Hudson Companies hints at third project for Melwood at zoning hearing for 166-unit Parker project in North Oakland

The Julian, a new apartment building by The Hudson Companies on Melwood Avenue in Oakland, that is progressing in its construction.

Hudson Cos. is topping off the steel frame of a first project on Melwood Avenue and is starting on a second, seeking zoning approval for a 12-story, 166-unit apartment project called the Parker to neighbor the 10-story, 148-unit Julian project now underway.

But the company revealed in its hearing before the Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment on June 20 that it is adding to its investment along what’s been a largely industrial stretch of North Oakland.

As it works to provide parking for the side-by-side multifamily projects, Hudson told the ZBA that is also has a building across the street at 450 Melwood under agreement. Its two-level parking garage would be used for the Julian and Parker projects. The Julian is at 419 Melwood and the Parker is slated for 435 and 445 Melwood.

And Hudson principal Jonathan Hudson indicated the company has other plans for 450 Melwood as well.

“Our intention for this building associated with the parking garage is to do a residential conversion,” said Hudson.

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It was a passing remark in which he offered no further detail at a hearing for the new Parker project. Hudson needs zoning approval for three special exceptions, one to allow a 142-foot-tall building above the 60-foot, four-story limit, along with much larger floor area ratio, as well as for off-site parking.

The plans further demonstrate Hudson’s larger goals to create a significant residential node along Melwood in the industrial corridor neighboring Baum Boulevard.

Hudson added that 450 Melwood is a mostly-vacated building that had been been occupied by UPMC; a search of the UPMC website shows the address has served as a medical records facility.

He argued the plan to incorporate 450 Melwood for parking and a residential conversion would eventually prove to be a less intensive use on the surrounding neighborhood than the UPMC operation that employed roughly 250 people, now down to a small crew expected to leave by the end of the year.

A LoopNet listing for 450 Melwood shows a building that is currently called the UPMC Melwood Professional Building that was originally built in 1930 as a car dealership complex. The building totals nearly 60,000 square feet on three floors, along with the two-level garage with space for upwards of 174 cars.

The Hudson team neither received an outpouring of support for the new Parker project nor a groundswell of opposition.

Hudson pointed out that InnovatePGH has provided a letter of support for the project and noted a need for more quality residential property in and around Oakland. He added that Oakland Planning and Development Corp., through which Hudson presented the Parker in a community meeting a few weeks ago, opted not to support the project or oppose it.

One unnamed Melwood-area resident of nearby Polish Hill to speak out against the project at the ZBA hearing introduced her testimony by observing that “most people in our neighborhood were not aware of this hearing” and didn’t expect there wasn’t any point in voicing their opposition.

“There was a lot of opposition for the Julian. We felt it was too big for the site. The opposition hasn’t changed,” she said. “It is not an appropriate spot for the density that they want here.”