Council grants North Side temple historic status
By Jeremy Boren
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Pittsburgh City Council Tuesday sought to end a long-simmering controversy by dubbing the former Malta Temple building in the North Side a historic structure.
The decision will protect the stately brick building on West North Avenue from demolition, but it also could prompt legal action from the Salvation Army, which has owned the former social club since the 1970s.
Salvation Army officials have fought the historic designation because they want to raze the edifice to make way for a larger $5 million facility on the same street. The nonprofit organization runs a social services center in the 81-year-old building, which officials say would be too costly to renovate.
Salvation Army officials last week said they might challenge City Council’s decision in court.
“We are very disappointed in the vote,” said Maj. Robert J. Reel, the organization’s Western Pennsylvania divisional commander. “And we are exploring our options.”
Members of the Mexican War Streets Society, a neighborhood group, said they nominated the Malta Temple building for historic status to preserve the neighborhood’s historic appeal.
In a final decision, City Council voted 8-1 in favor of the designation, with Councilman Ricky Burgess casting the lone dissenting vote.
Burgess argued historic designation should not be forced upon the building because it serves as a place of religious worship.
Jeremy Boren can be reached at email@example.com 412-765-2312.