Story and photos by Mary Shelly
On West North Avenue, the Allegheny City Stables renovation is set to break ground this June, and to be completed one year later, bringing nearly three dozen new residential units to Allegheny West.
Initiated in 2016, the plans for the project include the renovation of the three-story building, new construction of a four-story structure in the adjacent vacant lot, and new construction of a fourth story addition extending onto the existing building.
“These Stables residences are the long-awaited ‘first shovel in the ground’ that will finally provide a catalyst for the residential makeover of the surrounding empty properties,” said John DeSantis, former president of the Allegheny West Civic Council (AWCC) in a newsletter for the organization.
According to Pittsburgh’s Historic Review Commission, the historic Stables building is the last standing public works building from Allegheny City, which is what the Northside was known as before it was annexed by the City of Pittsburgh.
Constructed in 1895, the structure was originally built to house Allegheny City’s Department of Public Works horses.
When the Historic Review Commission nominated the building to become a historic structure, it stated in the paperwork: “The building serves as possibly the last tangible reminder of these agencies during the pre-automobile era, when true horse power provided the bulk of hauling and towing needs.” It… “continued to serve the City of Pittsburgh well into the mid-20th century, witnessing the transformation of horse-drawn to motor-driven equipment.”
Andrew Reichert, president of Go Realty, the developer for the project, said the intent of the exterior design is to complement the existing structure. They’ll do this by using historically appropriate materials and honoring some of the original features.
“I believe [this renovation] will totally change the fabric of that community. It will hopefully spark new development in the immediately adjacent area, and bring life to a building and vacant piece of land that has not been used for quite some time,” Reichert said.
Go Realty is also renovating a nine-unit historic building in Manchester, building three townhomes in Central Northside, and renovating a few single-family homes in the area, Reichert said.
Because Allegheny West is one of Pittsburgh’s 12 designated historic districts, any renovations or new construction plans, which means changing anything from the brickwork to the style of windows, must be approved by the Historic Review Commission.
Ann Gilligan, president of the AWCC, said that the developers of the project have worked with the AWCC to ensure that the historic nature of the Stables building is preserved.
“This [renovation] will hugely transform this block,” Gilligan said.
Gilligan said some elderly neighbors who don’t want to leave the neighborhood, but also don’t have the need for a huge house anymore, are anxious for the completion of this project.
“If they are nice spaces, I could totally see current neighbors moving into a building like that,” Gilligan said.