Garden Theater Block secures three letters of intent


The possibility of three new restaurants coming to the Northside was announced this week by Garden Theater Block developers.

Three well-known Pittsburgh restaurants, Nakama Japanese Steak House, Round Corner Cantina and the Firehouse Lounge, have shown interest in the Garden Theater Block on W. North Avenue and sent developers at Zukin Inc. letters of intent to lease spaces in the historic block.

The next step for Zukin Inc. and the Urban Redevelopment Authority is to get leases for the spaces signed, as the letters are not legally binding.

“We’re excited about the level of interest in the neighborhood. The real challenge will be to convert these letters of intent into leases,” said Robert Rubinstein, director of economic development at the URA.

The East End Food Co-op was originally named as a possible tenant for the block, but developer Wayne Zukin said that plan did not work out.

“We were always focused on food services,” said Zukin. “People travel for food.”

Zukin also mentioned that an advantage of all three restaurants is that they have renovated and moved into historic spaces before.

Nakama, located on East Carson Street in the Southside, is currently housed in an 1893 historical landmark that the owners renovated. Owners declined to comment on the letters of intent, as nothing is final or official.

Similarly, the owners of Round Corner Cantina on Butler Street in Lawrenceville also turned an old hotel into a popular bar and restaurant, though the owner Derek Burnell said if they open a Northside location, it will be a different restaurant and concept.  

The Firehouse Lounge was a renovated firehouse in the Strip District that closed in August.

“From our perspective, we thought a mix of different restaurants would keep a good flow in the neighborhood,” said Zukin. 

If leases are signed, Zukin said construction will begin on the restaurant spaces in spring of 2012, though they plan to start stabilization work in the coming months on the Federal Street properties.

Zukin said the three restaurants will be in Masonic Hall, the old theater and 8 W. North Ave.



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