New Kensington’s Pioneer Apartments taking applications for residents, opening Oct. 1

BRIAN C. RITTMEYER|Wednesday, September 2, 2020 2:35 p.m.


Pioneer Apartments in New Kensington remains an unfinished construction project at this point, but people are expected to begin calling it home within a month.


Wesley Family Services plans to open Pioneer Apartments on Oct. 1 and is now accepting applications for potential residents, said Stephen Christian-Michaels, chief executive officer of Family Services of Western Pennsylvania, part of Wesley Family Services.


Construction of the $18.2 million, four-story building on a former city parking lot on Fourth Avenue near city hall started in June 2019. The project was originally scheduled to be completed by late spring or early summer of this year, but work was delayed by the covid-19 pandemic.


Work stopped in the third week of March and did not resume until May 4, Christian-Michaels said.


While the building’s 36 apartments will open on Oct. 1, Wesley Family Service’s offices there will not open until November.


“We wanted to make sure that the apartments were completed first before our office space, so that individuals and families who are relying on this housing would be able to move in as soon as possible,” Christian-Michaels said.


Wesley Family Services will move employees to Pioneer from two locations — its existing offices on Corbet Street in Tarentum in the second week of November, and from Central City Plaza in New Kensington in the third week of November. While Central City will be closed, Christian-Michaels said the Tarentum location will continue to be used for other programs.

NDC Asset Management is the property manager.


The apartments are intended to be affordable for people with 50% to 60% of the average monthly income of New Kensington. That figure was not immediately available.

At one time, 163 people were on an interest list for the apartments, but many were not eligible or have found other housing, Christian-Michaels said. As of earlier this week, seven applicants were under review.


Of the 36 apartments, 15 have one bedroom, 13 have two and eight have three bedrooms.

Four apartments are designed to be accessible for people with mobility issues or other special needs and are heavily subsidized to lower the rent. Nine apartments are subsidized for people with disabilities.


In addition to the apartments and office space, the building features a community room for events; a bicycle storage room; lounges on the second, third and fourth floors; a laundry room; and resident storage lockers. Wi-Fi will be available in the lounges and community room, and computers will be available for residents to use.


An outdoor pavilion will be located behind the building. A parking lot for residents will be on Fourth Avenue.


Staff from Wesley Family Services will be there to help link residents to community services.


A van will be available to take residents to go shopping and to doctor appointments.


Christian-Michaels said they’re looking into installing solar panels on the building’s roof.

New Kensington Mayor Tom Guzzo said Pioneer Apartments is among several projects that will bring people to the city’s downtown daily, creating activity that will motivate other businesses to locate there.


”Pioneer was one of the initial properties that were involved in our downtown revitalization,” he said. “They provide excellent and needed services for many communities. It’s also important that they will have over 100 employees working there. It’s another example of people investing in our downtown.”


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