Demolition to begin at Station Square’s east warehouse

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Last call has arrived for Station Square’s east warehouse.

By Monday, it will be heavy equipment, not pulsating dance music, rattling the rafters at the longtime night spot that at one time or another housed the likes of Whim, Hooters, Saddle Ridge, Matrix, the Pittsburgh Sports Garden, Woodson’s All-Star Grille and Margarita Mamas.

Station Square owner Forest City Enterprise is demolishing the old red brick building as part of a plan to eventually add residential housing to the east side of its complex, now used almost exclusively for parking.

The Whim night club tried to block the demolition this spring, claiming the developer improperly terminated its lease. But Allegheny County Common Pleas Senior Judge Joseph James sided with Forest City, clearing the way for the razing.

Forest City had hoped to have the demolition completed by Sept. 1. But spokesman Jeff Linton said the company ran into delays. By the time the court battle with Whim ended, the bids for the razing had expired and Forest City was forced to get new ones. It also had to find a way to run temporary electrical hook-ups to the area.

“These are just normal delays due to issues beyond our control,” he said.

The demolition is now scheduled to start Monday, although Tim Schaaf, president of Schaaf Inc., the contractor, said work could begin this weekend.

He expects the razing to take four to six weeks., though Mr. Linton said it could run until mid-November. The east warehouse will not go out with a blast like Three Rivers Stadium. Instead, Schaaf will use heavy equipment such as excavators to tear down the building.

Mr. Schaaf, who was at the site Thursday, said there is nothing particularly challenging about the job. “It’s standard,” he said, adding all asbestos and hazardous material had been removed in years past.

Schaaf is no stranger to the work. It has handled a number of demolitions in the past, including Showcase Cinemas West in Robinson, now the site of a car dealership.

As part of its contract with Forest City, Schaaf won the salvaging rights to anything inside the warehouse. There were bar tables and stools stacked up outside the fenced-off building Thursday, but Mr. Schaaf said most of what was left inside was “junk.”

“I’m not salvaging anything for myself,” he said.

The demolition will clear the way for Forest City to add 316 parking spaces to the east side lot. That would complement about 1,130 existing slots.

Forest City needs the new spaces as part of a longer term goal to build either apartments or condominiums on the property. In deciding not to sell Station Square last year, Forest City said it was looking for a partner to develop a “meaningful” number of units.

It has been considering a residential development on that side of Station Square since at least 2006, when it proposed building up to 1,200 condos as part of its unsuccessful bid for the Pittsburgh casino license.

The east warehouse was part of the former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie railroad complex that the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation turned into Station Square.

Arthur Ziegler, PHLF president, said the foundation has no objections to the demolition. The building, he said, is “not architecturally significant” and has changed greatly over the years with the addition of offices, restaurants and bars.

“It’s far from the original,” he said.

Mark Belko: or 412-263-1262.

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