Plans stalled for proposed housing complex, grocery store in Bloomfield

PITTSBURGH — When you drive across the Bloomfield Bridge into Pittsburgh’s ‘Little Italy,’ one of the first things you’ll see is a large corner lot on Liberty Avenue that its owner, Echo Realty, had big plans for.

But now, the future is uncertain.

Pittsburgh’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) voted to deny some of the variances needed for a proposed mixed-use building with nearly 250 apartments, green space and a grocery store. In its report, the ZBA cited the proposed building’s six stories, almost twice the height permitted in local neighborhood commercial (LNC) zoning districts.

For the Bloomfield Development Corporation, it’s a disappointing blow.

“The variances requested were floor-to-area ratio and height. Echo realty wanted to build a larger development than the current zoning allows for at that site,” said Christina Howell, executive director for Bloomfield Development Corporation. “We are very pro-density because we believe everyone deserves to live in the neighborhood of Bloomfield and access our amazing transportation and further save costs in their household,”

The plan has been in the works for months after Echo purchased the property, which currently houses Community Market, a temporary grocer in the building where ShurSav Grocery stood for decades.

Howell said she believes the city needs more affordable housing, with 25 units of the proposal designated for low-income families. She hopes they can find a path forward for the people of Bloomfield.

“We’re really here to facilitate development and help ensure that the outcomes pretty closely match what the majority of the community wants,” Howell said. “We look forward to working with them as they move forward to hopefully still find a solution for the site that benefits the community.”

Echo Realty has 30 days to appeal the ZBA’s decision.

Channel 11 reached out to the ZBA for comment and received this response:

“The Zoning Board has commented by issuing a decision. It is not appropriate, legally or ethically, for us, collectively or individually, to make any statement beyond what is in the decision.”

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