36 Hours in Pittsburgh (The New York Times)

Sometimes gritty, always hilly, Steel City’s charms are often hidden below the surface. While the revitalization of downtown Pittsburgh has earned lots of attention, lately much of the action is found farther out, in once-overlooked neighborhoods like Lawrenceville and East Liberty. Here, old-school stalwarts mingle with artsy young people, helping to create a city that serves as a canvas for the kind of urban dreams that more crowded and expensive cities can’t foster. It’s a place where abandoned buildings reveal art museums in the making, where decaying industrial sites prove ripe for urban exploration, where residential streets hide kitchens turning out remarkably fresh, local food. Best of all, if you aren’t afraid of a few slopes, it can be easily explored by bike or even on foot.

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Could the Next Brooklyn Be Pittsburgh? (Brooklyn Based)

When the borough you call home becomes known as one the most expensive places to live in America, it’s natural to look around for better alternatives. For a hot, Internet second, Buffalo—which recently made that list of cities that young college graduates are moving to—looked like a fine choice, so long as you enjoy brutal winters and more economic initiatives than jobs. But there is another metropolis the 25-34 cohort is gravitating toward that is considerably more buzzworthy, filled with James Beard Award-nominated chefs, tech startups, and the cool factor of a soon-to-open Ace Hotel. The city that holds all this promise? Pittsburgh. 

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Planned Smallman Place condos in Strip District selling fast (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Sales agreements are in place for about two-thirds of the 36 condominiums that a suburban Philadelphia developer is planning in the Strip District, months before construction is set to begin. The Smallman Place condos went on the market in the first week of April. “If you have the right project at the right place and the right price, you can be successful,” said developer Jack Benoff of Solara Ventures Inc.

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Exclusive: Smallman Place sells 20 condos shortly after listing them (Pittsburgh Business Times)

The first condo project of any scale under development in Pittsburgh in years is off to a strong sales start. Jack Benoff, principal of suburban Philadelphia-based Solara Ventures, told the Pittsburgh Business Times the new 38-unit Smallman Place in the Strip Districtgenerated at least 20 sales agreements about a week after the project’s condos were posted on the multi-list.

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Solara Ventures, Benoff find calling with condos (Pittsburgh Business Times)

By now, Jack Benoff counts as something of a development curiosity in Pittsburgh. In a market in which most plans for condos have stalled and switched over to rental projects, Benoff is that condo guy — the developer who has made it work selling condo units whatever the challenges. For those still dubious about condos in Pittsburgh, Benoff offers a different perspective on what he finds challenging.

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Condos back in local development discussion (Pittsburgh Business Times)

For years after the Great Recession, the word "condo" was largely banished from the local real estate lexicon. Far more condo projects were announced than left the drawing board. Financing for such developments, typically requiring half the units to be pre-sold, was often difficult. And demand wasn't always obvious. But amid the region's ongoing apartment development boom, I'm now hearing the word condo crop up more and more as a residential alternative, a chance for multidwelling renters to buy their own home.

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Strip Living: Will more residents change the Strip District's historic landscape (Pittsburgh City Paper)

Take a stroll down Penn Avenue in the Strip District and you get the sense of a neighborhood stuck in time. Vendors and shops line the streets much like they have for the past 50 years, selling produce, fresh seafood, Steelers memorabilia and more. But as you venture onto Penn's parallel streets closer to the river, you can't help but notice things are changing. Here, tractor trailers on their way to and from Smallman Street's produce warehouses dodge pedestrians navigating narrow, fragmented sidewalks, and residents walk their dogs along railroad tracks lined with upscale restaurants. The influx of residents calling the Strip District home marks yet another shift in the neighborhood's history — and that increase in residents is set to skyrocket.

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Report: Buying house in Pittsburgh cheaper than renting (Pittsburgh Business Times)

It's cheaper to buy a house in Pittsburgh than it is to rent, according to a new survey released by real estate website Zillow.com. Pittsburgh is one of the markets in the United States where residents' percentage of income devoted to mortgage payments is less expensive than the amount that would be set aside for renting a place to live.

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City of Pittsburgh school tax breaks approved by board (Post-Gazette)

If you live in the city and renovate your home or build a new home, Pittsburgh Public Schools will give you a break on paying taxes on a higher property assessment. The school board Wednesday voted, 8-0, to approve a series of residential property tax abatements, which had expired in 2012. One of them — known as Act 42 residential abatement — is offered throughout the city and provides a maximum assessment abatement of $36,009 per year on home improvements and a maximum of $86,750 per year on new home construction. The amount applies to the increase in assessment. It does not lower the prior assessment nor can it fall below zero. The tax break is good for three years.

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Zillow predicts Pittsburgh will be the No. 1 market for first-time homebuyers in 2015 (Pittsburgh Business Times)

Pittsburgh is expected to be the best market in the country for first-time homebuyers next year, according to new research by online company Zillow Inc. Based on a formula that considers income growth and home prices and availability, Pittsburgh was one of three northern metros at the top of list, along with Hartford, Conn., and Chicago. The top five were rounded out by Sunbelt markets hit hard by the housing bust during the Great Recession: Las Vegas and Atlanta.

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