Soffer teams with Village Green on new SouthSide Works project

The Soffer Organization has a new partner and a working design in place for a new apartment building on what is now a surface parking lot at the SouthSide Works.

And it’s looking more and more like this new partner is one that will become increasingly familiar in Pittsburgh.

Soffer is working with suburban Detroit-based Village Green Associates, the same group pursuing a 215-unit apartment building at the corner of Baum Boulevard and Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield. Village Green owns and manages more than 40,000 apartments in 12 states.

Tom Despres, CFO of the Soffer Organization, said Village Green was presented to the company as a potential partner by the Pittsburgh office of HFF Inc., a firm the company has worked with in the past.

“We did a lot of research and saw that they had a unique apartment product which I don’t think you really see here in western Pennsylvania,” Despres said. “We’re very pleased with the product that they want to put here.”

The partnership is working with the same architecture firm, BKV Group, that is designing the Morrow Park City Apartments project in Bloomfield. The current plan on the South Side calls for a design with Art Deco flavor that will include a mix of between 215 and 262 one- and two-bedroom apartments. The development team is considering a plan to include a number of micro-sized apartments, which could drive the total number of units above 260.

The project is expected to follow Village Green’s formula of a fully self-contained community, Despres added, featuring an interior courtyard with a pool, sauna and clubhouse along with other amenities.

The project is scheduled to be presented at the next board meeting of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, he said.

A key component of the plan, Despres added, was an accompanying parking garage the URA is studying that would provide spaces for residents and has been a part of the long-established master plan for the SouthSide Works.

The apartment project has already been presented to the design review committee of the South Side Planning Forum, where it has established support.

Aaron Sukenik, a board member of the design review committee and executive director of the Hilltop Alliance, a community group representing a host of south Pittsburgh neighborhoods, gave the apartment project high praise.

“They’re definitely coming in and raising the bar with the design level, that’s for sure,” he said of Village Green. “Everything we’ve seen from them seems like it’s high quality.”

There’s no timetable yet for the project. But it can expect to join at least three other apartment projects in the vicinity that are either open are expected to be developed soon. That includes the Brix at 26, the plan by a team led by Oxford Development Co. to build a new apartment project on Hot Metal Street of at least 170 units, as well as a plan by Ralph Falbo to build more than 50 apartments near the UPMC Sports Medicine Complex.

Despres said that more people living in nearby apartments can only help the retail at the SouthSide Works and that Village Green isn’t shy when it comes to other apartment operators in the vicinity.

“Let’s put it this way,” he said. “They’re not afraid of the competition.”

Tim Schooley covers retail, real estate, construction, hospitality, arts and entertainment, and government. Contact him at or 412-208-3826.