Deed restriction in limbo for city-owned Bloomfield property with pending sale

It’s unclear whether a deed restriction, approved by Pittsburgh City Council earlier this month and signed Wednesday by the mayor, can be added to a small city-owned property that’s in the middle of being sold.

The legislation proposed by Councilor Deb Gross, D-Highland Park, directed the city law department to draft deed language requiring the Bloomfield property be used for owner-occupied housing and any future sale must be to a buyer at no more than 80% of the area median income. A sale must also ensure that housing-related expenses do not exceed 30% of the buyer’s household gross income.

Council voted in February to sell the property, sized at 2,400 square feet and located on Yew Street just off South Millvale Avenue, through its side yard program for properties that are generally considered unsuitable for construction. Point Breeze resident Kevin McDonough submitted the application to purchase it, according to records obtained by the Union Progress, and he owns an adjoining house as well as a few other homes in the East End.

The city acquired the property in 1984, and no deed transferring it to McDonough has been filed yet. Speaking about the legislation during a council meeting earlier this month, Gross did not seem aware that the property had already been sold by the city.

“Hopefully this will be a property, in my district, that I would transfer to the Pittsburgh Land Bank to be disposed for affordable housing,” she said.

Mayoral spokesperson Olga George said the law department is reviewing whether the deed restriction can indeed be applied to the property.

Gross has previously said the deed restriction could serve as a model and be replicated in future property sales. She added that such restrictions could be placed on properties to be sent to the city’s land bank, a government agency meant to help get vacant properties back on the tax rolls.

Jon, a copy editor and reporter at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is currently on strike and working as a co-editor of the Pittsburgh Union Progress. Reach him at [email protected].

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