She does it in the face of obstacles that would discourage even the most optimistic: lots of reasonably priced housing stock in city neighborhoods, low rental rates, daunting environmental and code issues, and funding schemes that require substantial public financing, without which most projects would never get off the ground.
But Picker's love for cities and old buildings, a can-do attitude and a knack for cobbling together innovative financing packages has won her the admiration of the business, restoration and civic communities.
Picker got the urban restoration bug when she helped the Friendship Development Association on a couple of projects. Her first project on her own was the FirstSide Lofts, Downtown, an award-winner.
Last year, she juggled several tasks, including two Downtown buildings on Liberty Avenue, and the Highland Building and the Liberty Building in East Liberty, a neighborhood that is enjoying something of a renaissance.
Her latest project, the Brake House Lofts in the Strip District, is an 18-unit loft development with apartments that rent for $825 to $2,200 a month.
"The most interesting skill I think I have is the financing, the partnerships and understanding how to eke the most out of the money that's available," Picker says.
Little surprise, then, that Picker was named one of the Best 50 Women in Business in Pennsylvania in 2002. Less formal but no less telling flattery comes as out-of-town developers and historic preservationists call to ask her advice on launching similar efforts in their cities.
How to reach: no wall productions, www.nowall.com