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3 buildings near Market Street to be refurbished

Pittsburgh Post GazetteBy Ann Belser,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Three abandoned buildings that run between Market and Graeme streets are about to see new life.

Right now it’s hard to see the beauty in them. The windows of 439 Market are made of just screening, and some of that is gone. A portion of the roof has collapsed into the basement.

On the Fifth Avenue side of the buildings a mural has been painted to dress up, and board up, the first floor of 130 Fifth Ave.

By next year, though, the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation will join the three buildings into one to create seven apartments over one large retail area.

The plans call for spending more than $2.5 million to restore the buildings, said Arthur Ziegler Jr., president of the foundation, who will have a better estimate of the cost in a couple of weeks.

The buildings were all constructed in the early 1900s . The building at 139 Fifth Ave. opened in 1908 as the Regal Shoe Co. showroom.

Thomas Stevenson Jr., the architect for Landmarks Design Associates, said the building is architecturally interesting, in part, because the upper story was built to hang over the sidewalk and held there with steel beams and chains. He said inside the building the chains still are visible.

“The intent is to really have this be a historic reconstruction of the facades,” Jeremy Smith, assistant director of the city planning department, told members of the planning commission yesterday during the board’s meeting.

The board unanimously approved the application to partially demolish the exterior of 439 Market on the Graeme Street side and to renovate the three buildings.

The buildings had been scheduled for demolition until the foundation stepped in and purchased them from the city Urban Redevelopment Authority. Renovations can start as early as next week and be done in 11 months.

The plan calls for six one-bedroom apartments and one two-bedroom apartment. Two of those apartments at 441 Market will open to gardens on the roof of 130 Fifth Ave.

“We decided, after looking at offices and apartments, that it would be good to have apartments on Market Square,” Mr. Ziegler said. He said they will all be rental apartments, not condominiums. “We felt there was a need in town for apartments as opposed to condos.”

(Ann Belser can be reached at or 412-263-1699.)

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633