Garden Theater construction to be completed this summer

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By Kristin Douty

Construction on the Garden Theater, 10 W. North Ave., has revved up for the final renovation stage to ensure that theater construction is completed by June.

On March 13, the Allegheny Central City Association held a meeting at the Allegheny Traditional Academy to discuss the progress of the renovations underway in Central Northside.

According to the ACCA, the Garden Theater requires three more months of construction before turning over to Domenic Branduzzi, the owner of the future restaurant at the same site called ARDE.

ARDE will move into the historic location upon completion of construction in June, when Branduzzi will renovate the interior building for three months to accommodate the designs for the restaurant. The restaurant is scheduled to open in late September this year.

David Shlapak, the ACCA Development Committee Chairman, provided a full update on the Garden Theater and other ongoing projects. Shlapak said that the Garden Theater façade is the focus of the construction plans for this spring, the results of which are already visible.

Due to inclement weather in February and March, the major renovation of the auditorium at the back of the building was temporarily delayed. The demolition of a large wall in the theater was also postponed until weather conditions improve.

Despite the setbacks, Shlapak assures Central Northside residents that “the Garden Theater is finally moving ahead according to plan.”

The Development Committee also hopes to establish more renovation projects in the upcoming year. One of these projects includes the Masonic Temple on 12 W. North Ave.

Shlapak is happy to announce that the United States Park Service recently approved the ACCA’s plan to begin the renovations for the Masonic Temple within the next few months – a critical step in the process because “the Park Service’s approval was needed to release the historic tax credits required to redevelop the building,” Shlapak said. The United States Park Service will oversee the developers to make sure that they retain the historicity of the building.

With the funding process completed and official approval obtained, the Masonic Temple will stand anew as a building for the City of Asylum art foundation. City of Asylum plans to establish Alphabet City in the renovated building, a place where local writers can congregate to share stories and attend events at a café and bookstore.

Following the renovations of the Garden Theater and the Masonic Temple, the ACCA hopes to redevelop two other properties just around the corner on 1113 and 1115 Federal Street.

The buildings on 1113 and 1115 Federal Street were partially renovated a few years ago by a private developer, but the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh is working with the ACCA to begin a secondary renovation of both properties. The official development plan will be finished by the end of March.

“It’s been a long haul, but we’re moving along,” Shlapak said.

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