by Rachel Jones | Photographs from Kristina Helen Schmidt
——— Who says you can’t go home again? South Hills native Justin Cipriani proves that yes, indeed, you can. Cipriani moved to San Francisco in 2001 after earning his degree in architecture from Cornell University. There, he built high-end, custom homes, which perfected his work with green, sustainable technology. “My background work in California helped mold the footprint of how I see sustainable design today,” Cipriani says. After a “brief “stint in the Golden State — nine years — the developer packed up his newfound knowledge and moved back to Pittsburgh. Now, he’s modernizing one of our favorite neighborhoods: Mt. Washington.
Since his return, Cipriani Studios’ first big break was a set of condos on Neff Street on Emerald View Park. Two out of the three stunning homes — Cipriani lives in the third! — are currently on the market. Both the ground level suite (Condo A: four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths) and the penthouse suite (Condo C: three bedrooms, two full baths) offer breathtaking, panoramic views of the city through two story, floor-to-ceiling living room windows and lavish decks. The view from Mt. Washington is one of the reasons Cipriani wanted to build in the area. “Our most fruitful path was focusing on neighborhoods we love,” Cipriani says. “It was really the most magical place, for me, in Pittsburgh. It’s really overlooked in a lot of ways.”
In order to help keep the focus on Neff Street, Cipriani serves on the board of directors for the Mt. Washington Community Development Committee (MWCDC). The nonprofit is dedicated to revitalizing the neighborhood’s real estate and developing the surrounding park and trail systems. Besides the parks, the biggest perks of the condos are the green and technological features, such as controlling the thermostat through Wi-Fi. “Our clientele are more modern and technically savvy,” Cipriani says. “So, we want more modern, forward-looking designs.”
Bailey Park is Cipriani’s newest project. “We asked the MWCDC development committee what parcels or areas of their neighborhood they’d like to see us rejuvenate,” Cipriani says. Someone from the Parks and Recreations committee suggested an acre-and-a-half of unused park land directly adjacent to Grand View Park. In the past, several developers have tried to utilize this land, but were turned down by the community. But Cipriani got the green light for his development of 15 modern, single-family homes, and his goal is to turn Bailey Park into a miniaturized, accessible version of the luxury condos on Neff Street. Cipriani Studios is currently taking pre-orders from prospective homeowners.
For more information, contact Brian Sergi-Curfman with Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, 412.421.9120. howardhanna.com.
Neff Street neighbors will be seeing green once they hear about these sustainable features and building materials:
• Dual-zone HVAC
• Organic insulation
• No VOC paints
• Recycled content quartz countertops
• On demand, tank-less water heater
• Low-e double-glazed windows
This article is featured in the February 2013 issue of WHIRL Magazine.
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