Pittsburgh authority terminates developer’s rights to restore old Masonic building


Photo from the Northside Chronicle archives

The Masonic Temple to the right of the Garden Theater along West North Avenue is being prepared for City of Asylum’s Alphabet City literary center. The Urban Redevelopment of Pittsburgh terminated a developer’s rights to continue on the project.


By Justin Criado

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) terminated the Allegheny City Development Group LLC’s rights to develop the Masonic Temple building on Central Northside’s West North Avenue next to the old Garden Theater, according to a press release.

The termination follows a 45-day extension that was granted in June and expired on July 28, 2014.

City of Asylum Pittsburgh, which is based on the neighborhood’s Sampsonia Way, plans to build out its literary center, Alphabet City.

“Our goal is to see the City of Asylum Pittsburgh in the Masonic Building, and we are working with them to expedite the project,” URA acting executive director Robert Rubinstein said in the press release.

The new Alphabet City center will include offices, a bookstore, performance and workshop spaces, and a full-service restaurant.

“We believe that Alphabet City will be the cultural and social hub of the community and will spur revitalization of the Federal North area,” Mayor Bill Peduto’s chief of staff and URA board chairman Kevin Acklin said in a statement.

The URA board still has to approve City of Asylum’s intentions, according to the press release.

“We appreciate how creative the URA has been in responding to the situation,” City of Asylum co-founder Henry Reese said. “It gives us confidence to know that the URA and the city share our commitment and our belief that Alphabet City is a transformative project.”

Allegheny City Development Group, headed by Philadelphia-based developer Wayne Zukin, will continue to redevelop the Garden Theater, which is slated to open as a new Italian restaurant in 2015.


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