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Garden Theatre Plans in Works

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Five developers — three from out of town — are scheduled to present plans for redevelopment of the Garden Theatre block in the North Side to residents at a community meeting next month.

“This will give the developers an opportunity to explain their plans and for the residents to offer their comments,” said Mark T. Fatia, executive director, Northside Leadership Conference, which received the proposals this week.

The developers are considering a mix of residential and first-floor commercial, Fatla said.

The two local developers are Barron Commercial Real Estate of Pittsburgh and Aaron Stubna of Coraopolis.

The out-of-town developers are Resaca LLC of Bethesda, Md., Wells and Co., Spokane, Wash.; and Zukin Development Corp., of Philadelphia.

Fatla said developer Bill Barron has been active along Butler Street in Lawrenceville, and has started work along Federal Street on the North Side. Stubna is only interested in the Garden Theatre, which he would use for films and art projects.

Resaca, an apartment developer, is interested primarily in the Bradberry Building, a former department store.

Zukin, who recently purchased the drug store at Forbes and Murray in Squirrel Hill, is interested in historic preservation, a similar concept from Wells, which was attracted to Pittsburgh by Mike Edwards, president of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, who formerly served in that capacity in Spokane.

“It will be up to the residents and the conference board to select a developer or developers, since some proposals do not include all of the properties within the block,” Fatla said. That could occur by the end of summer.

The block is bounded by Federal Street on the east, W. North on the south, Reddour Street on the west and Eloise Street, on the north. A previous failed development attempt by Jim Aiello Jr. involved only the Federal Street site, which was 30 percent of the total block project, Fatla said.

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