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Downtown's Century Building wins Urban Land Institute's excellence award

Downtown’s Century Building was built over 100 years ago and it’s still garnering accolades.  The Washington D.C.-based Urban Land Institute (ULI) has awarded TREK Development’s 2009 retrofit of the structure a Jack Kemp Workforce Housing Models of Excellence Award.

The $18.1 million development is praised for two key components: its sustainable development practices, and a commitment to maintaining workforce housing in the heart of the city.

According to ULI, it was the first residential structure in Pittsburgh to receive LEED Gold certification.  Additionally, TREK installed an open-loop geothermal system to reduce the building’s dependence on non-renewable energy sources.

And together with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, a bicycle commuter center—made of recycled metal shipping containers—was installed on the site. 

PDP President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup says the Century Building is a "beautiful, innovative mixed-use development," and applauds TREK's commitment to creating affordable housing options in Downtown, and their attenton to sustainability.

In an effort to maintain affordable workforce housing at the site, a 30-year declaration of restrictive covenants was placed on the property, requiring that specific units be rented to households between 60 and 120 percent of the area median income.

The project is praised for its use of creative financing, which included funds from the Heinz Endowments, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, as well as the URA and the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development.

Century Building is bounded on one side by Katz Plaza, a 23,000 square foot square that is home to the  weekly JazzLive series—a project of the Cultural Trust—as well as a unique fountain and benches designed by artist Louise Bourgeois. 

Other cultural amenities nearby include the Cabaret at Theater Square and Backstage Bar, the Benedum Center for Performing Arts, and numerous restaurants including Meat and Potatoes, and one located in the ground floor of the Century Building, Grille on Seventh. 

ULI calls the Century Building a “model for sustainable development, adaptive use, downtown housing, and cross-sector partnerships.”  It goes on to say that the project is worthy of replication in other cities which are addressing concerns about pricing “essential residents” out of the housing market.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
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