With the help of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s six-year-old Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, Pittsburgh’s East Liberty and Larimer neighborhoods are undergoing a transformation.

A Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant award has helped to leverage additional funds to provide one-for-one replacement of obsolete public and assisted housing as well as support the community’s goals of green space, updated infrastructure, blight removal, and homeownership opportunities.

“On the housing side, it tackled a distressed assisted housing site,” says Vince Bennett, president of McCormack Baron Salazar. “There’s a tremendous need in Pittsburgh for affordable housing production and preservation.”

The St. Louis–based developer partnered with Allies and Ross Management & Development Corp., the development arm of the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, on the first phase of housing.

The 85-unit Cornerstone Village, Phase I, includes one- to four-bedroom units in a variety of building types. It also serves a mix of incomes: 28 are project-based voucher units for families earning up to 50% of the area median income (AMI), 28 are low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) units serving families earning up to 50% and 60% of the AMI, and the remainder are market rate.

“To be able to retain affordable housing and create it in a mixed-income environment is a win-win for the community, the city, and the housing authority,” says Bennett.

The first phase also touts universal design and sustainability, earning Enterprise Green Community and Energy Star Version 3 certifications. Adjacent to transportation and retail, additional amenities include a fitness center, a computer room, and a clubhouse. Nonprofit Urban Strategies provides services for the low-income residents who require assistance.

The $28.9 million first phase used $5 million of the Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant to leverage over $21 million in other funding, including $12.6 million in LIHTC equity from Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing and $8.5 million in local funds.