Workforce development and for-sale affordable homes are part of the Larimer Vision Plan. On Tuesday, City of Pittsburgh officials announced that a tax diversion program will send a $1 million grant to each initiative. The money comes from the latest phase of developer Walnut Capital’s Bakery Square project.
Bakery Square sits within the Transit Revitalization Investment District or TRID, which extends outward from the busway’s East Liberty stop in a half-mile radius. Instead of all of the tax dollars generated there going to the city, Allegheny County and Pittsburgh Public Schools, the TRID allows some revenue to be used to fund things like new bus stops or affordable housing.
Walnut Capital’s managing partner Gregg Perelman said he’s excited to work with the Larimer Consensus Group, which will run the programs.
“They have an opportunity to really make an impact,” he said. “And continue the success that they’ve had over the years.”
Since the 1980s residents in Larimer have organized and advocated for the neighborhood. In 2014 that work helped them to secure a $30 million federal grant to support construction of mixed-income housing, green space and community-building.
Donna Jackson, chair of the Larimer Consensus Group, said Larimer used to be a vibrant community with stores, houses and gathering spaces. But white flight and decades of disinvestment hit it hard.
“They kind of came through Larimer and tore down everything,” she said. “And it was like, ‘How do you decide what to do and how you do it to make this a vibrant community?’”
Jackson said all along it has been their aim to help residents build wealth: to ensure families can access affordable rental housing, as well as to help homeowners invest in their properties.
“What was always in the forefront of our minds is if you lived in Larimer and want to stay in Larimer, we want to help you.”
But housing alone doesn’t build wealth, said Jackson.
“It is about building the quality of life,” she said. “So this workforce development will empower them to get better employment for their family.”
The workforce program is expected to begin in March in partnership with Pittsburgh Community Services, Inc. The Larimer Consensus Group will also work with the URA to develop for-sale affordable homes on Mayflower Street.
Those initiatives are just two of the investments Walnut Capital hopes to support in Larimer with its TRID dollars. Other proposals include infrastructure improvements such as a pedestrian bridge to cross over the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway.