According to a release distributed at the meeting, knit trail markers are being made to identify trails in Mount Washington's Emerald View Park and to aid visiting hikers and bikers.

An event, a Knit and Match Up, is being held in the main galleries of the Society for Contemporary Craft, 2100 Smallman Street in the Strip District. It is free and open to the public who are invited to knit whole markers or add to one in progress; knitting techniques will be taught on request.

Hours are: Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The current exhibition, titled "A Revolution in Handicrafts," is being held until March 26.

For more information, call Ms. Fishbein at 412 261-7003, ext. 26 or contact http://www.contemporarycraft.org.

October crime statistics were released at the MWCDC meeting. During that month there were: 40 incidents of criminal mischief, five burglaries, 25 thefts from automobiles, one DUI, two incidents involving fraud and 17 thefts from persons.

There will be no board of directors or community forum meetings in December.

 

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