BROOKLINE, July 13, 2011 – State Sen. Wayne D. Fontana today took part in the grand opening of the new 106-unit South Hills Retirement Residence in Mt. Washington.

“I am proud to have played a part in the community effort that made this project a reality,” Fontana said. “This conversion from a decaying old school to an attractive senior citizen residence says a lot about our community’s efforts to revitalize and attract new interest and investment.”

Fontana has been involved in the planning and financing of the project since the project was first announced. With the former South Hills High School having sat vacant and in disrepair for 20 years in the Mt. Washington neighborhood, it was an important piece for the revitalization of the neighborhood. After the developer was secured, and the decision made to revitalize the old building for a senior residence, Fontana was able to obtain a $1.5 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant for the $23.5 million project. He was also one of the strongest advocates of the project in its receipt of $1.5 million in PA Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) PennHOMES monies.

The two year revitalization project converted the decaying old South Hills High School into senior citizen apartments, common areas and commercial space. A total of 106 units are available with spacious floor plans. Numerous amenities were also included with common areas including game and craft rooms, a library, community room/dining area, wellness center/cantina, hair care center, media room, an exercise area and a beautiful roof-top greenhouse. The ground floor of the Residence also has approximately 12,000 square feet of commercial floor.

“In addition to creating this project from nothing, what impresses me most is the use of new and clean energies in this project,” said Fontana. “This project received a PA Energy Development Authority (PEDA) grant of $50,000 for a Photovoltaic Solar Array and Co-generation Turbine, which produce electricity on site and reduce utility bills by approximately $35,000 a year. An efficient water-source heat pump system has also been installed – and the building is expected to receive the LEED for Homes Gold designation. Projects like these are why Pittsburgh continues to be a lead in the alternative energies field.”

The South Hills Retirement Residence project began in 2005 when the URA approached a.m. Rodriguez Associates about the possible reuse of the building for senior housing. The developer is well known in the affordable housing industry, particularly for its inclusion of “alternative living spaces” for residents to socialize with others and stay active. The units and common areas in the South Hills Retirement Residence are designed to allow residents to “age in place.” The units are spacious and the corridors wide to allow plenty of room for residents in wheelchairs to move as well.

In addition to Senator Fontana, the URA, PHFA and PEDA, the project also received support from the Pittsburgh Housing & Urban Development Office, the Federal Home Loan Bank, the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation, the Pittsburgh Board of Education, and Sota Construction Services, Inc.