A corner of East Liberty faces a housing dilemma.
Residents near a large cleared space at Collins Avenue, Negley Run Road and East Liberty Boulevard want townhouses. East Liberty Development Inc., which owns the lots, favors an apartment building but is trying to reach a compromise with residents.
Last month, the development group asked the zoning board of adjustment to change the designation of the site from single-family attached to multi-family use because its staff believes townhouses will be a hard sell on that corner, used by "100,000 cars every day," said Ernie Hogan, deputy director of the development group. "No one is going to buy a house on that corner."
"Baloney," said Danielle Mainiero, a member of the Sheridan and Collins Neighborhood Association. "There are townhouses across the street. [The development group] spoke in front of the community and told us they were acquiring the properties for townhouses."
"We never made any promises," Mr. Hogan said. At meetings with the neighbors, he said, "we threw out development ideas: townhouses, single-family homes." The agency is "trying to work with them to figure this out," he said. "This has brought together a good group of residents."
Today, the zoning board was supposed to have heard the request for a variance so ELDI can build a three-story, 12-family dwelling with 12 parking stalls in the rear, but ELDI met with nearby residents this week to discuss compromises and the hearing was postponed until Oct. 1.
The latest proposal is a six-unit townhouse complex with eight parking spaces.
Mr. Hogan said the townhomes would be rented and that the complex would come under the management of McCormack Baron Salazar, which manages the nearby Fairfield apartment complex.
"We're not against apartments or the Fairfield," said Ms. Mainiero. "They have done wonderful things for the neighborhood. But the apartment building just wasn't a good fit for that site."
Nearby homes include duplexes and fourplexes, most of them owner-occupied, she said.
Mr. Hogan said residents approached his group several years ago asking the community development corporation to do something about that corner. "People were squatting" in buildings that were run-down; one had been foreclosed on.
The agency paid $300,000 to buy the lots and demolished an old bar and several dilapidated houses this summer.
"We were proposing a 12-unit building to fill the whole site," said Mr. Hogan. "We thought we would build larger to insulate people [nearby residents] from the traffic.
"We would not do anything that was against what the neighbors wanted."