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At work for Mount Washington

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

At the first of the year, Jason Kambitsis started his new job as executive director of the Mount Washington Community Development Corp., stepping up from the position of director of economic development.

Previously, he worked for the city of Pittsburgh’s planning department.kambitsis

The 32-year-old native of Mount Lebanon returned in 2008 after a stint in California, where he got his master’s degree in city and regional planning and worked as a planner and a member of the architectural review commission in San Luis Obispo.

Although he lives in Oakwood with his wife Katie and sons Kris, 5, and Martin, 10 months, he is the type of person Mount Washington is increasingly attracting — young professionals who want to be near Downtown.

“People of my generation don’t want to need a car,” he said, “and I hear it all the time that people are moving to Mount Washington to be more in the center.”

Mount Washington has had some challenges with blight and investment that it has begun overcoming with stronger market demand for housing and apartments.

The biggest thing that’s happening in Mount Washington is the biggest thing that’s going to be happening for some years — the creation of Emerald View Park, the city’s fifth regional park at 260 acres.

And as it progresses around the mount, picking up existing parks and greenspaces in its wake, it is also raising the value and prices of homes along it.

The new townhouses of Sweetbriar Village are selling in the upper $300,000 to mid- $400,000 range. They don’t have a view but they sit along trails of Emerald View Park.

“We are starting to see, even beyond the park, more people rehabbing properties,” he said. “There’s growth in demand for apartments by people who are upwardly mobile.”

The CDC is a non-profit economic development vehicle that oversees the park development, invests in properties and provides support for neighborhood projects and events. It also is collaborating with neighboring Allentown on streetface improvements that are funded through the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Main Streets program.

One of its long-term strategies is to hook renters and provide opportunities for them to stay and invest in homes or businesses.

One of its investments is in partnership with the developer of the former Prospect School, which will become 67 market-rate apartments. The former South Hills High School was renovated into more than 100 units for elderly residents. It opened in 2010.

A few among many things you may not know about Mount Washington are:

+ Thursday night is Karaoke night at the Bigham Tavern (formerly Kaib’s) on Bigham Street;

+ Giant brick towers that sit in a row at Secane and Harwood ventilate the Liberty Tunnel;

+ You can still buy a house for $40,000.

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