An unassuming four-story brick building on Miltenberger Street in Uptown, once a corner store with apartments above, will undergo a top-to-bottom renovation that could turn it into a community destination.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) has owned 23 Miltenberger St. since 2017 and is poised to sell the property and two rear lots to Epic Development LLC, an Uptown design and development firm that focuses on hyper-local and community-based projects.
The URA board will consider selling the property and lots for $60,000 at its meeting on Thursday, July 14. Headed by Michael McAllister, Epic is developing 51 market-rate apartments with ground-level retail at 1709 Fifth Ave. in Uptown, and developed 16 other apartments in the neighborhood that were completed in 2021.
At 23 Miltenberger St., McAllister proposes a $480,000 rehab that “will return the property to its roots and serve as a community destination in Uptown for years to come,” URA Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Wilhelm says in a report to the board.
Epic would restore the corner storefront to create a ground-level café and renovate two one-bedroom apartments on the upper floors. On the adjoining Forbes Avenue lots, McAllister envisions a three-season outdoor destination with a landscaped patio, string lights, tables with umbrellas and portable toilets. Three food vendors could set up there, with access to communal retail space and electrical hookups.
“The food cart spaces would be rented out by the year to serve as an opportunity for entrepreneurs to incubate their businesses in a low-barrier environment, rather than sign traditional/higher risk brick-and-mortar leases. A space would be earmarked each year to an Uptown-based or minority-owned business,” Wilhelm says.
The building, now vacant, sits along the incoming Bus Rapid Transit line. To restore the early 1900s architecture, Epic would remove an addition that expanded the fourth floor and refurbish the original dormers.
The URA sought someone to redevelop the properties in May 2021 and received two responses. Epic’s was the only full proposal submitted by last September’s deadline, and it has the support of Uptown Partners, Councilman Daniel Lavelle and the Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprise program officer, according to Wilhelm.
The sale won’t happen until the board can see McAllister’s final drawings and proof of financing.
Neighborhood Initiatives Fund
Separately, the URA board will authorize this year’s grants from its Neighborhood Initiatives Fund, which gives money to community-driven projects in commercial corridors. Since 2019, nearly $2 million has gone to 37 projects.
The seven projects recommended for 2022 are:
- Community Empowerment Association: $100,000 for a community plaza in Homewood
- Larimer Consensus Group: $63,040 for a grocery store expansion
- Hazelwood Initiative: $70,000 for a public space at Second Avenue and Tecumseh Street
- Progress Fund: $100,000 for the Hazelwood Brewery project
- Afro American Music Institute: $60,000 for Phase 2 expansion planning
- Pittsburgh Glass Center: $50,000 for expansion in Garfield
- Brighton Heights Citizens Federation: $84,305 for the St. John’s Green site park and trail