Allegheny County

Plans unveiled to restore Irish Centre in Squirrel Hill, turn it into apartment building

PITTSBURGH — Wednesday, Toronto-based developer Craft General unveiled preliminary plans to restore the site of Pittsburgh’s Irish Centre in Squirrel Hill and turn it into an eight-story apartment or condo building.

“Squirrel Hill is in need of more housing and this will provide more opportunities,” said Raymond Baum, who represented Craft General at a Squirrel Hill neighborhood meeting Wednesday.

The Forward Avenue site — not far from the Parkway — butts up against the Nine Mile Run stream as well as Frick Park.

The developer’s plans call for 162 mostly one and two-bedroom units, as well as 182 parking spaces.

It has not yet been decided whether the units will be apartments for rent or condos for purchase.

“I’m really excited to see that we’re trying to build more housing in Squirrel Hill,” said resident David Vatz.

Squirrel Hill residents spoke both in favor and in opposition of the plans.

Among their main concerns were added traffic in the area and impacts to the park and Nine Mile Run.

“This would absolutely change the character of the scenic ribbon of park that we have that extends from Regent Square to the river. That’s my concern,” said resident Tony Indovina.

To bring their plans to fruition, the developer will need special permission from the city’s zoning board because of both the type of project in a park area and the size of the building.

A hearing is set for June 1.

The developer said the sale of the Irish Centre’s property is contingent on that zoning board approval.

The cost of the sale has not been announced.

Meanwhile, the Irish Centre said it is not currently using its building and is looking for a new, more modern space to move into in the future.

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