Harrisburg: ACTION-Housing was awarded the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s first Innovation in Design Award Friday, May 3, 2013 for the Uptown Lofts on Fifth Avenue, a new development planned for Uptown Pittsburgh. 

The award accompanied an allocation of Low Income Housing Tax Credits that will lead to the development of 47 new units of housing on two vacant lots across from one another on the 2000 block of Fifth Avenue. The $1.2 million allocation will lead to a $12 million total investment over ten years.

The Innovation in Design Award recognizes three elements of the lofts: the comparison of two different building approaches to high performance buildings including Passive House Standards in the north building; new workforce housing partially designed to serve young adults who have aged out of the foster care system; and the creation of a gateway development for the Uptown neighborhood.

Energy Demonstration Project: Uptown Lofts is designed to be an experiment to compare development costs and savings that can be obtained through the use of high-efficiency building enclosure systems. To achieve this, the south building will serve as the “baseline” building, with its envelope designed to meet the standards set by the current energy codes and PHFA Energy Conservation and Green Building Criteria while the North Building will be designed to meet Passive House Certification standards.  Energy consumption for each building will be measured over time to establish clear metrics on the amount of energy savings that can be achieved.

Housing for Workforce and MyPlace Participants:  In addition to 23 new units of workforce housing, one building will be home to 24 young people in single bedroom apartments who have aged out of the foster care system in Allegheny County, a significant expansion of ACTION-Housing’s MyPlace program. The MyPlace program provides housing and life skills support for young adults 18-24, who have aged out of the foster care system.  This is the first such program in Pennsylvania and one of only a few in the United States that enables young adults from this population to transition to self sufficiency. 

Gateway Project for Uptown:  Uptown is ideally situated between Oakland and Downtown, the second and third largest economic engines in the state, but has witnessed significant disinvestment over the past several decades.  This is especially true in the eastern end of the neighborhood where Uptown Lofts will be located.  When completed, these buildings will be a sign of the transformation that started with the expansion of Duquesne University and construction of the Consol Center at the western end of the neighborhood, extended into the center through the redevelopment of the Shanahan Building to the Mackey Lofts, another ACTION-Housing development, Dinwiddie Street and Fifth Avenue High School and is now has extending into the eastern most blocks.  The design of the buildings with green space and public art will celebrate the entrance into the community and offer visible proof that the Uptown will no longer be dominated by parking lots.

The $12 Million development cost of Uptown Lofts is primarily funded from an equity investment from a limited partner. 40 80 Architecture and Iams Consulting comprise the architectural and engineering team with Kaplan Thompson Architects providing Passive House Consulting. Construction will begin in November 2013.