Garden Theater Block Development Updates

Garden Theater and ARDE

Construction work is ongoing at the Garden Theater which will be turned over to the restaurant ARDE so that they can complete their fit out of the space. ARDE hopes to open by Thanksgiving of this year.

Construction also continues on the second floor of the Garden Theater and is turning out beautifully.

Masonic Building and City of Asylum/Pittsburgh

Allegheny City Development is working to close on the Masonic Building with the URA in the next few weeks. Once this closing occurs, construction will begin and City of Asylum/Pittsburgh will occupy the first floor and below grade space, while apartments will be constructed by the developer on the upper two floors.

RFPs for Other Buildings

Next week, the URA will release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for all of the other buildings on the Garden Theater Block. Responses will be due in late August. Five developers responded to a recent RFP for the Bradberry and 1113 – 1115 Federal Street and these developers can amend their original proposal to include additional buildings, or just stand pat with their existing proposal.

Second floor of the Garden Theater
Photo by Craig Totino


View of the park from the second floor of the Garden Theater
Photo by Craig Totino

3 Responses to “Garden Theater Block Development Updates”

  1. Looking back, it was a mistake to have a single developer take on the entire “Garden Block” as has proved true from the current delays. At the time, the purpose was to prevent potential developers from “cherry picking” the easy properties. At this point the Garden theater will be the first building completed, this was viewed as the most difficult property. If the URA changes plans, and requests bids for all of the remaining properties, our neighborhood will be waiting for years for this project to be completed. The URA would do best for the City and our neighborhood if they sell off the remaining buildings as individual pieces. By doing so, the City/URA could receive higher bids on individual buildings and vacant lots that developers could move forward on in a quicker time frame than a bulk developer waiting for financing on the entire project.
    I would love to hear feedback pro or con on this idea,

  2. Tom Hardy

    One important point of clarification, the RFP that the URA has released for the other buildings on the block allows respondents to submit proposals for an individual building or the balance of the entire block. This leaves options for one or multiple developers to be selected depending on the quality of the proposals received.

    One other important consideration is that the neighborhood is in a much better position to solicit strong proposals from developers than it was three years ago. At that time, none of the developers that submitted had experience completing a project in Pittsburgh of this scale and complexity. When the URA received proposals earlier this summer on just the Bradberry and 1113-1115 Federal five developers responded and two of which had local experience with projects of this level of scale and complexity. Not only is the block generating interest from more developers now, the experience and capacity of the interested developers is stronger. This fact alone gives us more confidence that the balance of the block can move forward on a quicker time frame.

    As you point out, three years ago nearly everyone thought the renovation of the Garden Theater would be the most difficult aspect of the block and that is now being done first. Having this building well underway, with an award winning restaurant, gives new developers an anchor tenant to build around.

    Another consideration that needs to be weighed in the one developer vs. several debate is the need to coordinate parking, easements, and access to the rear of these buildings. This is particularly true with buildings like 1113-1115 Federal St. which back up against the backs of 2, 4, and 6 West North. Given how tightly these buildings are confined adjacency issues must be dealt with at one time. This doesn’t preclude having individual developers, but it does mean that they should be planned and developed simultaneously.


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