South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Jennifer Szweda Jordan
Contributing Writer 

Hillcrest Senior Residences may begin on Browsville by November


Last updated 1/26/2015 at 6:11pm

The former Giant Eagle building in Carrick near the border of Brentwood may soon be the site for 66 high-end apartments for seniors.

Sixty-six high-end apartments for the 62-plus set will be available on the Hilltop about two years from now, if all goes as planned.

One of the country's largest nonprofit developers plans a $15 million super energy-efficient mixed-income senior living center for Brownsville Road, on the border of Carrick and Brentwood.

The Community Builders, Inc. plan for Hillcrest Senior Residences includes a November construction start, with move-in dates in spring 2017. There would be 54 one-bedroom, and 12 two-bedroom apartments.

Community Builders has tried for years to update the old Giant Eagle property, but the project's fell victim to the recessed economy.

"It was supposed to be right out of the gate a (federal) stimulus project," says James Eby, Community Builders Mid-Atlantic senior project manager. "We didn't achieve funding that year."

That year was 2011.

But developers think this is their moment to seize tax credits and funding with a new plan that would be more appealing to the Obama administration because of its high-energy efficiency construction.

Community builders is considering using what's known as passive construction, which means incorporating triple-glazed windows and insulation that is several times greater than most buildings.

While this would add to building costs at the front end, the idea is to save residents and building owners' money later.

However, in response to a question at a recent meeting about the building, Mr. Eby assured residents that windows will be of the type that open.

"I wouldn't live there if my window wouldn't open," he says.

Planned amenities include: elevators, on-site parking, fitness/exercise room and business center with computers and printer, community room with kitchen and library, private health screening room for visiting doctors and nurses, on-site maintenance and management, tele-entry system and common-area cameras, all major appliances and dishwashers with laundries on each floor.

Community Builders also aims to bring in community services, such as income tax assistance to residents.

Mr. Eby says he's interested in exploring other amenities, like an area for bike storage, since Community Builders emphasizes healthy living in senior housing.

"Just because people are senior citizens doesn't mean people might not ride a bike," he says.

Community Builders operates in Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Lancaster. Its local office is on South Highland Avenue in Pittsburgh. The organization is celebrating its 50th year in 2015. It has received financial awards from the Treasury Department, and professional honors from the likes of Professional Builder Magazine. The organization focuses on affordable and senior housing.

Another Pittsburgh housing project includes New Pennley Place in the city's East End. And it created the Steel City Apartment Building in Coatesville, Penn.

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak recently hosted a neighborhood meeting to answer residents' questions about the project.

Ms. Rudiak hopes to help kickstart the project, which has languished with a mural on its side featuring an image of the proposed center. Last summer, the building's parking lot was rented by movie crews during the filming of Southpaw. Stars like Jake Gyllenhaal stayed in fancy trailers on the site. So someday maybe the center can put up George Washington-esque plaques stating "Gyllenhaal slept here."

Those who want to be added to the interest list for applications when available should call 412-872-2260 or e-mail


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