Recap from Housing for All: The State of Housing in Lawrenceville

Many thanks to the Office of Councilwoman Deb Gross, Lawrenceville Corporation and the Department of City Planning for partnering on this effort.  The hosting partners provided updates on the state of housing in Lawrenceville, displacement, and what’s being done about it. Thank you to all of the attendees who shared their stories and experiences.

Be sure to check out Lawrenceville United’s Presentation here: The State of Housing in Lawrenceville

We also have the notes that reflect the stories and experiences shared by the session attendees: Housing for All Group Notes

The next event in the Housing for All series happens on October 17, 2018 from 6-8 p.m. at Goodwill’s Workforce Development Center at 118 52nd Street – Inclusionary Zoning: a tool to preserve affordability  

Joint Statement Regarding Holy Family Site

June 20, 2018

Joint Statement Regarding Holy Family Site

Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation are pleased that 44th and Summit Development LLC has voluntarily withdrawn the demolition permit application for the Holy Family church, filed on May 29, 2018. Completed in 1940 to serve the growing Polish immigrant population in the Lawrenceville area, the church is a contributing building to Lawrenceville’s current nomination to the National Registry of Historic Places and one of the neighborhood’s most iconic buildings.

Lawrenceville United’s (LU) mission is to improve and protect the quality of life for all Lawrenceville residents. Lawrenceville Corporation (LC) serves as the catalyst and conduit for responsible growth and reinvestment in the Lawrenceville community. Together, LU and LC steward development in the neighborhood, ensuring that individual projects comport with neighborhood plans and values, and contribute to the authenticity of the neighborhood. As a part of this effort, our organizations created a community process that provides a forum where new development projects can be discussed, vetted, and measured against community plans and priorities.

Several years ago, LU and LC worked with the property owners on a robust community process for their proposed redevelopment of the former Holy Family Church and School for residential housing. This community process included large community meetings as well as smaller focus-group sessions with residents from different impact areas. Hundreds of residents participated in the process. In response to articulated concerns, the owners revised their plans to reduce the overall unit count while increasing the parking. Notably, the adaptive re-use of the historic church structure was central to the plans. LU and LC publicly supported these revised plans. Documents from this community process are available on LU’s website at

Our organizations were hit unexpectedly with the recent demolition permit application without advance notice, and we viewed the proposed demolition as a serious deviation from the agreements and commitments made by the property owner. In response, the LC and LU co-submitted a nomination to the City’s Historic Review Commission for historic listing of the Holy Family Church.  Prepared by Preservation Pittsburgh with support from the Lawrenceville Historic Society, the nomination ensures that—for the near term—any and all proposed exterior alterations of the church must be reviewed and approved by the Historic Review Commission before they take place.

44th and Summit Development LLC withdrew their demolition application on Friday, June 16th and released a statement indicating that they are committed to working with the community to formulate a new path forward. LU and LC appreciate this orientation and remain fully supportive of responsible redevelopment on the property that aligns with community priorities.  The continued dilapidation of a vacant and blighted 1.5-acre site in the heart of Central Lawrenceville is not beneficial to neighbors or the community at-large. We look forward to working in good faith and in earnest with 44th and Summit Development and other partners on a community-supported plan for redevelopment of the site that includes the preservation of the sanctuary.

We thank Mayor William Peduto, Councilwoman Deb Gross, Preservation Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville Historical Society, and Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation for their support in preserving this historic church.

Inclusionary Zoning Explained

As Lawrenceville’s housing market has exploded, one of Lawrenceville United’s top priorities for the neighborhood is preserving affordable housing. One tool LU has advocated for is Inclusionary Zoning (IZ). For more information on Inclusionary Zoning, please see the brief on IZ below. To download as a printable document, please click here.


Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) Explained


What is Inclusionary Zoning? The simplest explanation for inclusionary zoning programs is that they either incentivize or mandate developers to include affordable units as part of new housing developments of a certain size. For instance, if a developer were to build a housing project of 250 units, under IZ the developer might be required to sell or rent 15% of those units (37 units) to lower-income residents.

  • 886 jurisdictions have inclusionary housing programs across the U.S., reporting over 170,000 units created.
  • IZ programs are highly customizable to fit the particular needs of different communities. Some programs are required, some are voluntary. Some focus on creating low-income housing, others focus on more middle-income housing. Other key considerations include what unit size IZ becomes triggered, what percentage of affordable units are required, the duration of affordability, whether it’s applied to rental housing or for sale, and how to offset the cost of creating affordable units to developers so that new housing developments are still feasible.


What are the benefits? Inclusionary zoning is a proven tool for creating new affordable housing at a time when many communities desperately need it and public funding for housing has been declining for decades. By leveraging the private market, IZ is one of the few ways to create new housing for low-income families without significant public subsidy. It can also help prevent or mitigate gentrification and displacement when housing prices and land values increase in a community. Studies have also shown that it is an effective tool for locating affordable housing in higher-income neighborhoods and areas with better performing schools.

  • In Montgomery County, MD and Southern CA, half of all affordable housing production is created by IZ.


Why is it needed? In Lawrenceville, over 600 housing units have been created in the past couple years, yet almost none of them have been for the working class families that have been the roots of Lawrenceville for generations. At the same time, the appreciation of housing costs has led to displacement of low-income families. With large parcels still developable, IZ has the potential to harness development in the neighborhood to ensure that housing options are available for all income levels and so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of a neighborhood that residents have worked to make safer and less blighted, with improving schools and better access to transportation and local jobs.

  • Over half of Lawrenceville’s Housing Choice Voucher units (120 low-income families) were lost between 2011 and 2016.
  • An IZ policy would have created 84 new units of affordable housing with Lawrenceville’s recent development.


What’s being done about IZ locally? In May 2016, the Affordable Housing Task Force identified IZ as one of its key recommendations to address the gap of over 17,000 affordable units in Pittsburgh. Mayor Peduto issued an Executive Order in February 2017 to create an Exploratory Committee that would further assess the feasibility and structure of an IZ program. Specific recommendations were released in November 2017 to City Council and the Mayor, and suggested mandatory inclusion of 10% affordable units city-wide in projects over 20 unit, with a by-right tax abatement offered. Councilwoman Gross sponsored amendments to the zoning text for Urban Industrial in December 2017 that requires 30% affordability in projects over 20 units. LU is currently about to launch a community process in Lawrenceville to pilot IZ that could serve as a model for other neighborhoods or a city-wide policy.



Additional Resources

Update on Lawrenceville Nomination to the National Registry of Historic Places

Representatives from Michael Baker International, the City of Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office attended the 10th Ward Block Watch on 2/13/2018 to provide an update on efforts to nominate Lawrenceville to the National Registry of Historic Places through the National Park Service. For more information, please see the presentation below. Presentations will also be provided at the 9th Ward Block Watch on 2/20/2018 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Mary’s Lyceum, and at the 6th Ward Block Watch on 2/26/2018 at 7 p.m. at St. Augustine’s Church, Lower Room.

Notes from 12/07/2017 Community Meeting on Washington VoTech Building

Lawrenceville United facilitated a community meeting on Thursday 12/7/2017 with Josh Aderholt of Century Equities to provide an update on construction at the former Washington VoTech. Please see below for meeting notes and an updated site plan/renderings:

This community meeting was focused on construction and its potential impacts on the residential community. In 2015, a community process was held about this project in advance of their zoning process. More information on this process is available at or below:


Joint Comments from LU and LC on Draft Operating Permit for McConway and Torley

Joint Comments from Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation

Regarding Draft Operating Permit for McConway and Torley

On behalf of Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation, thank you for the opportunity to provide comments to the draft operating permit for McConway and Torley. Lawrenceville United’s (LU) mission is to improve and protect the quality of life for all Lawrenceville residents. Lawrenceville Corporation (LC) serves as the catalyst and conduit for responsible growth and reinvestment in the Lawrenceville community.

Since around the time of Allegheny County Health Department’s 2015 draft operating permit for McConway and Torley, LU and LC have organized a number of community meetings related to the steel foundry and the air quality permit process. We thank the Health Department for working with us to provide presentations to the community about the details of this draft operating permit. Special thanks is owed to David Good and JoAnn Truchan for making time to come out to multiple community meetings.

Based on the feedback we’ve received from residents and stakeholders throughout this community process, LU and LC respectfully request the following from the Health Department:

  1. Fence-line monitoring should continue and be a requirement of the final operating permit. Residents have every right to be concerned about emissions of toxic metals into a dense residential neighborhood, based on the documented health risks associated with these pollutants. Over the course of the fence-line monitoring timeline, the general trend of the monitored results has been a decrease in the average concentrations, which is reassuring. However, of stationary air pollution sources in Allegheny County, McConway and Torley was still the 5th largest source of manganese emissions in 2016, and the 8th largest source of chromium emissions, according to the DEP. Furthermore, the monitor continues to show spikes in manganese levels on certain days well above the 12-month average. The monitor also showed a significant and sustained year-long increase in chromium levels between March 2016 and April 2017, more than tripling the 12-month average. It doesn’t appear that analysis has been done by the Health Department on the potential causes of this variability, or on comparing spikes in emissions to production levels at McConway and Torley. Additionally, residents have expressed concerns about the monitor’s location with respect to prevailing winds, as well as questions about how representative the monitor’s results are, since it only runs 1/3 of the time and on a regular schedule that can be easily anticipated. In the interest of protecting the health of residents and providing transparency to the community, the Health Department should at minimum require the continuation of the fence-line monitor as part of the operating permit for McConway and Torley until these questions can be adequately answered by the Health Department.
  2. Emissions testing in the operating permit should be more frequent than every five years. Again, given the foundry’s location within a dense residential community and the known health risks of the pollutants involved, it is entirely reasonable for the Lawrenceville community to want timely and transparent access to reliable emissions testing results. Requiring emissions testing only every five years is too infrequent for the community to have confidence that the terms of the operating permit are being met. The Health Department should require emissions testing on a more frequent basis as part of the operating permit.
  3. Odor complaints need to be addressed. While the draft operating permit prohibits McConway and Torley from emitting malodors beyond its property line, we are concerned about the Health Department’s history of enforcing this. According to data from the Smell Pittsburgh app, 15201 had the 7th highest number of smell complaints out of 85 zip codes last year – 316 total complaints. 58 of those complaints specifically mention McConway and Torley, and the vast majority (86%) of those complaints were marked “definitely noticeable”, “it’s getting pretty bad”, or “about as bad as it gets.” 91 additional smell complaints noted an “industrial” smell or specifically mentioned “foundry.” LU has received reports from nearby residents noting that in addition to the smell, residents have experienced a bad taste from the air and stinging/watering of the eyes. Despite the quantity and intensity of these complaints, the Health Department reports that no notices of violation have been issued to McConway and Torley regarding odors, and it appears that no analysis has been done to compare odor complaints to the foundry’s production levels. Consequently, LU and LC implore the Health Department to mandate better odor control technology as part of this permit, or else to better investigate and enforce the complaints it receives; otherwise, the site level condition around odor emissions is meaningless.
  4. More communication and study is needed by the Health Department on the potential health effects of air pollutants to Lawrenceville residents. We know that Allegheny County is home to some of the worst air quality in the nation, that poor air quality creates significant health risks (particularly for more vulnerable populations), and that industrial sources are one of the largest contributors to local particle pollution in the County. Residents have reasonably asked the Health Department for more information and analysis on incident rates within the Lawrenceville neighborhood of health risks associated with the pollutants that McConway and Torley emits. Despite these requests, no communication from the Health Department’s epidemiology team has been received, and the Health Department declined Lawrenceville United’s request to extend the public comment period to provide time for residents to hear from a medical expert at the Health Department and have their questions answered. The Health Department should not have this disconnect between its air quality permitting and epidemiology programs. The potential health effects of air pollutant emissions should be central to the permitting process. Residents want to understand how the Health Department not only applies federal regulatory standards through its air quality permits, but is actively working to improve the air quality of the County. Lawrenceville is home to over 10,000 residents, including significant populations of older adults, children, and individuals from low socioeconomic backgrounds, who are placed at greater risk by pollutants and poor air quality. The community deserves further study by the Health Department to understand how Lawrenceville residents—particularly the most vulnerable—may be affected by air quality. Cancer rates among adults in Central Lawrenceville exceed city averages by considerable margins, and residents have asked for further inquiry.

In closing, we ask that these requests be reflected in the final operating permit for McConway and Torley. We believe that these requests not only protect the health and quality of life of Lawrenceville residents, but would also serve to strengthen the ongoing relationship between McConway and Torley and the residential neighborhood.

Thank you for your consideration and for the Health Department’s engagement throughout this process. We look forward to receiving correspondence on these matters.




David Breingan                                                           Matt Galluzzo

Executive Director                                                      Executive Director

Lawrenceville United                                                 Lawrenceville Corporation

118 52nd Street, Suite 2026                                       100 43rd Street, Suite 106

Pittsburgh, PA 15201                                                  Pittsburgh, PA 15201

(412) 802-7220                                                           (412) 621-1616                                           

Notes from Community Meeting on McConway and Torley’s Draft Operating Permit

A new draft operating permit has been issued by the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) for McConway and Torley, a steel foundry in Central Lawrenceville. The public comment period began on Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 and ends on Monday, December 4th.

On November 16th, Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation hosted a community meeting with ACHD to provide information on the specifics of the draft operating permit. Please see below for meeting notes and the presentations from ACHD and Lawrenceville United:

For a quick 1-page summary of the draft operating permit and the community meeting, please also check out this summary document that LU compiled with key information.

For additional information about the air quality permit and the public process, please see below:

How can the community have a voice in this process? ACHD is currently accepting comments from the public through December 4, 2017 in one of the following ways

  1. Speak at the public hearing on Monday 12/4 at 6 p.m. at Arsenal Middle School (220 40th Street). Must register with Karen Sagel at 412-578-8115 no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, 12/1.
  2. Email to
  3. Mail to 301 39th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

If you want help preparing your testimony/comments, PennEnvironment has offered to be a resource. Contact Zach Barber at 412-521-0943 or

Lawrenceville United also encourages residents to reach out to us with comments or questions at 412-802-7220 or