Sherree Goldstein, owner of Square Café, pictured (left) outside of the café’s current location in Regent Square.

This story was orginially published on page 6 of BGC’s The Bulletin.

When he launched Module in 2016, CEO Brian Gaudio set out to create a housing startup that took a different approach to homebuilding.

Module uses modular construction – prefabricated offsite – that affords homebuyers the flexibility to easily customize their homes to any lifestyle, as well as the ability to add more living space as their family grows or their needs change.

“Pittsburgh was changing when Module first began, and it’s changing even more rapidly today,” Gaudio explained. “Module and its founders wanted to be a positive part of that change by producing human-focused, environmentally conscious homes that residents can actually afford.”

Intrigued by the developer’s simple ethos, Sherree Goldstein, owner of Pittsburgh’s Square Café, asked Gaudio & Co. to design a house that she and her mother could call “home” in East Liberty. After looking at many homes in the area, Goldstein was referred to Module by a realtor friend. She explained that the developer’s focus on sustainability is what sealed the deal.

“Sustainability is one of the key pieces in my world, so the way that they build offsite – from the materials they use to the amount of waste they produce – is all really beneficial to me,” Goldstein noted. “They build the home as an envelope, so it’s completely weather-sealed and airtight; in terms of energy conservation, it hits the nail on the head.”

Back home to East Liberty

When the café owner and her mother decided to live near each other a few years ago, they came to East Liberty for a reason.

“My mother grew up in East Liberty and she always wanted to get back here,” she said. Goldstein and her mother moved into separate units at Eastside Bond Apartments in East Liberty, where they presently reside.

Soon after she began designing a new, single-family dwelling for herself, the project quickly pivoted to a custom duplex with her mother in mind. Module’s design team is now working with Goldstein to create a two-story, two-bedroom house for her – along with a single-story, one-bedroom unit for her mom.

“[Goldstein] has been a blast to work with,” Hallie Dumont, Module’s Chief Design Officer, commented. “She holds the bar pretty high, but we’re up to the challenge. We’ve gone through a couple of design iterations as the project has evolved.”

In securing the land on N. Saint Clair Street, Dumont and her colleagues worked with East Liberty Development, Inc., to utilize a wider lot where the homes could sit side-by-side. The units are separated and private, but also share exterior spaces in the front and back of each building.

“Sherree’s place folds around,” Dumont explained, “giving her additional outdoor space above her mom’s unit.”

Module’s growing East End footprint

A mock-up of Sherre and her mother’s future home.

According to Gaudio, his company will eventually expand to other cities but, for now, the focus remains on Pittsburgh’s East End neighborhoods.

In Garfield, Module recently cut the ribbon on a mixed-income housing development in the 5400 block of Black St. [see page 10 for more]; the company also created a custom, one-bedroom, single-story residence in Friendship.

Goldstein looks forward to engaging her family roots – not only by planning for a new home in East Liberty, but also by re-locating her business to the neighborhood. As she recently announced to fans of her Regent Square “brunch fixture” at 1137 S. Braddock Ave., Square Café is moving to East Liberty.

Café employees are transforming a sizable space at S. Highland & Centre Aves. [previously occupied by BRGR and Spoon] into a new home for Square Café, with plans to open in September; as of press time, Goldstein has not announced a closing date for her Regent Square location.

Envisioning her “best life,” with a workplace close to home, she is excited to live right around the corner from her café. Now that the City has granted zoning approval, Module is proceeding with the offsite construction of each unit.

“It’s all very hands on,” Goldstein said of the design process, “and I feel involved and supported in my decisions.”

The flexibility of Module’s building style comes as an added bonus, she noted. “We can build two more stories onto my mom’s unit if things ever change, and we need that,” Goldstein explained. “I don’t know that we will, but I never say ‘never.’”

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