Zoning Changes, Federal Funds Enable Adaptive Reuse Program in Pittsburgh

Funding and zoning changes are likely necessary but insufficient on their own, to borrow a phrase from Nolan Gray. Pittsburgh hopes to deploy both to spur adaptive reuse in the city.

1 minute read

September 26, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

A photo of the former Heinz factory in Pennsylvania, renovated as condominiums and apartments.

Perry Quan / Wikimedia Commons

Pittsburgh is using $2.1 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund a portion of a pilot program to make it easier to convert vacant or obsolete commercial buildings into housing. The reinvigorated focus on adaptive reuse in the Steel City is also made possible by a slate of zoning changes under consideration by the city in September. Adaptive reuse is a hot topic in 2022, as cities look to shift downtown land uses as significant numbers of downtown workers continue to work from home in the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to an article by Julia Felton, the zoning changes would remove the requirement for planning commission review for new residential development in the Golden Triangle area of the city. “The legislation also looks to change a requirement that all exterior renovations with a price tag of $50,000 or more earn Planning Commission approval. That piece of the zoning code dates back to at least 1983,” reports Felton. The new price threshold would be $250,000.

Felton also reported in July on the city’s planned using of American Rescue Plan Act  funding for its adaptive reuse program, which was part of the OnePGH program launched by former mayor Bill Peduto.

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