A rendering of the Mellon’s Orchard South development, Trek Development Group.

An empty lot at Station and North Beatty Streets in East Liberty will soon be transformed by two new mixed-income residential developments from Trek Development Group. The first phase of the development is called Mellon’s Orchard South and will have 47 units, 37 of which will be affordable. The $13.7 million plans for this first phase were recently approved by the URA with construction starting in September of this year. The second phase, which will be called Harvard Beatty Housing, is still in the planning phase.

All of us at ELDI are excited about what this new development will bring to East Liberty, providing affordable housing to many former tenants of Penn Plaza and helping further realize our 2010 East Liberty Community Plan. We’ve been working with Trek throughout the planning process to ensure that the new developments meet the needs of the community.

Our deputy director, Skip Schwab, describes the experience:

“We’ve been advising Trek to ensure that the developments are consistent with the vision outlined by the community in the 2010 plan. Trek was very responsive to the questions and concerns raised at our community planning committee meetings concerning the live/work spaces, site lighting, and bedroom counts. They came back to the committee with revised plans, and we are happy to support their development.”

To learn more about the origins of this project, the housing breakdown for each complex, funding, and more, read our Q&A with Trek’s project manager, Janelle Kemerer, below.

Can you explain the origins of this project?

This development came about in 2015 in response to the closing of Penn Plaza and the displacement of residents. The City of Pittsburgh signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA), Pennley Park South, Inc. (PPS), and the Penn Plaza Tenant Council (PPTC) to redevelop the site known as Mellon’s Orchard South into multi-family, mixed-income residential rental units with a reasonable non-discriminatory preference for Penn Plaza tenants who were displaced at the time of its closing.  In 2016, Trek Development Group responded to the URA’s Request for Proposals and was selected to redevelop the site. In 2018, Mellon’s Orchard of the project development was awarded Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and broke ground in the fall of this year. In November of this year, Trek submitted a second application for LIHTC funding for Phase 2 of the development, known as Harvard Beatty Housing.

What’s the goal of this development? What needs is it filling in the neighborhood?

The goal of Harvard Beatty Housing is to redevelop vacant land at the northwest corner of Penn Circle and advance housing development by rebuilding residential units closer to the commercial core, as identified in the 2010 East Liberty Community Plan. The plan also calls for diverse housing choices for all residents which includes both market-rate units and units affordable to low-income households. Of the 27 affordable housing developments in the project market area, all of them have 100% occupancy rates and many have waiting lists. This development will add needed affordable housing units for low-income households.

Trek is also committed to providing housing preference to displaced Penn Plaza residents and has worked closely with a community working group to establish clear guidelines for the selection process.

“This development will add needed affordable housing units for low-income households.”

Building Makeup: 

Mellon’s Orchard unit and income mix – Phase I breakdown is as follows:

      • 47 units TOTAL: 37 affordable and 10 market-rate units
      • 12 live/work units – 2 affordable and 10 market rate
      • 37 one bedrooms and 10 two bedrooms
      • 27 of the one-bedrooms are affordable to households at or below 60% AMI
      • All 10 two bedrooms are affordable at or below 60% AMI
      • 2 one bedrooms and 2 two bedrooms at or below 20% AMI

Harvard Beatty Housing unit and income mix:

      • 42 units TOTAL: 32 affordable and 10 market-rate units
      • 6 one-bedroom live/work units (ground floor)
      • 27 one bedrooms and 9 two bedrooms
      • 23 of the one-bedroom units will be affordable to those at or below 60% AMI
      • All 9 two bedrooms are affordable at or below 60% AMI
      • 2 one bedrooms and 2 two bedrooms at or below 20% AMI
      • 8 of the 42 units, will be affordable to households at or below 30% and 20% AMI.

How has ELDI been involved with this development?

Trek Development Group has met with ELDI’s Community Planning Committee several times throughout the planning process. The Harvard Beatty Housing complex was recently presented at the September and October committee meeting. After addressing the requested design revisions, the project received a letter of support from ELDI. 

How will this project be funded?

Phase I is funded through Low Income Housing Tax Credits (purchased by S&T Bank), URA RHDIP funds, URA HOF funds, a conventional loan through PHFA, and a reinvested Developer Fee.

We have applied for LIHTC funding for Harvard Beatty Housing. If LIHTC funds are awarded, the project would also utilize loans through PHFA and the URA.

Have you received any pushback to the project?

We have received honest feedback from community groups that has improved the development. We have not received any objections to the project. 

What are the next steps? 

Mellon’s Orchard next steps: Construction monitoring until completion in November 2020, followed by a 3-month lease-up period. We are simultaneously finalizing the Tenant Preference Plan to be completed in January 2020 and submitted to HUD for their approval shortly after.

Harvard Beatty Housing next steps- Wait for 2020 LIHTC funding awards. 

How are you involving the community in the design and development of this project?

We have met with ELDI’s Community Planning Committee as well as the Penn Plaza Support and Action Coalition for design and development feedback. We have also convened a community working group to develop the Penn Plaza preference guidelines.

Is there a proposed construction timeline?

Construction for Phase I commenced in September 2019 with completion estimated in November 2020.

If LIHTC funding is awarded in 2020 for Harvard Beatty Housing, we would anticipate a one-year construction period starting by the summer of 2021.

> View the draft plans for Mellon’s Orchard South.

> View the draft plans for Harvard Beatty Housing.

Check back here for more updates on the project.