Hot Property: This Mt. Washington Duplex has Income Potential
The updated home is just two blocks from Grandview Avenue.
For contractor Barry Smith, the quickest way to find off-campus student housing for his kid was to create it.
At the time, his oldest son was attending Duquesne University and was looking to find a place to live with his friends. Smith found a fixer with potential at 191 Plymouth St. on Mt. Washington and got to work.
“I was in the construction business and knew it had problems,” he says. “I did a total gut on the property.”
His master plan included all new mechanicals, as well as turning the building into two units. Today, the 2,700 square-foot, up/down duplex has two bedrooms in each living space.
That was back in 2006. After it served the family, the duplex remained a rental for years. Recently, Smith took hammer to nail once again, this time giving the building a whole new round of cosmetic upgrades — from flooring to the kitchens — to prep it for sale.
“I originally loved the house for it’s classic Mt. Washington architecture,” he says.
It’s listed for $439,000 (MLS#1490204, Lynne Bingham, Howard Hanna Real Estate, howardhanna.com, 412/855-9154.) and is open in accordance with the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.
The exterior features white-on-white vinyl siding and trim. Located just two blocks from Grandview Avenue, near the Duquesne Incline, it has on-street parking, which isn’t an issue because all the nearby houses all have attached parking.
The first floor unit has a covered porch with divided light windows. The original entry was divided into an efficient vestibule with doors leading to the respective units.
Unit one features one-level living and includes a living room, dining room, two bedrooms and one-and-a-half baths. The kitchen has new cabinets in a mix of oak and white-painted finishes.
Smith created the custom island himself, and new lighting — plus lots of windows — make for a bright space. Stainless steel appliances and granite countertops create a clean, finished look.
Both units have high-end oak Pergo flooring that runs throughout the main living spaces. Each bedroom also received fresh carpet. Unit one’s large laundry/mud room has full-size floor units and cabinet space while the half-bath has a separate water closet.
Upstairs, unit two has two bedrooms and two full bathrooms spread out over two floors. The living and dining rooms are spacious — and Smith also added a personal touch to this unit.
“I built the large wine rack with butcher block for the space,” he says. It travels on casters for flexibility.
Two bedrooms make up the third floor, where lots of windows and custom built-ins give a nice presentation. They are serviced by a full bathroom.
The kitchen in this unit features white cabinets and open shelving, plus granite countertops, a stone backsplash tile and stainless steel appliances.
The dining area has a built-in bench and Tiffany-style semi-flush pendant. A mudroom has plenty of room for cleaning, folding and storage. There also is a second full bathroom with new vanities, surfaces and other amenities.
This unit has access to a fun rear deck — a modern metal marvel that gives a sleek industrial feel to the space as it leads to a fenced-in backyard. The entire lot size is 4,800 square feet.
“The posts were all there, I decided to run ½-inch conduit through to finish it,” Smith says of the deck.
The setup certainly will make a good investment for its new owners. Each unit rents in the $1,700 per month range, plus utilities, Smith says.
“I hope the next owners take the home to the next level,” he says. “I would love to see someone use it as a starter home then keep it for an investment like we did.”
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: Mt. Washington
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Just a 20-minute commute to the airport. Daily transport via Port Authority, including two historic inclines. Street parking.
Schools: City of Pittsburgh, features extensive magnet programming including the award-winning CAPA in the heart of downtown. (pittsburghschools.org)
Neighborhood: Perched 367 feet above the river bank, Mt. Washington has been named in the top three city views worldwide. Overlooks, inclines and a panorama that reaches from all points to the apex of the city and the head of the Ohio River draws wonders to visitors who trek up. Grandview Avenue is filled with cliffside restaurants, including Altius and LeMont, while St. Mary on the Mount Church keeps a watchful eye on the city below.