South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Apartments coming to the Hollow, NID committee works on changes


December 20, 2011

A plan to renovate a vacant four-story structure into 18 apartment units was the sole presentation at the Dec. 13 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

A scheduled presentation on the Local Review Committee did not take place.

The proposed project involves renovating the vacant building at 3010 Jane St. that formerly housed a silk screening business into 1- and 2-bedroom apartments for upscale tenants.

The building was purchased by Dan Spanovich and son, Dan Spanovich, Jr. one year ago.

South Side Local Development Company Manage of Business Development Aaron Sukenik said architect Stephen Sobina presented the plans to the Design Review Committee of the SSLDC on Nov. 16. He then took into account the committee's comments in his subsequent presentation before the city Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The 18 residential units require a special exception from the city because the property is in an urban industrial district.

Mr. Sobina said he met with area residents about parking. There will be internal and external parking, and bike racks.

"We were able to put their fears aside," he said.

An attendee from neighboring Harcum Way said while neighbors were worried initially about the development, the project team put those concerns to rest. He also likes that the building will no longer be an eyesore.

Councilman Bruce Kraus, who attended the zoning hearing, said this project is an example of the system working.

"Unanimous consensus was reached," he said.

The next zoning hearing on the matter will be on Jan. 26.

Mr. Spanovich, Jr., said the project would begin on Jan. 27 if it is given the go-ahead. The work will take about a year.

To a question about how much rent will be, he said monthly rentals will run about $1,400 to $2,000.

"It doesn't make sense to put all this into the building if we're not getting these numbers," he said.

In her report about the South Side Improvement District (SSID) Steering Committee, Susie Puskar said the committee is currently working on changes based on input at public meetings and other feedback from residents, and will be making another presentation on a date to be determined.

The committee is also working on improvement district bylaws to ensure it will be run by South Siders. Two new residents joined the committee.

In a NID, property owners agree to a self-imposed annual fee for services which supplement those provided by the city, such as a security team, park maintenance, improved parking signage, and more.

Ms. Puskar reminded attendees under the Improvement District law, the city cannot reduce the level of services to a community if the community forms an Improvement District.

For the current plan proposal, visit the Steering Committee website at

Those with questions about the improvement district, or who would like to schedule a group meeting, may contact Ms. Puskar at 412-481-0651, extension 11.

An attendee said the response rate of 29 percent on the surveys mailed to property owners in August soliciting responses to questions, including whether the respondent supported the formation of a NID, was not high.

"You are proposing to raise taxes," he said. The tax comes on top of the recent rise in county taxes and the library tax approved at the ballot in November, he said.

The attendee is especially opposed to the state law that states if a property owner does not express opposition in writing to a NID, it counts as a "yes" vote.

Forum Chair Hugh Brannan said there are still several steps left in the process.

"The process has been very transparent, and going on for over a year," he said.

In LTV Steering Committee news, Mr. Brannan said the LTV Steering Committee will meet with the Design Review Committee of the SSLDC on Dec. 29 on a potential merger. The fate of the Design Review Committee is in jeopardy because the SSLDC is planning to dissolve at the end of June 2012.

In other news, Judy Dyda, who is working on the Neighborhood Plan revision, said there will be many recommendations in the revision in light of the dissolution of the South Side LDC.

The organization's Promotions Committee, and the Parks and Greenspace Committee, also need homes, maybe as subcommittees.

Mr. Brannan said the Neighborhood Plan committee plans to present the revised plan in early 2012, which includes restructuring of committees.

In his brief remarks, Mr. Kraus said Mary Frances Cooper is the new director of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Construction is underway at the South Side branch; a soft opening might take place in early August.

"Everything is moving exactly as planned," he said.

In other news, Ms. Dyda said the South 18th Street steps have been power washed and stained and are gorgeous. LED light bars will be installed on the steps.

Funding is from a grant from Duquesne Light, for which the project is remaining under budget.

The next forum meeting will be on Jan. 10.


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