Marian Lien and her husband James Cook wanted to live in a neighborhood reflective of their family’s diversity when they moved to Pittsburgh from Seattle six years ago.
They made the move for Cook’s job with the University of Pittsburgh’s Asian Studies Center, where he’s now acting director. Pitt professors pointed them to Squirrel Hill, with its central location, 300 shops, offices and restaurants, and easy access to Oakland and Downtown.
Neighborhood schools and the natural beauty of Schenley and Frick parks clinched the decision for Lien and Cook, whose daughter was 12 at the time and excited by the academics and extracurricular activities at Colfax Elementary. Many families choose the neighborhood for the same reasons, Lien says. For years, it’s been a popular choice for buyers in Pittsburgh.
Lien, who is Taiwanese and now executive director of the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition, is pleased that the neighborhood’s strong Jewish influence blends well with the cultures of its Asian population, which has grown to 17 percent of the 15,110 residents.
“It doesn’t get any better,” she says of the neighborhood. “You have this suburban feel in this urban setting. We’re both seven minutes from where we work. … We have kosher sushi — that’s the fusion I’m talking about.”
“There’s a vibrancy here that’s sort of contagious,” Lien adds. “It’s exciting to be here; people want to be here.”
Though most of its housing stock is older (built in the 1920s and 1930s), this is a generally upscale neighborhood. It’s tough to buy a home in Squirrel Hill for $150,000 or less, although neighboring Swisshelm Park and Greenfield, both with A-ratings from Niche, have many such listings and are still close to the parks, businesses and restaurants of Squirrel Hill, Oakland, Downtown and The Waterfront in Homestead.
Squirrel Hill also has plenty of rentals, varying in price, Lien notes: “About 40 percent of the neighborhood are renters.”
Still, Squirrel Hill has many homes listed for sale at any given time. Here’s a sampling of listings, ranging from under $200,000 to more than $2 million.
$150,000 to $200,000
Neighborhood: 6372 Caton St.
Asking price: $179,900
Description: This three-bedroom, two-bath brick built in 1925 has front and rear porches, a fenced backyard and semi-finished basement. The house has original woodwork, hardwood floors and an eat-in kitchen. Beautiful arched doorways match the design of the living room fireplace and an arched window in the front door. “It could be a great first home or a solid investment property,” says RE/MAX Select agent Justin Cummings.
$200,000 to $300,000
Neighborhood: 6508 Rosemoor St.
Asking price: $219,900
Description: This three-bedroom, one-bath home built in 1928 has a formal entry leading to a living room with a wood-burning stove. Agent Brian Sergi-Curfman with Howard Hanna notes the newer kitchen has plenty of cabinet space, and the generous master bedroom has ample closet space. Two additional bedrooms are on the second floor; the third floor has a game room/guest room. Other selling points: integral garage, newer windows and boiler, a patio and fenced rear yard.
$300,000 to $400,000
Neighborhood: 138 Anita Ave.
Asking price: $339,900
Description: This unique home blends into its natural surroundings. Built in 1947, it has three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, spacious rooms and great closet space, Howard Hanna agent Andrea Ehrenreich says. A bay window in the living room and an oversized window in the dining room bring in lots of light. The master suite has an office, walk-in closet and renovated bath. Other selling points: the private deck, hardwood floors and integral garage.
$400,000 to $500,000
Neighborhood: 5883 Bartlett St.
Asking price: $449,000
Description: You can walk to the Murray Avenue heart of Squirrel Hill from this home, Northwood Realty agent Susie Holmes notes in her listing. Among the many details: a gas fireplace, crown molding, custom radiator covers, leaded glass window in the living room and bay window in the family room, coffered ceiling, and window seat with built-in bookshelf in the master bedroom. The fenced backyard has a patio.
$500,000 to $600,000
Neighborhood: 1767 Parkview Blvd.
Asking price: $550,000
Description: This three-bedroom, 2.5-bath townhome in Summerset at Frick Park is two years old. Its open floor plan has hardwood floors. A small courtyard outside would keep pets from wandering. Second-floor bedrooms have walk-in closets; a laundry room is on the second floor, too. The third-floor master suite has vaulted ceilings, recessed lighting and two walk-in closets. This home has security and sprinkler systems, climate control and an attached two-car garage.