McCormack Baron Salazar has been working in the Historic Hill District of Pittsburgh since the early 1990s. The company initially developed Crawford Square, a mixed-income Low Income Housing Tax Credit-financed development, with accompanying for-sale units, before moving on to a major HOPE VI redevelopment of the Bedford Homes public housing and the replacement of the Lou Mason senior public housing development. Through these efforts, McCormack Baron Salazar has brought together significant public and private resources to rejuvenate an important Pittsburgh community. In total, McCormack Baron Salazar has developed 681 units of housing in this neighborhood.
The major challenge in building this vibrant community was overcoming decades of devastation and deep distrust in the residents of the predominantly African- American Hill District. Once a thriving neighborhood known for its jazz clubs and ethnic diversity, the area deteriorated in the 1950s, endured enormous damage from rioting in the late 1960s, and was further devastated by initial urban renewal efforts that displaced approximately 5,000 lower Hill District residents to make way for construction of the city’s Civic Arena.
In the early 1990s, McCormack Baron Salazar was selected by Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in Pittsburgh to be the master developer of20 acres of land adjacent to the city’s Civic Arena. Working in partnership with the URA, the Hill District Community Development Corporation (Hill CDC) and the city of Pittsburgh, MBS developed the award winning Crawford Square. McCormack Baron enlisted local architect Urban Design Associates (UDA) to create a master plan that would rely heavily on strong public input in every phase of the design and planning. Built in three phases between 1991 and 1999, the development includes 348 mixed income rental units, and 78 for-sale units. Development costs totaled $56.4 million. In addition to low-income housing tax credit equity, several other state and local sources provided loans, grants, and bond proceeds, including a first-ever consortium of four local banks led by PNC Bank and four local foundations that awarded direct grants.
In 1995, McCormack Baron Salazar was selected by the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP) to redevelop Bedford Dwellings Addition public housing community in the Hill District into a new mixed income community. In 1996 HUD granted HACP a HOPE VI award for the project. The three phases of the new Bedford Hill community include 351 mixed-income apartments and 29 for-sale homes for a total development cost of $67.6 million.
McCormack Baron Salazar also developed a 108 apartment, mixed-use seniors building, called “The Legacy,” for the former residents of the Lou Mason Junior High Rise Apartments. Sponsored by the Housing Authority of City of Pittsburgh , the building provides homes for a combination of public housing residents and low-income residents. The total development costs for building were $16,173,000.
The once blighted and distressed Hill District now houses a stable community of more than a thousand mixed-income renters, first time homeowners, working families, young professionals, and elderly residents. Townhouses and homes in the eara, which in the early to mid 1990s initially sold for between $90,000 and $140,000, are now selling for between $125,000 and $180,000. Many newer homes built between the late 1990s and 2004 sold for between $180,000 and $309,000 - all in a metropolitan market where the median home sales price is in the low $100s.