Two building proposals for West Mifflin Street area were unveiled at a neighborhood meeting Wednesday night -- offering perhaps a glimpse of what could be in store for the iconic student neighborhood.
One project at 431 Dayton St. would replace a small two-bedroom house with a four-story, four-apartment building. Developer Dan Bohl compared the proposal to "Lincoln Park" style walkups, saying it'll have 9 foot ceilings, hardwood floors in the living rooms, tiled bathrooms, decks in the back, and small French-style balconies in the front.
"We've taken the city's lead and tried to fit the current use of college students," Bohl told a gathering of the Mifflin West Neighborhood Association. "But if that area becomes owner occupied, it'd be very easy to convert it to condos."
One man at the meeting lamented the loss of yet another old house. "This is a nice little house, why can't we save it?" he asked Bohl.
Bohl said the house, currently vacant, is in bad shape and though anything could be repaired, it didn't make economic sense to him.
Others liked the proposal.
A second proposal got less grief for what it would replace -- the old Planned Parenthood building at 416 W. Mifflin St. -- but more over not providing enough parking spaces. Connery-Fedler Building & Design proposed replacing the old office building with a four-story building containing 33 apartment units, ranging from efficiencies to three-bedroom.
The building would sit ontop of an underground parking garage, with 14 parking spaces and several bike and scooter stalls. But residents feared that wasn't enough.
"We're going from zero density to 60 on that spot," one man said. "With that many more undergrads, we're reaching a tipping point where it's going to only be undergrads."
Ron Fedler said that while some units will certainly go to college students, others would be rented toward young professionals. And, he added, "These types of units are not conducive to the party atmosphere."
Both projects are scheduled to go to the Urban Design Commission at its May 19 meeting and then the Plan Commission in June.
The developers hope to be renting by August 2011. Jerry Connery said they needed to have the neighborhood's support before proceeding on the Planned Parenthood site. "We're not taking down three houses -- we're taking down a building nobody likes and a parking lot," Connery said. "So we need to know the neighborhood supports it because it costs thousands and thousands of dollars to keep going."
The group's Larry Warman said they'd talk about it at their meeting next week and respond.
The West Mifflin neighborhood, site of the annual Mifflin block party, is loved by many for its stock of old homes, almost all of which have been carved up into student housing. But as that housing ages, it is eyed by developers for new developments.
The city is considering options for the area in its downtown plan, one of which would encourage that old housing to be razed and replaced with higher density projects.