Big things are happening in Hazelwood along the Monongahela River. The massive, transformative Hazelwood Green development on the old LTV steelworks site tends to get most of the attention.
But up along the hillsides and deep into the neighborhood where Hazelwood residents live, there’s new activity as well. The Woods House Historic Pub is opening in October in one of the oldest houses in Pittsburgh. And in view of the pub, 66 new housing units are being planned.
The pub is housed in a structure built in 1792 that’s on the National Register of Historic Places, says project developer Krish Pandya, of Oak Moss Consulting. “It was built by the Woods family, which is also the family that that drew up the first map of Pittsburgh. So, there’s a lot of history associated with the house.”
This was not a simple restoration project. The stone house had been abandoned for more than 30 years before the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) purchased it in 2001.
Left to its own devices, it would not have survived, says Pandya. “We worked with the city, the state and the National Park Service to maintain its historic designation. We’ve had extensive discussions with the community to make sure that it is aligned with their expectations.”
“One of our biggest motivations was to bring something back in the Hazelwood community,” says Pandya who hopes to have the outdoor dining section open within the next couple of weeks. “We wanted to be one of the first places where there’s a gathering place for locals. First and foremost, we see this as a local place.”
The Woods House Historic Pub will have a bit of a Scottish accent.
“I’ve tried to bring some American comfort foods along with some Scottish pub foods,” says Pandya. Along with bangers and mash and fish and chips, the pub will serve chicken tikka masala, hamburgers, and flatbreads.
The first floor is a “comfortable family dining area” and the basement is more of a pub with televisions for viewing sports. That space opens onto the outdoor dining space, Pandya explains.
Just downhill from the Woods House, Pandya is planning Woods Village, a development of 66 housing units.
Pandya is currently working with Module — a Pittsburgh startup that makes ultra-efficient small homes from prefabricated parts that snap together like giant LEGOs — and with Indovina Associates Architects.
The idea is to bring back an entire section of Hazelwood that once existed for housing, when the steel mills were active and this was a very vibrant industrial neighborhood, says Pandya.
The Oak Moss Consulting team presented the project at the URA’s September meeting, where the board voted to extend the negotiation period for the 48 parcels sought for the development, which are located along Monongahela Street between Tullymet and Berwick Streets.
The rental units will be primarily townhouses with 20% affordable housing. A small retail component for local businesses is part of the plan.
Pandya is excited about the trajectory of the neighborhood, and its potential for positive and equitable growth.
“The community is fantastic,” says Pandya. “They’re very forward-looking.” He cites the residents who have lived there for two or three decades along with the tech companies moving into the area, bringing fresh thinking.
As proof, he points to the time they’ve spent building a sustainable neighborhood plan. “They are trying to do the right things to make sure that the local community flavor is not lost.”