COMING SOON—Developers expect to begin work renovating the Garden Theater and adjoining Masonic Temple into apartment, office, social service space and a restaurant. (Photo J.L. Martello)


After more than a decade of promises and an expensive eminent domain lawsuit, the Urban Redevelopment Authority has authorized the sale of the Garden Theater building, the adjacent Masonic Temple building and the former Bradbury Apartment building to developer Allegheny City Development, LLC, for $106,000.

The deal also includes nearly $3.2 million in loans and another $1.48 million in grants to renovate the historic Masonic Temple and Garden Theater on West North Avenue, which are the final pieces of the Federal North development puzzle.

Authority board member and state Sen. Jim Ferlo succinctly summed up the deal at the June 13 board meeting, saying, “We need this done.”

The plan calls for the nonprofit City of Asylum to occupy the first floor of the Masonic Temple. The upper floors will be converted into eight apartments with monthly rents ranging from $1,343 to $1,999.

The Garden Theater plan calls for Lawrenceville restaurant Piccolo Forno to occupy 4,000 square feet on the main floor, with 2,000 square feet of office space on the upper floor. The development partners have until Sept. 30 to submit final plans for the Bradbury building.  Partner Wayne Zukin said they plan to close on the sale within 30 days.

On a much larger scale, the board also approved an $80 million Tax Increment Financing agreement that will allow the Regional Industrial Development Corporation to reclaim the largest remaining brownfield in the city, the 178-acre former US Steel site in Hazelwood.

The TIF would go towards on-site storm water, sewage and utility infrastructure, creating a street grid that ties into 2nd Avenue. Off-site improvements include infrastructure improvements to 2nd Avenue and the construction of a new Hazelwood Neighborhood Center that will house an expanded Carnegie Library branch.

The development is projected to create 320 construction jobs, more than 4,700 permanent jobs, and will create more than 1 million square feet of office and research and development space, more than 1,500 residential housing units and more than 20 acres of parks and public amenities.

The TIF will also help pay debt service on the more than $1 billion in total development costs, which the developers are self-financing.

The board also authorized its participation, along with the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh and its developer McCormack Baron Salazar, in a $30 million US Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhoods Grant application to help rebuild Larimer.

In a complementary move, the board voted to acquire 352 properties in Larimer for use in the Choice Neighborhoods program. The properties will either be renovated, used for open space or for new construction in accordance with the Larimer Vision Plan.

The board also authorized two grants for Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh to perform home repair work. A $50,000 grant will support the renovation of eight owner-occupied houses in Homewood, and serve as matching funds for a $500,000 RK Mellon Foundation grant that would renovate 50 homes.

Similarly a $25,000 grant to repair four homes in the Hilltop neighborhoods will serve as the match for a $75,000 Pittsburgh Foundation grant to support renovations on another 24 homes.


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