Securing a historic property designation could help the former Duquesne Brewing Co. headquarters maintain itself as a viable artists’ residence in the South Side, officials said.
“It’s a historic renovation of a really dynamic building with a creative reuse plan,” said Tim Kaulen, president of the nonprofit Brew House Association, which has operated the original brewery on Mary Street as the Brew House since 1991 to support artists with studio, living and exhibition space.
Founded in 1899, the Duquesne Brewing Co. ceased operations in its South Side complex in 1972.
Now, the Brew House Association is partnering with the Downtown-based Trek Development Group on 76 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments to develop live-work spaces. The building, which would have subsidized and market-rate units, would have a large gallery, community work space and educational space, Kaulen said.
The association owns the Brew House, but the Trek partnership will set up a new ownership team, he said.
Initially, Trek planned to nominate only the Brew House for a historic designation to qualify for tax credits to help fund the renovation, but the State Historic Preservation Office recommended the entire complex, consisting of seven buildings, with several owners being nominated together, said Angelique Bamberg of East Liberty-based Clio Consulting, the historic preservation consultant to the project.
The historic district would be roughly bounded by South 21st Street, South 23rd Street, Jane Street, Harcum Way and Edwards Way.
“It’s being nominated for its significance to the brewing history of Pittsburgh, essentially for being a brewery that was continually very innovative, and pioneering new ideas in production, distribution and marketing of its product,” Bamberg said.
In 1900, Duquesne Brewing became the first brewery to use an electric delivery truck in Pittsburgh, according to the 2009 book “American Breweries of the Past” by David G. Moyer.
It was the first brewery in Pittsburgh to use refrigerated railroad cars to transport kegged beer and one of the first on the East Coast to pasteurize its product, according to the book.
The Historic Preservation Board will hold a public meeting Feb. 3 on the nomination. If the board supports the proposal, it would forward the nomination to the National Park Service, which oversees the National Register of Historic Places.
Trek expects a decision by March, and the 16-month renovation project would start in May, said John Ginocchi, director of development.
The Brew House has about 15 live-work spaces now, with about half of the building being used, Kaulen said.
Residential tenants are being relocated, Ginocchi said, and the building will be empty by May. The renovation will enable all of the building to be used, Kaulen said.
“It will have greater revenue potential that will obviously go back to the investment that’s coming to the project for renovations,” Kaulen said.
For the project to receive historic tax credits, the exterior of the building has to be restored to as close to its original state as possible, said Rick Sabeh, a partner at South Side-based architectural firm Lab 8 Designs Inc., which is working with Raleigh, N.C.-based Clearscapes to design the Brew House project.
“We’re trying to maintain as much of the existing finishes in terms of floors, exposed beams, brick walls,” Sabeh said.
New plumbing, electricity and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems will be installed, Ginocchi said.
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority has awarded the project $1.3 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which will yield about $13 million in equity, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh.
Affordable units will range from $650 to $850 and market-rate units will start at $900, Ginocchi said.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or [email protected].