Menu Contact/Location

North Side groups at odds over former bank’s historic status

Wednesday, February 27, 2008
By Mark Belko,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The city planning commission will leave it up to City Council to decide whether a North Side building linked to prominent Chicago architect D.H. Burnham will be preserved or perhaps face the wrecking ball.

In a 3-1 vote with one abstention, the commission decided to take no action on the proposed nomination of the former Workingmen’s Savings Bank on East Ohio Street as a city historic structure after North Side groups and residents offered mixed views of the designation, with some favoring it and some opposed.

A Lawrenceville company, Bentley Commercial, recently purchased the vacant Beaux Arts-style building with the intent to redevelop it. At one point, Bentley stated it had plans to demolish the structure, triggering the nomination to preserve it.

Since then, some North Side neighborhood groups have been working with the developer to try to devise a plan that would preserve the building, built in 1902, while allowing development to proceed.

Some fear the designation, which would protect the building from demolition, could interfere with development.

Pam Minton, vice president of the Deutschtown New Hope Council, said restoration could be extremely expensive. With a historic designation, “I know what will happen, it will just sit there,” she said.

But those who supported the designation said there could be tax credits and other incentives for historic renovation that could lower Bentley’s costs.

Rather than making a recommendation, the commission decided to take no action, meaning it automatically goes to City Council, which will have 90 days to act on the nomination.

In a separate action, the commission did recommend a historic designation for a Homewood house at 7101 Apple St. that once served as headquarters of the National Negro Opera Company.

Mark Belko can be reached at or 412-263-1262.
First published on February 27, 2008 at 12:00 am

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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