West Mifflin’s Westwood Village development ready to get off the ground
In the spring of 2009, Westwood & Associates LLC owner Mark Latorre approached West Mifflin officials with a proposal to build housing on part of the Westwood Golf Club.
Latorre purchased the golf course property via sheriff sale for $1.5 million in March of that year and two months later came forward with the plan to build 32 townhouses on a portion of the golf course along Commonwealth Avenue that was once known as Duquesne Golf Club.
In the ensuing five years, not much happened at the golf course. There were a number of changes made to the original plans and barriers to the development, which had to be overcome at the community level, yet little outwardly changed at the golf course.
Change is expected in the not too distant future, however.
In April, the borough gave Latorre conditional approval to move forward with his plans to build the Westwood Village housing development. It’s a three-phase project to add 73 new homes to the community.
Phase one calls for the construction of 20 units with garages that will have an estimated sticker price of $200,000 to $210,000, according to Latorre.
“They’re all going to have nice views out the back,” he said of the 1,700-square-foot units that will be built as double houses on single- and two-story designs. Latorre said he thinks the two-design approach will appeal to both older and younger buyers.
The developer hopes to market the houses to professionals who may be priced out of the housing market in Pittsburgh.
“I’m looking to go outside (the immediate community) to people who work in the city. It’s an easy drive to downtown Pittsburgh or Oakland or any of the hospitals,” he said, adding he already has five people interested in buying.
Latorre said he hopes to get a start on construction in late summer or fall.
Before that happens he must satisfy a number of conditions set forth by the borough in the developer’s agreement.
West Mifflin community development director Walter Anthony described the conditions as “pretty minor stuff.”
Anthony said Latorre will have to get bonded for road improvements he will have to make for the project because eventually the borough will take over responsibility for the roadway accessing the community.
It’s the same private road that now serves the golf course known as Clubhouse Drive. Anthony said it will have to be brought up to the borough’s standards for a public road before West Mifflin will take responsibility for it.
Anthony said the project needs approval from the state and county that erosion, sedimentation and storm water control plans are in place before the borough will approve its moving forward.
Latorre said he met with PennDOT officials last week and was granted approval to run a sewage line that will serve the development under Commonwealth Avenue.
West Mifflin borough manager Brian Kamauf said the addition of a significant number of new homes should equate to good news for the borough.
“It’s been years since we’ve had new development,” he said.
Kamauf said new housing will bring in more real estate tax for the borough but perhaps more importantly, “It can attract new, young and professional residents who are looking for newly built homes.”
The 18-hole golf course could be reconfigured if the later phases of the project come to fruition, said Terry Lesko, assistant golf pro at Westwood.
The first 20 units will consume the area that is now the 10th hole. Lesko said the plan is to make two new holes out of area that is now the 16th hole and some land that was, until recently, wooded area.
“It’s going to add length to the back nine,” Lesko said of the proposed reconfiguration.
Latorre said having the 18-hole course in the community is an asset but he hopes that demand for the homes is such that he can complete all three phases, which would likely shrink the size of the course.
Even if the project is a success and the size of the golf course is reduced in future years, Latorre said there is potential for a recreational upside as he is looking at the possibility of adding a large swimming pool for the development.
Latorre said he doesn’t expect the project will have negative impact on Westwood’s restaurant and catering facilities.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.