Leland Point: Making a Comeback as Affordable, Attractive Community

Legal action, new ownership make the difference.

If you've closely followed local news of the past few years, you'd never know that 's was once one of the most desirable places to live in Pittsburgh's South Hills suburbs.

Not for everybody, mind you, but for retirees and young college graduates especially, the giant complex was ideal for low-income and up-and-coming people who wanted safety, cleanliness and easy access to their daily activities.

Sprawling across 55 acres, the multi-unit, two- and three-floor buildings were well spaced amid generous lawns. There was an ease and quiet about the place. The big factories where many tenants worked each day were far away enough that the air was good—more South Park than South Side.

Nobody would have mistaken it for Ligonier, certainly, but even the humblest wage-earners could find comfort at the complex and enjoy their children playing on lawns and around well-kept buildings.

The history of the place is lost in the mists of time and recent bad memories, but the bulk of the complex is known to have been built in the 1940s and to have contained upwards of 1,100 rental units.

In the best of times, Leland Point was known as “Baldwin Court Apartments.” In the 1960s and '70s, it drew hundreds of residents to the South Hills who, otherwise, might never have considered living there.

Many of the people who started their adult and professional lives in attractive, affordable Baldwin Court rental units went on to buy houses in Baldwin, , Pleasant Hills, Brentwood and Bethel Park—helping to build the South Hills solidly out to the Washington County line.

Often, it was young, out-of-town engineering students at the University of Pittsburgh or Carnegie Mellon University who availed themselves of Baldwin Court's value and settled there as they started good-paying jobs at U.S. Steel, Westinghouse-Bettis and Fisher Body.

Other young people who grew up further south heard about the place from their friends. Retired folks, perhaps having raised their kids and sold the old family house, found a good, safe, simple place to live at Baldwin Court.

But then, the roof fell in during the 1980s as Big Steel failed. U.S. Steel and J&L went away. Westinghouse got out of town. Fisher Body shriveled. There was no more Union Switch & Signal.

It wasn't just the jobs of engineers, managers and line workers that were affected. In those years, big industrial companies had hundreds of good-paying, respectable jobs. Secretaries, receptionists, mail room employees and many other support workers made a decent living within a few miles of Baldwin Court.

When those jobs went away, so did the rental pool for the complex. Slowly but steadily, sponsored and subsidized rental arrangements began to supplant traditional tenants. Ownership changed. The name changed from Baldwin Court to, eventually, Leland Point. It ceased to be described as a “rental community” and came to be known for a generation as a “housing project.”

Crime festered to the point that Baldwin Borough officials needed to establish a police department sub-station in the very space that previously housed the complex's management office in better times—not at all a good sign for retirees or those with young children.

Chief Michael Scott has said that , which is estimated to be home to about 10 percent of the municipality's entire population.

Things deteriorated at Leland Point in a straight line until it all crashed in 2010 when Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. took the extraordinary step of weighing in against the operators and taking them to court on nuisance charges. That bold move forced the owners to sell the complex, which was then acquired by a well-regarded firm known as Apollo Property Management, LLC.

The district attorney's office and Baldwin Borough Manager John M. Barrett both have confirmed that the and that Leland Point is operating fully in the private sector under Apollo Property Management.

Apollo could not be reached for comment about the firm's plans for management going forward or about any anticipated changes in facilities, pricing or amenities. Stephanie Sturzinger, marketing manager for Apollo, sent an initial email to this writer offering to provide information about the apartment complex but did not follow up with subsequent emails or phone calls.

However, local sources estimate that the complex currently is about two-thirds occupied.

Can Leland Point make it back to safety, comfort and respectability? Sure—if tenant selection is managed diligently, the 60-plus-year-old buildings are maintained competently and the police presence continues.

Situations like the Leland Point of 2009 and 2010 are a municipal nightmare because many of the tenants living there under sponsored or subsidized rental arrangements didn't work—or didn't admit to working—and, thus, paid no earned income tax. Hundreds of police and fire calls each year became very expensive for Baldwin, especially when those calls originated in what had come to be seen by many as a deadbeat neighborhood.

But that's changing. The community is coming back. Most everything that ever was good about Leland Point still is in place:

  • The apartments are well-built and sensibly designed.
  • The open spaces are lush and green.
  • Parking is ample, with most of it tucked away behind buildings.
  • is right in its backyard at the intersection of Knoedler Road and Wolfe Drive.

Apollo, reportedly, is upgrading most of the complex's units. All of its apartments are air-conditioned, and heat and water are included in the rental price, making the residences very affordable.

According to Apollo's website, studio apartments at Leland Point rent for $439 per month. The most expensive units are three-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom, two-story townhomes at about $800 per month.

Other factors—outside of the control and interest of Apollo Property Management or the district attorney—also contribute to the character of the community and count as pluses for the neighborhood.

For example,  is still there in the heart of the community at the intersection of Knoedler and Keeport Drive.

Brownsville Plaza, at the corner of Knoedler and Brownsville Road, is coming back to viability as a walkable shopping option with several small businesses and services there, including a new Bottom Dollar Food market .

Curry Hollow Shopping Centre, also walkable at the intersection of Curry Hollow Road and Keeport on the border of Baldwin and Pleasant Hills boroughs, has a , GNC, Lifeforce Fitness Center, Bob Moore's Certified Tire & Auto, Pat Catan's, Subway, Family Dollar, new Dunkin' Donuts and other small enterprises. For those with an entrepreneurial spirit, there are several vacant storefronts in the center, which was built in 1973 and is managed by Grubb & Ellis Company, including the 96,000-square-foot anchor tenant spot previously occupied by Value City.

Do you agree? Is Leland Point making a comeback? Give us your opinion(s) in the comments section below.

Johnna Valente October 03, 2011 at 10:44 AM
No. It doesnt seem to be making a comeback. The quality of tenants still appears to be the same.
steve mongelluzzo October 03, 2011 at 11:13 AM
It is the same old housing project it has been for the last 10 years !!! NOTHING HAS CHANGED BUT THE MANAGEMENT. If they accept section 8 vouchers then it will still be the suburban (project) ghetto !!!
Denise October 03, 2011 at 11:18 AM
Before Leland Point it was called Green Meadows. Except the real name was Green Ghettos and it still is a slum. As long as there is subsidized housing and recruiting from Detroit and Cleveland, it will always be a ghetto.
Theresa October 03, 2011 at 12:25 PM
It's a shame they cant tear down some of those buildings, that appear to be unused and greatly deteriorating, and build a nice sports complex for the baldwin/whitehall kids. Open land is a premium around here as are available decent fields for baseball, soccer etc. Seems like such a waste of prime land that is providing little tax income for our school district.
Kathleen October 03, 2011 at 01:42 PM
If all subsidized housing is eliminated and screening is diligently performed, only then will this "community" become safe and livable again. I have lived in Baldwin for 32 years and have watched the demise of what used to be considered a great place to live and raise a family.
Rock Solid October 03, 2011 at 02:56 PM
Let me get this right. Half of all crime reported in Baldwin Boro is committed in this lovely pastoral environment that accounts for only ten percent of the population. The fire department responds virtually every day, the District Attorney's office takes an active interest in the place and the Patch is promoting it? Hmmm ... interesting!
PA Resident October 03, 2011 at 05:06 PM
I recently visited the office and toured the facility. Leland is no longer accepting section 8 and the new unit and property makeover is amazing. The property is spotless and there must be 200 people working on site. The new units are beautiful and have brand new kitchens and baths suitable for a king. If ther was an element that had drawn concern in the past it is far removed by now. Well done Apollo and welcome to Baldwin!
Frank October 03, 2011 at 05:08 PM
I agree with everyone here....in short, Leland Point (Which I will always remember as the green ghettos)....still sucks, and always will. And really $439 for a tiny studio? Give me a break. You couldnt pay me $439 to live there for a month. As long as there is section 8 there, it will be a ghetto. And when I do have to drive past there, I make sure my doors are locked. And that uni mart looks so run down, and I am sure that a many from the ghetto take "romamtic walks to the convenience store". Thats the way it is, thats the way I feel.
Kristin October 03, 2011 at 06:41 PM
Leland point has come along way and will continue improving. No more section 8, criminal checks are being ran on everyone. This community will continue to become better. For a place that recently hit it's all time low, it has no other option than to improve!
Billee October 03, 2011 at 07:53 PM
If I had to advise parents, I should tell them to take great care about the people with whom their chilren associate ... Much harm may result from bad company, and we are inclined by nature to follow what is worse than what is better. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Thought for the day - Big Brothers and Big Sisters are always looking for mentors of good example to volunteer.
Purple Power October 03, 2011 at 08:08 PM
The thing that the DA should have done was declare that place a disaster area and let the borough level it. It became and will continue to be the ghetto, end of discussion. It would serve residents and actual tax payers better to not have the additional police and fire calls there and use it for a large park like space!
Billee October 03, 2011 at 09:01 PM
My Dearest Purple Power, You win! No more discussion. Saint John of the Cross tells me - Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent. Peace be with you + ...
Kaitlin October 03, 2011 at 09:47 PM
I live on Hacienda Dr., just over the hill from Leland. Although the Foodland and UnitMart are still very run down, the quality of tenants definitely has improved over the last year or so. If you drive through on a sunny afternoon, you'll find plenty of people walking their dogs, and kids well-tended-to. This is not to say it's made a comeback, and I refuse to shop at UniMart or Foodland, but it seems SOME effort has been made.
Lisa October 03, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Plain and simple. Get rid of SECTION 8 and then we will c a hugh difference. Went thru on a nice sunny day with the windows down and the language I heard comin from this GHETTO was unbelievable. Police scanner always has a domestic there and guess who it is????
Dee October 04, 2011 at 02:15 AM
Just as Frank said..I make sure my doors are locked when having to drive through that area. I am wondering what drug the author of this article is on.???
Personal Experience October 04, 2011 at 07:00 PM
Walk in the shoes of a disabled person before calling ALL section 8 people bad! Because nobody wants section 8 “Human Beings” living in “their” neighborhood there aren’t many “Housing Projects” to choose from. Perhaps it is the SLUM LORDS that collect 2/3 of the rent from Sections 8 and the Housing Authority that is not guarding your tax payer dollars wisely. My disabled brother’s apartment was vandalized in June 2011. His car windshield was crushed in September 2011. When Maintenance could not find a master Key to respond to an EMS call, EMS used a crow bar to open the door. It has taken 6 months to fix the door properly, with him living in fear... and getting a bill for $800 for the fix..with Leland taking “no responsibility for public welfare” It is a crime to take advantage of the uneducated, poor, disabled, and elderly. Perhaps this editor should call Section 8 and inquire as to how many tenants have “Had the Nerve” to actually complain to Section 8 without the fear of retaliation. Leland wants to “LOOK” good… dig deeper! PRAY that you never get old or poor or disabled and are unable to defend yourself. PRAY that more caring Landlords welcome section 8 tenants. THANK the police & fire & borough attorney for holding Leland accountable. .....In addition to teaching your son to "play ball", why not teach him compassion and the law so that he can protect you when you end up at Leland.....cause one day you will be here!
Bald win win win October 05, 2011 at 11:47 AM
I feel that there is a need for inexpensive housing. But the complex is too big. Why not tear down the buildings that have been boarded up for months and go from there. I don't have a problem with the poor living in my neighborhood but they need to spread out and be in all areas. Make the complex manageable for the owners, police, ems and the fire company!
Kathleen October 05, 2011 at 12:29 PM
I agree that there is a need for inexpensive housing. The problem is in the management and screening process. Management needs to be onsite, not a "slum lord" that is only interested in collecting rent.
steve mongelluzzo October 31, 2011 at 11:54 AM
I will give it a year to see if anything changes in Leyland Point. I have lived in Baldwin for 13 years and I have heard the same story year after year. As soon as the new owners will not be able to fill all the apartments with people who work and pay taxes (school taxes) they will SECTION 8 the place to make their money !! The place is still a GHETTO with the people they have living there...just drive through and see the trash walking around and you will know that nothing has changed. They already ruined the shopping center that is adjacent to Leyland....uhmmm...just like a project in the city with no stores around.....when are these people going to realize that if they respected people's property that they might just get SOME respect in return. And to the lady that talks about how we should hope to never be disabled or in need of low-income housing....here is what I say.....The people who are not disabled should GET A JOB.... P E R I O D !!!!! Instead of having baby after baby and having me support them with my earned income (I work 2 jobs) and me paying for their ...daycare...health insurance (gateway) and don't forget their ACCESS card....they can go look for a job and pay their fair share !!!
barbara e. miller December 09, 2011 at 08:29 PM
Leland 0oint is not a safe place to live. In just the last 3-4 months I've had my storage bin broken into and several items stolen (which I have had most of it returned to me), my Verizon Fios line was cut my contractors working in the apartment above me, my truck windshield was shattered while parked in the lot behind my building, and just this week my apartment was broken into, while I was sleeping, and my laptop stolen! No doubt it was smeone who lives in the area and/or is familiar with the area and knew what they were after. The detective who was supposed to dust for prints hasn't returned my calls. It is also very difficult to get any repairs done unless you threaten to contact the media. I had hopes that Leland Point was improving but it doesn't appear to be. I am looking to move ASAP!
gema karpol January 20, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I agree that the Leland owners have to step up and make a difference. I believe that section 8 is still there and they are not screening tenants. Why should my children go to school with the same kids whose families do NOT pay school taxes? Leland is putting a very large damper on the residential homes that are in the very near distance. People are having a hard time trying to sell their homes because of the reputation of Leland. For the new owners, step up, get stricter with who you accept as a tenant and get rid of the run down apartments.
Lisa January 31, 2012 at 04:46 AM
I agree with you. Not all section 8 people are bad. The disabled have a tough time finding safe and accessible housing in the Pittsburgh area. I have a son in a wheelchair living there, and in the winter my husband and I had to go shovel the walks because it was not being done, so essentially all of the tenants in wheelchairs were trapped in their apartments. One day in the winter he got stuck in the snow, and and actually had to call the police for help. I was told some people saw him and did nothing. Until you are a person who has to live with a disability, and live through the daily challenges they face, you should think twice before stating that all section 8 people are bad or that they don't have a right to housing. What do you suggest these disabled section 8 people do for housing?! Don't they have a right to try to live independently? Unless you wheel even one mile in their chair, you do not have a clue, and should not judge. I wish people would show a little more compassion. I could write a book on the ignorance of people in this society! It is a shame more accessible housing is not available, and what Leland point says is accessible is not truly accessible. Banning section 8 sounds like housing discrimination to me. Just remember when you see someone with a disability, or low income, or elderly "There but for the grace of God (go I)."
Robert Edward Healy, III March 22, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Kelly, you cannot use that language here.
Kathleen March 22, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Kelly, Your comment is exactly why people feel the way they do. I don't believe any mention of race was made in any of the comments to this article. Ghettos can be comprised of any number of races including the white race. Maybe what you need is a major attitude adjustment and a hobby.
Tenika April 12, 2012 at 09:08 PM
I am glad someone stated that not all sec. 8 tenants are bad. I recently received sec.8 assistance and as a single mother I prefer to live in a small community where I know everyone. Currently I live in a large home on a quiet street..the bills are high to heat this home. I would love a smaller place that is affordable, easier to handle, convenient, and friendly. I am dissapointed that I can not live there just because I have sec. 8. I am a hardworking mother with no criminal history just trying to make a life for me and my children.
Jean Smith June 16, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Purple have you been up there recently. They have made major improvements up there and almost all of section 8 is out of there
Jean Smith June 16, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Lisa have you gone up to the high school football, basketball, baseball game and listened to the language of kids that comes from the better neighborhoods. There is no difference in the language that comes out of the mouths of babes.


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