Urban living in Bethel Park? It’s on the way.

An Atlanta developer with a history of involvement in transit-oriented development anticipates the first luxury apartments will be ready by August in a $50 million, 300-unit complex under construction next to the South Hills Village T-station in Bethel Park, and the community will be completed by January.

Marketing representatives are setting up a temporary trailer at the site across from South Hills Village mall in response to growing public interest in the property, says Danelle Lane, marketing director for Charlotte, N.C.-based SunCap Property Group, co-developer with The Dawson Company in Atlanta. The trailer will be open for active leasing by June 1.

The seven-acre site of The Ashby at South Hills Village Station was a former park-and-ride lot next to Port Authority of Allegheny County’s South Hills Village light rail station and commuter parking garage. Rycon Construction is building four apartment buildings with one- to three-bedroom units, a community building and courtyard with a pool. To minimize parking required on site, tenants could use 250 spaces in the commuter garage.

“When we saw the Port Authority’s request for proposals on the site, we jumped at it,” says Bailey Pope, senior vice president of The Dawson Company.

Transit is important but “it is not the sole cause for a successful development,” Pope says. “Bethel Park and the other communities that comprise the South Hills area have a huge pent-up demand for quality contemporary rental housing since nothing new had been built in the area for many years. There is a national trend towards multi-family [housing] that is not limited to downtown urban areas. That said, this site’s immediate access to the light rail was central to our interest in this location because the transit provides tremendous tangible benefits.”

The Ashby is located next to a Port Authority light rail T station and garage, and across from South Hills Village mall.

The Port Authority began seeking developers in 2012 with a goal of increasing transit ridership and economic development in the area, and approved a lease with the joint venture team in June 2015. The 120-year lease stipulates up to three years of construction, after which Dawson/SunCap will pay the Port Authority $180,000 annually for the first four years, then the rent will escalate each year thereafter, up to $590,000 in the final four years. The developers have the option to renew for 20-year leases thereafter.

“This project not only provides additional revenue to Port Authority via the lease agreement, but we hope to attract the residents of this community to utilize the high-quality public transit that will be within walking distance of their doorsteps,” said Ellen McLean, Port Authority CEO. “Investment around transit can influence where transit riders live, work, go to school, and shop.”

The large-scale development of apartments with amenities like those found in newer Pittsburgh developments is unusual for the area. Modest-sized homes make up the neighborhoods immediately surrounding The Ashby, but SunCap’s online marketing notes the development is “positioned at the hub of some of the most affluent communities in Pittsburgh.”

Site plan for The Ashby. Courtesy SunCap Property Group.

In addition to its heated saltwater pool with a sundeck and cabana area, The Ashby will have a fitness center, business center and cyber cafe, club room, demonstration kitchen, hospitality coffee bar, outdoor fireplace and grills, bike storage, dog park and pet grooming station. Rents will range from $1,050 to $2,500 per month, Lane says. Floor plans are online at ashbysouthhills.com.

“The amenities and location of The Ashby will appeal to a range of residents, from young professionals to empty-nesters and retirees,” Lane says. “The excellent Bethel Park School District is a draw for young couples looking for a quality school district, but the location, maintenance-free living and resort amenities on site are generating interest from those looking to downsize or to live near where their own children have settled to raise their families.”

Lincoln Property Company is handing the leasing and management for The Ashby. The company also manages The Haven at Cranberry Woods and Lincoln Pointe Apartments in Bethel Park, built in 1993.

“We are anxious to show off our two-story amenity center” at The Ashby, says Melissa Gregg, Lincoln Property Group’s business manager in Pittsburgh. Some of the apartments will have individual garages available for an additional fee, she says.

This is The Dawson Company’s first venture in the Pittsburgh area. The company has built apartment communities in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Baton Rouge, and Pensacola. SunCap developed the GE Center for Additive Technology Advancement in Findlay Township in 2016. Desmone Architects is overseeing design for The Ashby.

Sandra Tolliver

Sandra Tolliver is a freelance writer, editor and public relations professional in Upper St. Clair.