City of Asylum looks to convert former Mason building in to “City”

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Photo by Justin Criado

City of Asylum/Pittsburgh announced last week it has reached an agreement with the Urban Redevelopment Association to purchase the former Masonic building on West North Avenue in Central Northside.

By Justin Criado

Northside-8735-smallCity of Asylum/Pittsburgh has already brought so much to the Central Northside neighborhood it has called home for the past decade.

The non-profit literary organization on Sampsonia Way announced it has reached an agreement with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to buy the old Masonic building, which is part of the former Garden Theater block on West North Avenue. The closing will be in April.

City of Asylum plans on making the space Alphabet City, which will serve as a headquarters along with a performing space, book store, cafe and workshop.

The organization has long been linked to the property, and the estimated cost for the project is $8.2 million. City of Asylum co-founder Henry Reese has said he has commitments for new market tax credits and foundation money this is near covering the cost. The URA will also subsidize the development.

“We are so excited,” Reese told the Post-Gazette recently. “This project has been germinating since 2008, when I started surveying people (in the neighborhood). The enthusiasm from all stakeholders, from the community, from our board, from supporters, government and writers has been across-the-board thrilling.”

Philadelphia-based developer Wayne Zukin was chosen in 2011 to redevelop the 12 properties, but the URA, inpatient with the progress, took all the properties except the Garden Theater back late last year. The URA has chosen Trek Development for the remaining 10 properties.

There has been no new news on the Garden Theater.

Photo courtesy of Allegheny City Central

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