By Andrew Henderson, Jessica Federkeil, Mark Dovi and Nick Vercilla
High rise luxury apartment buildings nearly block out the early morning sunlight drenching East Liberty. The sun was bright but not warm, and Sheila Witt, 52, shoved her hands deeper inside of the pockets of her cropped black coat.
“I own my home, so I’m not worried about myself,” she said. “But, sure, I’ve lost some friends.”
East Liberty is one of the most recent beneficiaries of Pittsburgh’s ongoing renewal efforts.
But some East Liberty residents say the Eastside Bond building is just one example of the expensive changes in the neighborhood that are forcing some people to leave.
Victoria Jackman, the property manager of the Eastside Bond (http://www.eastsidebond.com/ ) building, said the project was part of a massive redevelopment plan for the area. The development opened in October 2015 bringing with it new housing, parking and a number of new locations for shopping.
“There was a huge strategic plan,” Jackman said. “We really did change the fabric of this neighborhood.”
The luxury apartment complex is home to 360 apartments ranging in prices from $1420-$4085 a month.
Rising rent is just one of the wide spread housing issues Pittsburgh is currently facing.
When the apartments at the Cork Factory Lofts (http://www.thecorkfactory.com/), in the Strip District, began filling up the developers knew there was only one solution, build more apartments.
That was the idea behind the creation of Lot 24 in 2012, community manager Lisa Carney said.
“It’s amazing for Pittsburgh,” Carney said. “People who moved away from Pittsburgh are coming back.”
Pittsburgh has had a long tradition of urban renewal. Some of the city’s most distinctive spots are reclaimed from earlier commercial and residential uses.
Point State Park was covered in warehouses and shipping depots before being redeveloped to open as a public park in 1974.
In 1956, nearly 8,000 mostly African American individuals were displaced from The Hill District to make room for the new Civic Arena – which was itself destroyed in 2011 to make way for the current PPG Paints Arena.
Carney in particular said that locals of the Strip District have enjoyed the new residential developments because of new attention is has brought to the area’s shops.
“It brings more business to them,” Carney said.
As far as the luxury housing development in East Liberty a feeling of displacement has set in for some Pittsburgh residents.
“I’m not saying I’m leaving,” Witt said. “But it doesn’t feel the same here as it used to”.