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East Liberty development would create public plaza

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Sam Spatter
Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A proposed $40 million development would bring a second new hotel, another ethnic-style restaurant and other amenities to the city’s rebounding East Liberty neighborhood.

Montrose Exchange, a mixed-use project proposed by Morgan Development Group, will be centered on a new public plaza called Kirkwood Square at North Highland Avenue and Broad Street, according to plans presented to the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority last week.

“We will be seeking about $12 million in funding through the URA, both in low-interest loans and grants,” said Nigel Parkinson, managing partner at Morgan, a firm with offices in Washington and Pittsburgh.

He hopes to begin construction early next year on the project, which will be located in an area bounded by Highland Avenue and Broad, Kirkwood and Whitfield streets.

The Montrose project comprises new construction and renovation of nine properties on three blocks along Broad and Highland. All properties are owned by his firm, Parkinson said.

Designed by architect Andrew Moss, of Moss Architects in East Liberty, the development will build on other projects already under way and planned in the East Liberty neighborhood.

It will tie into three blocks on Broad being improved with new sidewalks, street trees, pedestrian lighting and parking.

The 135-room hotel, named Hotel Indigo, is planned at a site at 129-131 N. Highland. Two vacant buildings there are to be demolished, Parkinson said.

The restaurant, Latin Concepts, would be across the street from the hotel, at the site of the former American Legion Post building.

Hotel Indigo will include a lobby that will tie into the 126 N. Whitfield building and the historic Kirkwood (Governor’s) Hotel building that is to be renovated. Hotel Indigo will incorporate a garden area that will provide a semi-public green space for outdoor dining and special events, Moss said.

Latin Concepts will bring three new establishments to East Liberty. They are the Chi Cha Lounge, offering Modern Andean Cuisine; Agua, with items originating from Peru and Ecuador’s Andean grains, fruits and seafood; and Menta, a planned dance destination.

“If the Montrose development comes to fruition, it will have a tremendous impact on revitalizing the community and serve as the heartbeat of East Liberty,” said Paul Brecht, executive director of East Liberty Quarter Chamber of Commerce.

Already planned for East Liberty is a $20 million Marriott SpringHill Suites to be developed by Kratsa Properties of Harmar at the corner of Highland and Centre avenues. That proposed hotel is adjacent to the Highland Building, which the Pittsburgh-based Zambrano Corp. plans to retrofit into residential units, either condominiums or apartments.

Sam Spatter can be reached at or 412-320-7843.

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