Swissvale’s historic schoolhouse had become an eyesore.
Since 2012, the former Deniston School has sat vacant and in disrepair. But a collaborative effort of borough officials, the Swissvale Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO) and the Mon Valley Initiative (MVI) is giving new life to the property at the corner of Monroe Street and McClure Avenue.
Within the month, the first stage of construction will begin on a $3 million project that will transform the historic schoolhouse into 18 condominiums. This will be the second residential use for the building, which was built in 1902, converted into apartments in the 1980s and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
“The condition of the building was really bringing down an otherwise fantastic neighborhood where property values have been rising recently,” says Patrick Shattuck, MVI’s real estate director.
“All of the character-defining features will stay,” he adds.
Those features include the building’s original large windows, staircase, decorative cornices and moldings. Within the individual units, Shattuck says, a “classroom feel” will be restored and ceilings that had been dropped during past renovations will be raised to 15 feet.
Prices will range from $150,000 to $210,000. But as many as eight units will be structured through the community land trust model, which will reduce their cost by $50,000. To be eligible for these condos, residents can earn up to 80 percent of the area’s median income. The affordable units will be subsidized by Allegheny County Economic Development.
Modern finishes like granite countertops, engineered wood floors and ceramic tile will enhance the building’s