During a tour of Larimer, Federal Housing Administration Commissioner Carol Galante passed dozens of vacant lots and deteriorating houses. But along the way she also passed the neighborhood's Environmental and Energy Outreach Center, a branch of Chatham University, and the popular Bakery Square — signs that one of Pittsburgh's long forgotten neighborhoods is being reborn.
Galante was in Pittsburgh today to announce another step in Larimer's growth, a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods implementation grant. The grant will be used to build a mix of affordable and market-rate housing, green infrastructure, and community support services.
"While housing is at the core, some of the funds can be used for what I call the glue," Galante said. "So not only will it help with some of the hard development, but also the community infrastructure."
Pittsburgh competed with 43 communities for the grant and was one of four cities awarded. The funds will be combined with local investment to create $90 million in total development.
"This grant is going to help create some of our vision for the neighborhood," said Malik Bankston, executive director of the Kingsley Association. "We're leveraging resources to jump-start some of the more extensive planning and development we need to get people to stay in our community."
Committed funders include City of Pittsburgh, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Dollar Bank, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, The New App for Making It In America, Pittsburgh Public Schools, and The Pittsburgh Promise. The funds will be used to build more than 300 housing units in Larimer and East Liberty.
"It will link the East Liberty development to Larimer in a seamless way," said Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess. "It will be transformed and it will also lead to new development in Lincoln/Lemington and Homewood."
And this summer, two housing developments are already set to start construction. In July Keith B Key enterprises will start on 40 scattered site units, and construction of 85 mixed-income rental units will begin later.
"We've been dis-invested for over 55 years," said Evelyn Brooks, a member of the Larimer Consensus board. "It's been long over due so I'm very happy about the outcome."
"I think it's a beautiful thing," said 43-year Larimer resident Betty Lane. "It's going to spur more interest and investment in the neighborhood."