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Pittsburgh Celebrates New Beginning for Hill District Public Housing

Kevin Cameron (left), 47, of Ohio Township, of Cameron Professional Management, talks to Howard Slaughter, Jr. of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency at the groundbreaking of the redevelopment of the Depression Era Addison Terrace housing projection in the Hill District on Monday, April 22, 2013. Cameron’s firm is in charge of community relations for the 400-unit project, which is estimated at $160 million.

A $160 million reconstruction of dilapidated public housing in the Hill District will be central to the neighborhood’s rebirth, officials said on Monday.

“We believe it will have a boomerang effect down to Centre Avenue and will have an echoing effect all the way to Larimer and to Homewood,” said City Councilman Ricky Burgess, who chairs the Pittsburgh Housing Authority’s board.

Burgess and other city and neighborhood leaders marked the start of renewal for the Depression-era Addison Terrace complex during a ceremony at Elmore Square, where work begins next month on 400 townhouses for families of various income levels.

The federally funded project will be built in three phases on property the authority owns at Elmore Square and Bentley Drive. It will replace Pittsburgh’s first public housing project, which included 715 apartments built in the late 1930s and dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

By the 1960s, what once was a center for Pittsburgh black culture fell victim to the effects of crime and urban blight.

“I can’t wait to move into my new house,” said Dolores Bailey, 67, who has lived in Addison for nearly 30 years and is treasurer of the community Citizen’s Council. “This is going to be a brand-new neighborhood.”

Developer Keith B. Key, owner of Columbus, Ohio-based KBK Enterprises and a former Hill resident, said he is working with the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority to provide additional housing on vacant lots between Addison and Centre Avenue.

Other construction in the neighborhood includes development of the former Civic Arena site, a Shop ‘n Save grocery store and 26 apartments in the former Miller Elementary School.

“This is a chance to have an upgrade in housing for people who need it,” Key said.

A YMCA opened on Centre Avenue last year.

Demolition of Addison Terrace is scheduled to be completed in May, and construction of the $57 million first phase, with 186 units, would begin immediately, Key said.

Former Addison residents who moved elsewhere in the city could apply to move back in, said housing authority Executive Director Caster D. Binion.

Key said he hopes to include more than 50 percent minority- and female-owned companies as contractors on the project, and to provide job retraining opportunities to residents enrolled in the Garfield Jubilee construction training program.

“I’ll get work experience and help rebuild the community,” said Amber Nails, 23, of Garfield. “It’s a great thing to be part of something like this.”

Staff Reporter 

Published: Monday, April 22, 2013, 1:33 p.m.