South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Housing planned for St. Matthew's, South Side Voices project discussed


January 16, 2018

A brief meeting of the South Side Planning Forum began with an update on the Saint Matthew housing project by city Councilman Bruce Kraus.

Under the proposal, 6-7 for-sale housing units will be constructed inside the church structure. Parking will be under the building.

The only disruption to the building will be a cut on Mary St. for internal parking.

Only one parking space will be lost on Mary St. as it will provide vehicular entry into the building.

Mr. Kraus said the project was favorably received by the Development Review Committee (DRC).

The closing is scheduled for Jan. 19.

“It’s a home run,” he said in light of the owner, architect, preserving the integrity of the building, and more.

Heading the project will be Tom Sabon. Luke Desmond, who has done other notable work in the city, will be the architect.

St. Matthew Parish was founded in 1903, and closed in 1992. Mr. Kraus said the church building has been for sale for about 12 years, and has great history in South Side.

Proposals floated over that span always involved tearing down the structure and building townhouses, which was never well received, he said.

The plan is to keep the building and replace the windows. The new windows will be custom made, but not stained glass.

Mr. Kraus said the only request before the Zoning Hearing Board will be for change of use.

The next speaker was Juliette Rihl, a CORO Fellow in Public Affairs who is working with the South Side Community Council (SSCC) in partnership with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-South Side on an oral history project entitled “South Side Voices: Stories on Carson.”

Barbara Rudiak, of the SSCC, has stated the year-long project ties in with celebrating the 25th anniversary of the East Carson St. historic designation.

Ms. Rihl said the project’s mission is to celebrate the neighborhood, preserve East Carson St.’s rich history, and promote the neighborhood as a vibrant and multifaceted community. She has been researching information and talking with longtime residents with stories to tell. 

The focus in 2018 will be on the buildings.

She announced that an informational meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 17 at CLP-South Side to go over the project’s outline, goals, and ways in which organizations may get involved.

Everyone is invited.

Next, in the South Side Neighborhood Plan update, Ms. Rudiak said the committee is finalizing a letter to businesses on the importance of keeping sidewalks clean, and more.

The committee is also working with the Dept. of Public Works in residential and business areas on how to make those tasks easier for everyone.

It is also working with individual organizations on their respective responsibilities in the plan, and how they are progressing.

Committee chair Tracy Myers previously explained committee members decided a year ago to have the plan reviewed on a consistent basis instead of the prior method of reviewing it every two years.

There is also some discussion about changing the layout of the plan to keep all of the information more compact.

On another topic, Ms. Rudiak commented that rentals in the residential areas may not be as attractive as they once were due to new apartment buildings in opposite corners of the South Side offering access to washers/dryers, parking, and other amenities.

She asked attendees to keep it in the forefront to be mindful of the Carson St. corridor and its offshoots.

Conversation next turned to new businesses/development coming to the South Side.

A new music venue, The Stage at Karma, will be opening at the site of the former Devils & Dolls bar and nightclub, 1713 E. Carson St. Some attendees expressed comments that they were glad the latter closed.

A new, 319-unit apartment complex is under construction at Station Square. A hotel is also under consideration by the same developer.

Forum Chair Hugh Brannan said he would like to see a presentation before the Planning Forum by the principals involved “on what the vision is.”

The Dept. of City Planning’s neighborhood planner, Felipe Palomo, reported PennDOT is reviewing the traffic plan at the site, and that he would try to arrange a meeting.

“We would like to understand a little bit more about it,” Mr. Brannan said of the projects.

In announcements, the annual South Side Soup Contest, co-sponsored by the Brashear Association and the South Side Chamber of Commerce, is scheduled for Feb. 17.

The soup contest hours are noon to 3 p.m. General admission tickets are $30.

Tickets go on sale on Feb. 2 at noon.

Brashear food pantry donations are accepted. For more information, visit:

In the 2017 Welcome Center report, Candice Gonzalez, of the Chamber of Commerce, reported the Welcome Center had 363 volunteers for 2,684 volunteer hours worked in the South Side. The total number of worldwide visitors was 3,967.

Next, Mr. Palomo reported there will be four community events conducted by the city, Studio Bryan Hanes and Friends of South Side Park for the South Side Park master plan process.

They will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 18, Feb. 15, March 15, and April 19 at the Arlington Recreation Center, 2201 Salisbury St. A team of consultants will be present. There will be food.

Everyone is encouraged to stop by at any time during the three-hour public meetings and contribute their ideas, concerns and desires for an improved South Side Park.

More details and dates are available on the city’s website:

The meeting concluded with Mr. Brannan reporting 650 South Pittsburgh families received food vouchers and toys through the Brashear Association from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

“The number of families is trending in the wrong direction,” he said of the increase from last year to this year.

The next forum meeting will be on February 13.


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