Garden Theater construction in progress

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By Alyse Horn

Construction for the Garden Theater Building, 10 W. North Ave., is underway.

Wayne Zukin, Zukin Realty president, said with the Garden Theater in progress construction should move more easily and quickly.

“[The Garden Theater Block] is a complicated series of buildings,” Zukin said. “Restoring the buildings is much more expensive than tearing them down and building them new, so it becomes that much more complicated to find financing and grant money.”

Gigi Saladna, chief communications officer for the Urban Redevelopment Authority, which is involved in the development of the Garden Theater Block, said Zukin is waiting on funding for the Masonic building, 12 W. North Ave., in the form of Historic Tax Credits from the Department of Interior’s Parks Service.

Generally, if the Masonic building is certified to be a historic structure, it will give the developers a 20 percent tax credit.

Zukin said plans for the Masonic building are complete and he is waiting for approval from the National Park Service to grant historic status. Zukin has until June to close on the building.

The Central Northside City of Asylum signed the lease for the Masonic Building, where they plan to build a literary center, bookstore and café called Alphabet City.

Recently, Zukin’s exclusive time period on the Bradberry building expired. Zukin said the URA will be reimbursing his company in exchange for turning over the drawings and consultant work that was done for the building, including the ultimate approval of Part 2 Historic Designation from the Department of Interior’s Park Service.

According to a newsletter released by the Allegheny Central City Association, “A new developer will be sought for the Bradberry so construction on the Garden and Masonic can continue to move forward.”

“We’re excited to move forward,” Zukin said. “If there are other folks who think they can help with the project, we are glad to have them on board.”

The newsletter released by the ACCA on December 13 contained the following information:

At their meeting on December 12, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) voted to detach the Bradberry Building on Reddour Street from the Masonic Temple and Garden Theatre. Since last month, 12 properties had been under the control of Philadelphia developer Zukin Realty and Pittsburgh-based Collaborative Ventures.

The Bradberry has turned out to be more costly to develop than anticipated, the financing environment shifted during the project, and funding has fallen short. A new developer will be sought for the Bradberry so construction on the Garden and Masonic can continue to move forward.

ACCA believes these changes will help better position us for success and allow us to build on the momentum we have with construction currently underway at the Garden Theatre. It allows Zukin’s team to focus on the retail anchor of the block and opens the potential for additional developers to work simultaneously on other buildings.

Allegheny City Development Group has been granted an extension until June 10 to complete their plan for the Masonic. They are awaiting National Park Service historic approval.

The URA also voted to issue an RFP for development of properties at 1113-1115 Federal Street. The URA has already completed major stabilization and exterior work on the building. This, along with other recent improvements along Federal Street, should make these properties attractive to developers.

For more information on the process of preserving historic properties, visit www.nps.gov/tps/tax-incentives.htm.

Below: On Monday, December 16, construction workers continue development on the Garden Theater.

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