The Planning Commission approves a plan to renovate the Upper Lawrenceville Fire Station as well as mixed-income housing and retail

On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Planning Commission approved plans for a development that would revitalize a former firehouse and provide mixed-income housing and other facilities.

Illinois-based Albion Residential plans to revitalize a former firehouse on Butler Street and add a new 354,000-square-foot apartment complex on a vacant site.

The existing two-story firehouse — which dates back to 1890 and once housed Pittsburgh’s No. 9 Engine Company — is slated to see masonry repairs, new windows and interior renovations, according to plans submitted to the Planning Commission. It will be revitalized to include approximately 1,900 square feet of retail space.

A new apartment building will be built next to the fire station. It is scheduled to include 265 housing units, 10% of which will be affordable housing for people whose income is no more than half of the average income in the region.

The development team told commissioners that market price units on the site would range from $1,400 a month for a studio apartment to more than $3,000 a month for a two-bedroom unit.

The affordable housing component of the project has been allocated as it is located within a comprehensive Taksim area.

2% of the units will be fully accessible to persons with disabilities, and the other units will be adaptable so that they can be converted to different levels of accessibility, according to the plans submitted to the committee.

The site will also contain 3,700 square feet of retail space and a public atrium where people can gather and use the building’s Wi-Fi. There will be a new bus shelter, pedestrian safety improvements, a lighted bike path, outdoor seating, public art, a green roof, and a bike repair area.

The developer will also build and maintain a free public park for dogs behind the fire station.

The project will include 200 off-street parking spaces and 100 bicycle parking spaces.

Lawrenceville-based architect Andrew Moss expressed concerns about the proposal during a planning committee meeting Tuesday. He said the four-story building would be “totally out of context with the neighborhood” and expressed concerns about how the construction would affect nearby businesses.

“The size of this building is completely inappropriate for this site, this site,” Moss said.

But the feedback garnered through the community meetings has been generally positive, says Sarah Trbovich, the Lawrenceville executive, who helped facilitate public participation in the project.

“The development has been received very positively, mainly because it increases the density of Lawrenceville in an area that needs more residents and more businesses,” she said. She added that Albion was “completely responsive throughout the process”.

Lawrenceville resident Elizabeth Amato, a representative for Pro Housing Pittsburgh, said adding more housing helps “keep affordable prices in Lawrenceville” and provides more housing to meet the growing demand.

Amato said she is also happy to see a development that “adds without detracting,” as no one will be displaced and the vacant site will be productively reused.

The Planning Commission approved the proposal, 6-0, on Tuesday. Committee members LaShawn Burton-Falk and Sabina Dietrick did not attend the vote.

Julia Felton is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Julia via email at jfelton@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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