South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

SomeraRoad proposes new 251-unit building at SouthSide Works


Last updated 3/17/2021 at 8:45pm

A brief presentation on a proposed riverfront, high-end, seven-story, 251-unit residential apartment building kicked off the March 9 Zoom meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

The project location is on S. Water St. at Coal Place. The nearly two-acre site is currently vacant land.

The apartments would include a mix of studio, 1-2 bedroom apartments for rent.

If approved, the target construction start is the fourth quarter of 2021, with tenants 24 months later, said Andrew Donchez, a principal at SomeraRoad, the new owner of SouthSide Works. 

Mr. Donchez said the company is working on improvements to all of the public amenities at SouthSide Works.

Recently, SomeraRoad's proposal to convert SouthSide Works Cinema into 75,000-square-feet office space called the SouthSide Works Box Office with 300 to 400 employees was approved by the Planning Commission.

On March 21, SomeraRoad's renovation of the Town Square at SouthSide Works, 445 S. 27th St. with enhanced connections to the riverfront and trails, a dog park, new stage, and more, will go before the Planning Commission.

The proposed apartment building project includes improvements to the public spaces in front of the building as well as the adjacent promenade and connections to Riverfront Park and the Heritage Trail. 

The building will include tenant amenities like a rooftop terrace with pool, fitness center, community lounge, and co-working space. 

An attendee said while it is allowed by zoning, the project is not very "respectful" of the low-lying community.

The proposal will next be presented in a Development Activities Meeting (DAM) to the South Side Community Council (SSCC) on March 25.

A DAM provides an opportunity for citizens, property owners, business owners, and stakeholders to learn about the proposals that affect them and to resolve concerns at an early stage of the application process.

Anyone interested in attending the Zoom DAM should go to this link the day before the meeting to access the Zoom link:

Next, in the South Side Parking Enhancement District (PED) update, city nighttime economy coordinator Allison Harnden reported income passed $2,000 this past weekend.

The PED is the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

The funds must be invested back in the neighborhood for public safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure improvements. 

The PED revenue for February, 2021, totaled $7,239.67.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus said all of the closures due to COVID-19 resulted in a $140,000 hit in PED funds in 2020.

"Revenue is beginning to return," he said.

The trust fund balance is $351,259, but there is $41,000 in outstanding invoices. There is also $15,000 planned for lighting at Esser's Plaza as a safety issue.

In alcohol license changes, the Dough Bar is about to open at 1831 East Carson St. It is the former Steel Cactus site.

Ms. Harnden also reported Block by Block, the Clean Team which maintains the E. Carson St. corridor and is paid by PED funds, is returning to a two-person crew the week of April 1.

The crew has had one less worker from Jan. 13 through March 31, resulting in a savings of about $13,500.

During February, 5,125 pounds of trash was removed. Five graffiti/stickers were also removed, and hospitality assistance was lent three times.

Mr. Kraus reported there is a mystery as to why bagged trash is continually appearing in pedestrian areas on Carson St.

To a question about the 18th St. signals project, Mr. Kraus said the requests for proposal (RFP) are out.

To a comment that the streets are a mess and street sweeping is needed, he said he would look into it.

But city code says it is the responsibility of property owners to clear curbs.

He also reported he would like to put banners up again.

Ms. Harnden concluded the report with news that letters were sent to the local universities about student conduct and house parties. The letters have been sent for the past three years.

Next, in the update of DAMs, Barbara Rudiak, president of the SSCC, said three prospective projects were presented at its Feb. 25 DAM.

The first presentation was Phase 3 of the Riverside Mews development at S. 18th St. near the Riverfront Park entrance, and which will be going before the Planning Commission.

The second presentation was about signage to the front of the building at 2009 E. Carson St., and installation of a garage door and door to the rear of 2009 East Carson St. on Wrights Way for a new "Beyond/Hello, the Medical Marijuana Dispensary."

The proposal will go before the Historic Review Commission (HRC).

The third presentation will also be going before the HRC. It is for the interior and exterior renovation of the first floor of 1321 E. Carson St. to create a residential entry for six new apartment units on the second and third floors at 1321-1327 East Carson St.

The next DAM at 6 p.m. on March 25 will feature plans for the riverfront residential apartment building. The second presentation is expected to be the Esser's Plaza renovation project.

In the South Side Neighborhood Plan update, Tom Smith reported the neighborhood plan committee met. He said the discussion was about the next steps toward a new neighborhood plan through City Planning.

City Planning has crafted a standardized process that takes 18 to 24 months, and includes an involved public process.

The committee consensus was the new plan should be a plan for all of the South Side, meaning, the Flats and Slopes.

Mr. Smith said there is a need to do more fact finding.

At the next neighborhood plan meeting, someone from Oakland will be invited explain the procedure followed in that neighborhood in pursuing a neighborhood plan.

"It's going to be a long process," Mr. Smith said.

In organization reports, Mark Bucklaw, president of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, said the organization appreciates all of the concerns expressed about the Feb. 8 fire that destroyed the Chamber offices and more.

The historic four-story building in the 1100 block of East Carson St. destroyed by a massive fire housed the Chamber offices (including Welcome Center), barber shop, and six apartments. Everyone escaped safely.

The fire is under investigation as to how it started.

The Chamber is moving into temporary office space across the street. Its new mailing address is: P.O. Box 42345, Pittsburgh, PA 15203-2345.

The Chamber's executive director, Candice Gonzalez, is working remotely.

She is looking forward to the return of Chamber events.

The next Planning Forum meeting will be on April 13.


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