Like many neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Observatory Hill, also known as Perry North, has seen significant decline over the past few decades. In recent years, Observatory Hill Incorporated, a local community group, has started to take action to address issues of blight and vacancy in their community. PCRG member Northside Leadership Conference has been working closely with Observatory Hill, Inc. to revitalize the heart of their neighborhood, through renovations of the business district on Perrysville Avenue and renovations of houses on Bonvue Street, a residential area nearby. OHI. recently completed Phase I of the Bonvue Street Revitalization Project, and working on the Perrysville Avenue business district and Phase II of the Bonvue Street Revitalization Project. The goal of the project is to acquire “abandoned and blighted properties in an effort to stabilize the area, to attract new businesses, and to provide affordable homeownership opportunities to those with even a modest income.”
PCRG’s partnership with the National Community Stabilization Trust makes foreclosed properties available for purchase at a discount to our member organizations and their partners. When staff saw a property in Observatory Hill become available through the program, PCRG contacted NSLC who connected us with the OHI Board of Directors. The board realized that the property was in their area of focus – on Perrysville Avenue, only a few blocks from the business district, close to their own renovation projects on Bonvue STreet. Both the OHI Board and NSLC requested that PCRG work with a neighborhood resident, William Oberst, to ensure the property was redeveloped.
William Oberst is a resident of Observatory Hill who has renovated at about eight houses in the area, of which four have been located on Perrysville Avenue. The house needed a complete rehab, including a new roof, new plumbing, new electrical, and a completely rehabilitated interior, including new floors, drywall, and more. The house was also converted from a duplex into a single-family home. “Renovating the houses has been a passion of mine, and a win-win for the community,” Oberst said. With the completion of the house, Perrysville Avenue gains another beautiful property, neighbors’ property values will increase, and one more vacant house will be inhabited again.
PCRG works with financial institutions to connect our members to opportunities to purchase houses in their neighborhoods. Those homes will be renovated and then leased or sold to qualifying individuals. If you’re interested in participating in our program, please contact Justin Belton at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the PCRG office at 412-391-6732.