Uptown Aerial

Uptown is on a residential upswing: in the past three years, three apartment buildings have come onto the neighborhood scene.

“Five years ago, we weren’t talking about new developments and market rates in Uptown,” said Mayor Peduto at the groundbreaking of the Flats on Fifth in late spring. “Today, it’s the hot market.”

“It may be one of the most misunderstood neighborhoods in the city,” said Peduto. “Empowerment, involvement, culture, connection are already there. They’ve done it themselves.” The community is a mix of artists, writers, start-ups and old-time residents and students, he adds.

Here’s the lowdown on 182 apartments that are bringing more residents to the 1.5-mile stretch of Uptown.

Courtesy of Walnut Capital.

Flats on Fifth, the neighborhood’s first new construction apartment building in more than 50 years, will open in spring 2016 at 1655 Fifth Ave.

“You know what’s beautiful about it?” asked Peduto. “We’re not tearing down a single brick to do it.”

For the construction, “we’re using under-utilized space that has for a decade been, really, a parking lot for Downtown and Oakland,” he said.

The seven-story building will feature 74 apartments that will be marketed to students and young professionals with rents of $1,200-$1,500. Apartments will have in-unit washers and dryers, granite counters, floor-to-ceiling French doors and balconies.

Flats on Fifth is a few blocks from both Consol Energy Center and downtown and sits along one of the most used bus routes in the city. There’s also seven stories of on-site parking, an area for bike storage and a bike maintenance station.

“Uptown has a lot of attractions. It has one of the lower Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) of any neighborhood in the city of Pittsburgh. Its proximity to downtown and Oakland, its accessibility, makes it walkable and transit rich,” said Grant Ervin in an earlier interview about Uptown’s Eco-Innovation District.

Just a few blocks away, the Fifth Avenue School Lofts opened to tenants in 2012. Its former life was as Fifth Avenue High School, which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The 100,000-square-foot Gothic-style school was converted into 65 sunny lofts with high ceilings and large windows, some that take in the view of its across the river neighbor, the South Side. Great effort was taken to preserve or historically restore the building’s public spaces, such as the first floor’s 17-foot wide corridors, large archways, tile floors, wainscoting and transom windows.

Mackey Lofts image courtesy ACTION-Housing.

In 2013, ACTION-Housing re-opened the doors of the Mackey Building with 43 workforce apartments, 18 that are equipped with special accessibility features that serve those with limited mobility or those who are blind or deaf. Called Mackey Lofts, this building was once home to the Famous Biscuit Company but fell into disrepair before ACTION stepped in.

“So much development will be happening here,” predicted Peduto.

Read more about Uptown’s upswing here.

Lauri Gravina

Woods wanderer who was an an editor at New England’s regional magazine, the research director of a Colorado newspaper and a farm hand in Vermont before returning to Pittsburgh to write about and explore her hometown.