Rendering by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Courtesy of Action Housing.

Following their successful Krause Commons development at the corner of Murray and Forward avenues in Squirrel Hill, ACTION-Housing is preparing a new mixed-use property just up the street.

The proposed Flats on Forward will include ground-level retail and three floors of affordable housing, with two floors of office space on top. The development will take up space currently occupied by a vacant lot and the long-shuttered Squirrel Hill theater, which ACTION-Housing formally purchased in May.

All units will be priced to be affordable to residents making 60 percent or less than the area’s median income.

Founded in 1957 by Pittsburgh Mayor David L. Lawrence and philanthropist Richard King Mellon, ACTION-Housing develops real estate projects such as affordable housing, while also supporting civic-minded private projects and outreach and educational services for families.

Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh, Linda Metropulos, ACTION-Housing’s vice president of real estate development, says the nonprofit organization was inspired to expand their footprint following the popularity of the 33 affordable residences at Krause Commons, which opened in December.

“There was a huge demand for those units, just incredible,” says Metropulos. “And so, we just thought, let’s just keeping going with creating opportunities for lower-income individuals in Squirrel Hill.”

As Metropulos explains, rising market rates have made affordable housing a pressing local need across our city, but the problem is especially acute in neighborhoods like Squirrel Hill.

“As the whole marketplace has changed in Pittsburgh, predominantly in the East End, those more affordable options are fewer and fewer,” says Metropulos.

The local architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson collaborated on the initial designs and developer John Katz of the Brandywine Agency is assisting with planning for the residences.

Only one hurdle remains: Before the project can begin in earnest, Metropulos says ACTION-Housing will have to wait for approval for affordable income tax credits from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

“If we don’t get the credits, we’ll just reapply the following the year,” says Metropulos. “If everything goes according to plan, we will start construction in May or June of 2020.”

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.