Pittsburgh’s Downtown Office Buildings Could Soon Become Housing

The city is proposing a $2.1 million boost to state and county efforts aimed at converting office buildings to affordable workforce housing.

2 minute read

July 11, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Mihai_Andritoiu / Shutterstock

“The City of Pittsburgh announced its intention to present legislation to Pittsburgh City Council that would reappropriate $2.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to a new project: converting historic office buildings into residential buildings.” According to Ollie Gratzinger, writing in Pittsburgh Magazine, “This will add to the $3 million that the commonwealth has already granted to the Urban Redevelopment Authority for this purpose.”

The city’s efforts piggyback on county and state initiatives aimed at increasing the supply of affordable housing in central parts of the city. “The proposed plan comes amid a wave of change for Downtown, which had garnered an unsafe reputation prior to the pandemic, and then suffered great economic losses during it. In a recent report, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership said that Downtown is still only 56% recovered from those losses as of May 2022.”

Pittsburgh’s Downtown Mobility Plan, completed by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership in May 2021,“offers a grand vision of an inclusive Downtown that’s safe, accessible and easy to navigate. Part of the plan includes the widening of sidewalks on Smithfield Street, which organizers say is “primed for a facelift,” as well as enhanced green infrastructure and more.”

Gratzinger points out that “Increasing residential housing Downtown, where rent prices tend to be high and unaffordable for many, has been on Mayor Ed Gainey’s agenda since he was elected; in May, he expanded the city’s inclusionary zoning district, requiring any new development with 20 units or more to designate at least 10% for low-income housing.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2022 in Pittsburgh Magazine

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