$2.5M Aeberli House project to begin
By Ron DaParma
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Allegheny General Hospital this month plans to begin a $2.5 million renovation of the Aeberli House, a landmark North Side structure adjacent to the hospital on North Avenue that has been vacant for more than two decades.
Possible new uses for the two-story, 12,000-square-foot structure include additional space for Allegheny General administrative offices as well as possible retail use — for example, a coffee shop, the hospital said Wednesday.
“Renovation of the Aeberli building is an important investment in the future of this community and another tangible expression of AGH’s deep and long-standing commitment to the North Side’s vitality and progress,” said Connie Cibrone, AGH president and chief executive officer.
“We are hopeful that this project will be a major catalyst for the long-discussed revitalization of the North Avenue corridor, encouraging other innovative development plans that will capitalize on its potential as a gateway to the many wonderful assets that the greater North Side affords our region,” Cibrone said.
Located at the corner of North Avenue and Sandusky Street, the nearly 150-year-old building was purchased in 1909 by William Aeberli and served as a funeral home for most of the 20th century. It has been designated as a historic structure by the city of Pittsburgh.
The building sits in close proximity to “Federal North,” another North Side area along Federal Street the city has long targeted for revitalization. Allegheny General already has taken a stake in revitalizing that area.
In 2003, the hospital became the primary tenant in a new three-story medical office building on Federal Street that houses a number of its key clinical services, including its pathology and laboratory medicine department and orthopaedic, gastroenterology and urology programs.
A renovated Aeberli building could further address the need to free up additional space at its main campus to support the hospital’s growing clinical services, Cibrone said.
“This is good timing for this announcement,” said Arthur P. Ziegler Jr., president of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.
The South Side-based preservationist organization worked with the hospital and a number of North Side community groups to develop plans to restore the building’s facade to its original design.
The foundation also is cooperating with the city and community groups on plans to restore the old Garden Theater, an X-rated movie house in the Federal North area. It was cleared for restoration by a recent court ruling and subsequent sales agreement that settled a decade-long legal battle with the owner.
“We are extremely pleased that the restoration of the Aeberli building is gong to take place and that Allegheny General has shown its commitment to preserve an important North Side asset,” said Joe Lawrence, president of the North Side Leadership Conference.
The first phase project is scheduled to be completed in six to eight months. The contractor is Bridges Construction, with design by architect Ellis Schmidlapp of Landmarks Design Associates.
Part of the original northern section of Allegheny City, the Aeberli building was constructed in the Second Empire Style. Its most prominent feature is a wrap-around porch that extends across the North Avenue facade and continues up Sandusky Street.
Ron DaParma can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7907.