New Granada wins landmark status struggle

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After a 10-year battle, the New Granada Theater has been designated as a historical landmark. The more than 80-year-old structure, which has been used as a movie theater, live entertainment venue and community center, will now be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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POST STABILIZATION—This photo shows the current status of the The New Granada Theater after much needed improvements.

“It is an iconic structure that represents our rich heritage and culture, particularly in the arts and culture,” said Marimba Milliones, chair of the New Granada Theater Committee. “Tomorrow, it will play a starring role in the Hill District’s economic viability as a large scale mixed-used development.”

The Hill Community Development Corporation and the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation led the 10 year submission process. Primarily, this new designation will aid both organizations in their fundraising efforts.

“This landmark designation means that the project is eligible for federal historic tax credits which will support our fundraising efforts,” Milliones said. “Essentially what it does is it allows private entities to give to non-profit organizations in return for tax credits. It supports fundraising. We are just coming to a point where we are reentering a new fundraising campaign.”

The New Granada has had a long storied history since Louis Bellinger, Pittsburgh’s first African-American architect, first designed it in 1927. Before the Hill CDC purchased it in 1995, after years of vacancy, it served as the home of the Knights of Pythias Temple, an African-American fraternal organization, from 1928 to 1936.

Today, thanks to support provided by The Heinz Endowments, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program, The Reinvestment Fund, State Representative Jake Wheatley, McAuley Ministries Foundation and Allegheny County’s Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund, the New Granada has completed its third stage of stabilization. The $1.1 million raised for stabilization of the building was used for installation of a new roof, total clean-out, masonry repair and structural restoration.

“When we first started this thing there was no roof, the masonry was compromised. What you have now is a completely cleared space that is ready for redevelopment,” Milliones said. “I can tell you it’ll be mixed use. It’ll include office space, retail space and possibly institutional space for an academic institution or another large tenant.”

The Hill CDC and PHLF have not released their specific plan for the space.

“The renewal of this building will anchor future development in the entire area,” said PHLF President Arthur Ziegler. “We look forward to the results of the visioning process underway by the Hill CDC.”

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