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City historic group approves plan for crumbling Downtown building

By Mark Belko,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Thursday, December 08, 2005

Pittsburgh’s Historic Review Commission cleared the way yesterday for the partial demolition of a crumbling four-story, city-owned building at 439 Market St., Downtown, amid fears that the failing structure is becoming increasingly unsafe.

“Time is of the essence. I can’t stress that enough,” said city Bureau of Building Inspection Chief Ron Graziano, a commission board member, before the vote.

The city proposal approved by the board involves the demolition of the building’s Graeme Street facade, gutting the interior, stabilizing some walls, and erecting a temporary enclosure to protect what remains from the elements. The plan, estimated to cost $100,000, would save the Market Street facade, which is considered to be more historically significant.

Still to be determined is who will pay for the work.

Last summer, the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation offered to lend the city up to $33,000 to fix the roof and clean up the building inside. The loan amount later was amended to a maximum of $75,000 in legislation that passed City Council. But foundation officials have received no formal notification on whether the offer has been accepted by the Murphy administration.

Preservation Pittsburgh has been trying to retain the Market Street facade and the rest of the building as part of a plan to develop a “transit cafe” at Fifth Avenue and Market.

(Mark Belko can be reached at or 412-263-1262.)

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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