The elderly residents who have just moved into the newly completed Fairmont Commons in Pittsburgh have seen a lot of change in their lives. They probably are about to see a lot more, thanks to the place they now call home.
With funds from the Pittsburgh Housing Authority and low income housing tax credits, a partnership between Presbyterian Senior Care and the Boston-based Affirmative Investments broke ground for the 60-unit, $12.2 million project in June 2005 to replace some of the 300 units lost when the Garfield Highrise was demolished. In late 2006, the project was honored by the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
With an on-site service coordinator, nursing care, a library, arts room and computer center, it's designed to serve low-income elderly residents over the age of 75 who, says Affordable Housing Finance magazine," need assistance with the tasks of daily living."
After an 18-month consultative process with the housing authority, neighborhood residents, the elderly and local non-profits, Fairmont Commons was also very deliberately designed, said Affirmative Investment President David Ennis, "right on the streetline, right on the busline, right in the heart of activity."
And that's exactly where it is, right at the intersection between two neighborhoods that, so far, have head in different directions - one a deteriorating area with many abandoned buildings and a second, across the street, rapidly transforming itself into a neighborhood of artists and young families.
"Fairmont Commons is as much a bridge as it is a building," explains HUD Pittsburgh Director Cheryle Campbell. "It's a multi-million dollar investment that, we expect, will help solidify all of the improvements that have already taken place in one neighborhood and will help inspire the same kind of activity and investment will flow over and begin the revitalization of the other neighborhood. And, best of all, the residents of Fairmont Gardens are going to have a front row seat to watch all the changes ahead."