South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Al Lowe
Contributing Writer 

Developer proposes 69 units for former Prospect School building


The developer seeking to change Mount Washington's former Prospect School into a market rate apartment complex said he needs to seek city zoning variances for the project.

An update on his plans and other matters was given at the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation community forum meeting on Sept. 15. Developer Victor Rodriguez and architect Laura Nettleton spoke at the session. Their company, Rodriguez & Associates, converted the former South Hills High School into a senior apartment complex.

They want a four-story complex at Prospect with 69 apartments but city zoning ordinances only allow three story buildings in the area. They propose to have a fitness center in the complex but would need another two variances because it is zoned residential, not commercial.

Residents are concerned about the impact of additional parking since rental properties there could have owners of as many as four cars living in each unit. Mr. Rodriguez is hiring a traffic consultant to study the situation and he wants to undertake new solutions to the problem.

The rental cost of the apartments will be $900 to $2,000 a month. Mr. Rodriguez said he thought generally the apartments would be rented to one person or possibly two.

Rodriguez & Associates is working on getting financing and approvals for their project. They have obtained an option agreement with the school board and have first right of refusal regarding development.

Another speaker, Jake Pawlak, is a consultant favoring the "Our Library Our Future Voter Initiative." He said library supporters were "encouraged and optimistic" that the referendum would be approved in the November election and would annually allocate a quarter of a mill received in taxes toward the library system.

The money would be used only for maintenance and operation. The tax is equivalent to $25 per year on $100,000 of assessed value.

"We had to get 2,800 signatures to put it on the ballot. We got 11,000," Mr. Pawlak said.

"Please vote yes," said resident Anabell Kinney who signed a pledge to give an affirmative answer to the ballot question.

Another lady in attendance said the proposed tax was another unfair burden for the property owner and urged a no vote. "I have never been in a Carnegie Library in my life," she said.

Seven candidates for four board member positions were given opportunities to talk about their backgrounds, hopes and plans. The membership in October will be able to reelect or add new or former board members in an election at that month's community forum meeting.

"We have a great group of candidates. We will be doing well if we elect any one of them" said Peter Karlovich.

"I would like to make the community a better, vibrant, safer place to live," said current board member Eric Horwith who manages a local hospice company and also investigates complaints about alleged discrimination for the Human Relations Commission.

"I am passionate about housing, safety and infrastructure," said current board member Darla D'Anna, who, like the other candidates, mentioned the committees on which she served. "I would like to be back again."

"There has been a lot of positive change," said current board member Peter Karlovich regarding his reasons for running again. "I think that we are moving in the right direction." He owns several businesses including a software company.

Stephanie Kibler is new to the community and said she brings "a fresh mind and an unbiased opinion." She wants to involve some young people into the MWCDC because they will be running it 10, 20 or 30 years from now.

"I will stay involved no matter what," said active volunteer Breen Masciotra, a director of a nonprofit. "I am really proud of the things that we have accomplished. I think that we all work together really well."

"I am really excited to be able to add the experience and value of what I learned at a nonprofit," former board member Erin Molchany, executive director of the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project, said. She appreciates positive changes made by the MWCDC.

Ed Preston, a current board member, is a real estate attorney and was exposed to the MWCDC while in law school. He was involved in title work necessary for incorporating land into Emerald View Park.

City Controller Michael Lamb also spoke, explaining Pittsburgh's annual financial report. He said he thought it impor


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