Hot Property: A Rare Opportunity in Highland Park
The all-brick building could house two living units — or be returned to its roots as a spacious, single-family home.
Jaime Tracktenberg grew up in a multigenerational household at 832 Farragut St. in Highland Park before it was the trendy (or pandemic necessary) thing to do.
“My mom and my grandmother bought the house,” she says. “Grandma helped to raise us and my mom worked.”
The setup provided Tracktenberg and her sibling with a childhood where an adult was always available, and in a great neighborhood where kids still play outside and ride their bikes.
“My whole childhood was in Highland Park until I moved away,” she says.
Tracktenberg’s mom has since downsized to a smaller home, and her grandmother has passed on. Now, the home is on the market for the first time in 40 years. It’s listed for $324,000 with Rob Strohm of Coldwell Banker Real Estate (MLS#1481306, 412/638-1881, coldwellbankerhomes.com) and is open by appointment only in accordance with the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.
Built in the 1940s, the home features 3,400 square-feet worth of living space on a 53-by-39 square-foot level lot that’s currently zoned for multi-family use There is a large rear deck and a detached, two-car garage.
The all-brick home was built as a center-hall Colonial. Viewing it from the street, the bones show perfectly. There is a wonderful front porch and a yard if gardening is your thing.
The front door’s footprint indicates it most likely housed a large, three-panel front door. Today, it has two side-by-side front doors.
Tracktenberg says the house already was divided into units when her family purchased it. Her family lived on the second level while her grandmother lived on the first floor.
“It was nice,” she says. “We could go downstairs and be close to her growing up and be able to be close to her, but still have privacy.”
The first floor has a generous living room and a large entry into the dining room. The walls between those rooms are very thick, and it would not be surprising to find pocket doors buried in them. The 14-by-11 square-foot dining room has a single chandelier. Both rooms have carpet.
The 14-by-18 square-foot kitchen has wood cabinets, an electric stove and lots of natural light.
The original dining room was turned into a 17-by-11 square-foot master bedroom. It features a bow window, the original fireplace and lots of original wood trim. There is a small, 10-by-6 square-foot den on the first floor once used as a TV room by Tracktenberg’s grandma. There also is a full bathroom on the first floor and laundry in the basement.
Stairs from the entry lead you to the second floor, where there are two large bedrooms and a third, smaller, room that measures just 10-by-6 square feet.
The second floor kitchen is 13-by-17 square feet and has light green walls, oak cabinets, a gas stove and plenty of natural light. A charming yellow rotary phone hangs on the wall.
“It’s the same phone we had there since 1981,” Tracktenberg says. “I remember trying to pull the long cord around the corner.”
The living room and dining room are spacious. The bathroom has porcelain tile and an alcove tub, all in shades of white.
Flooring on that level is carpet and vinyl tile. The tall, 11-foot-high ceilings are intact and in good condition.
The rear yard is a flat-as-a-pancake, clean slate — perfect for outdoor living.
“We had a swing set when we were kids and a basketball hoop on the garage; we had so much space,” Tracktenberg says.
The detached, two-car garage has the original clapboard siding and manual doors. The heat and water are one utility. There also is gas heat and window air conditioning.
Single-family houses in Highland Park are hard to come by these days. The house presents an excellent opportunity for someone who wants to return it to a large single-family home or renovate it into two open-concept 1,700 square-foot units — a rarity in this market.
“The neighborhood is so nice,” Tracktenberg says. “It’s a nice size and needs some work, but it’s a warm place to live.”
Drawing on her years of experience covering the region’s real estate industry, Rosa Colucci’s Hot Property will offer an inside look into unique and historic homes currently on the market. Each week, Hot Property goes behind the For Sale sign to share the story of a special Pittsburgh area home. And four times a year, Hot Property will give an in-depth look at the region’s real estate market in Pittsburgh Magazine HOME, track housing prices and sales and detail where the hot properties can be found. Rosa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About: Highland Park
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Just a 25-minute commute to the airport. Daily transport via Port Authority. East Busway is 2 miles out. City bike lanes on major arteries. Street parking.
Schools: City of Pittsburgh, featuring extensive magnet programming, including the award-winning CAPA in the heart of Downtown. (pittsburghschools.org)
Neighborhoods Highland Park is a city neighborhood and home to the CitiPark with the same name. Its roots trace back to Alexander Negley in 1778, but the neighborhood was actually developed as a suburb to East Liberty where residents worked, shopped and commuted to other parts of Pittsburgh. Highland Park is filled with tree-lined, walkable streets, has several historic churches and is home to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.