Though sod still needs to be laid on some side yards, and poles still await chain-link fencing, 186 units of new housing now sit above the Hill District where one of the nation’s first public housing projects, Addison Terrace, once stood. And the new neighborhood, Skyline Terrace, looks impressive.
Developer Keith B. Key, whose firm is creating the new community for the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, had a personal stake in making it so. As he prepared to thank all the partners and residents who helped bring the project to fruition during the May 14 ribbon-cutting ceremony, he held up one of the old Addison building number signs, 2017 Bentley Drive—it was where his father lived.
“This is a special day for all of us. It’s special for me because I was born over on Chauncey Street,” said Key. “I’ll never forget where I’m from.”
Key said he was especially proud of the work the residents did in pushing him, and the city and everyone involved to be better, and in terms of employing minority businesses and hiring residents to work on the project, they did just that, he said.
“We had 53 percent MWBE participation, hired 67 Section 3 employees and awarded over $27 million in contracts to minority and women-owned firms,” he said. “And it’s beautiful. Now I might be a little biased, but I’ve been all around the country and it’s the best I’ve ever seen.”
In addition to Key, speakers such as HACP Executive Director Caster Binion, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Hill, city Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle all praised the cooperation between the city, county, state and federal agencies, the developers and the residents who made the project possible.
When completed, the $160-million Skyline Terrace development will bring more than 400 units of mixed-income housing to the Hill District. The event also allowed the Housing Authority and Key to show off the community’s state-of-the-art community center, named for the former tenant council president Ella Mae Hillman who several speakers agreed, made sure promises to the residents about amenities, access, services and the right to return were kept.
Current tenant council representative, Sandra Almond, said they kept on Key, and he kept his word.
“It looks just as we agreed it would. What happened is what we said would happen” she said. “Three-quarters of the residents who were here have come back. So we’re going to have a nice mix of old tenants and new tenants.”
Binion called all of the Phase 1 units “affordable housing,” meaning income-based subsidies are available for those who qualify. The market rates for the 2- and 3-bedroom units, each with 1.5 baths, are 1,350 and 1,600 per month respectively.
The second phase, which involved erecting 90 new units on Bentley Drive, will start in the fall. Phase III, which will include building several scattered-site units to help connect Skyline Terrace to the Centre Avenue corridor is still in the planning stages.