Two major Pittsburgh arts institutions announced last week they have purchased properties to ensure the continued success of their endeavors. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
(PBT) has acquired a property in Lawrenceville that it plans to convert to student housing, and Civic Light Opera
(CLO) has purchased a modern industrial building in Springdale it plans to use for set construction and storage.
PBT's new building is at 3501 Liberty Ave., about a half mile from PBT's Strip District studios. The building was purchased for under $300,000, and will receive about $600,000 worth of renovations, says Harris Ferris, PBT's executive director. Future dormitory is part of a $1.5 million project to increase the school's capacity and its ability to complete internationally for the most talented students.
The project will integrate, for the first time, a sustainable housing component to the PBT School. Currently, out-of-town PBT students stay with host families throughout the city. Of the 34 high school students enrolled in PBT's fulltime program, 15 are currently housed with host families.
PBT's new property was the former rectory for St. John the Baptist Church, which is now the Church Brew Works restaurant. The three-story, 7,000-square-foot building will be renovated to create housing for as many as 16 high-school-aged students, plus a full-time resident advisor. PBT hopes to complete renovations by June 2010.
PBT's other future development plans, according to Ferris, include making improvements to the facility at 2900 Liberty Ave., such as new studio floors, expanded parking, exterior landscaping and even a conditioning area for Pittsburghers looking to use dance as a method of core training.
The PBT building acquisition is funded by a $750,000 allocation from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, which was matched by contributions from Allegheny Regional Asset District, the Byham Charitable Foundation, the Adams Foundation, the Wagner Family Charitable Trust and anonymous funders.
CLO's new property is a 68,000-square-foot building at 997 Sherosky Way in Springdale that it purchased for $1.1 million. The property, which was formerly home to Fortco Plastics, will house CLO's Construction Center. Occupancy is expected by the end of March 2010.
CLO has bee, leasing a space for about a dozen years at 403 Bingham St. on the South Side for set construction and storage. It maintains its administrative offices Downtown in the Benedum Center, where it also puts on most of its performances.
"The decision to own rather than lease gives us that much more security as we move forward," says Jim Mercer, general manager of CLO. "We don't see it as growth, though, because its impact on the budget will be neutral. It's not going to cost us any more on an annual basis to own rather than lease."
Tom McCaffrey, SIOR, an industrial broker with Grant Street Associates, represented CLO in the transaction. Gene Galiardi and Scott Long of Pennsylvania Commercial Real Estate represented the building's owner.
Writer: Caralyn Green
Sources: Harris Ferris, PBT; Jim Mercer, CLO; Tom McCaffrey, Grant Street Associates
Photograph of Mame production courtesy of CLO