Hudson Cos. pushing forward with conversion for third residential project on Melwood in Oakland

With one new high-rise on the way toward completion and a second starting through the public approval process, Hermitage-based Hudson Cos. is moving forward on its third residential project on Melwood Avenue in Oakland.

In a Zoom development activities meeting Monday evening hosted by Oakland Planning & Development Corp., the development team of Hudson explained what is motivating the company to move forward with converting an office property that UPMC is gradually moving out of at 450 Melwood into 42 apartments as it tees up a second high-rise across the street.

The reason for the third project across the street from the other two: available parking.

“We’re confident that we have enough parking within this existing structure to accommodate both buildings,” Jonathan Hudson told the attendees for the presentation.

Hudson officials reported construction is expected to be completed next spring on first building — the 10-story, 148-unit Julian development at 419 Melwood. Meanwhile it works to move forward on the 12-story, 166-unit apartment building called the Parker at 435 and 445 Melwood.

Hudson expects to build the Parker in about the same time frame as completing the residential conversion of 450 Melwood, a project that will mean no real changes to the exterior and an interior build-out for an apartment mix of 26 one-bedrooms, nine studios, six two-bedrooms and one three-bedroom.

“This building will not take longer to complete than the Parker,” he said of the 450 Melwood conversion. “It could be done a little bit earlier.”

The Parker is expected to be built by Hudson on an 18-month schedule right next door to the Julian.

Jack Williams, architect for the project, said the company is also considering potential amenities such as a fitness center, theater room and golf simulator for 450 Melwood, which Hudson has an option to buy.

The 450 Melwood property is known as the Melwood Professional Building. Hudson plans to use the 153 spaces of structured and surface parking at the hill-perched structure as parking for the Parker, with 117 spaces to be dedicated to the new project and 30 spaces to be used in the converted building itself.

When asked by some residents of nearby Polish Hill about the potential for traffic in the neighborhood, Hudson noted that the residential conversion is expected to result in less people in the building than in its current use as a UPMC facility.

Before, UPMC employed upwards of 220 to 250 people at 450 Melwood, he said, now reduced to a one-third of that before the health system vacates the property completely by the end of the year.

The residential conversion of 450 Melwood will also include 10% of the units — or five apartments — leased out at rents that meet standards of affordability.

Combined, the three projects will make for a dramatic change to a sleepy stretch of

Melwood zoned for urban industrial use that’s mostly been a collection of warehouse properties.

Once completed, the three projects will total 357 apartments in a block of Melwood in which there is no residential now.

Hudson declined to divulge the total budget for the three projects, instead emphasizing his family owned company’s long-term approach.

“We’re really happy and excited to hopefully successfully pull off these three projects in tandem,” he said.

With no real changes to the exterior of an established building, Hudson is pursuing 450 Melwood as a by-right project with no need for zoning changes, the company indicated.

The goal is to present 450 Melwood before the Pittsburgh Planning Commission in September.

Hudson presented its plan for the Parker to the Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment in late June, needing three special exceptions, to allow a 142-foot-tall building above the 60-foot, four-story limit, along with much larger floor area ratio, as well as using 450 Melwood’s off-site parking.

Hudson is pursuing its three Melwood projects as it also has started construction on two projects in the 2900 block of Smallman Street in the Strip District, for which it generated $121 million in financing.

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