A historic Downtown building that at one time manufactured the leather belts that helped to drive Pittsburgh's steel industry could be next in line to go residential.
Architect Tony Poli briefed city planning commission members Tuesday on a proposal to convert the two top floors of the seven-story Hartley-Rose Building at 425 First Ave. into luxury condominiums, with more floors to follow in the future.
Owner David O'Loughlin said he is hoping to capitalize on the surge in demand for housing Downtown, where a number of buildings have been converted into apartments or condominiums.
"The market is what dictates what happens to the building. Market demand for the development of housing Downtown is significant. It's a very wonderful evolution that's occurring. People want to live Downtown," he said.
Built in 1907, the white brick and terra cotta building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is now utilized by doctors, lawyers and other professionals.
But it is best known as the former factory and warehouse of the Hartley-Rose Belting Co., which existed from 1932 to the 1960s. The firm manufactured the continuous leather belt, a steel industry staple used to convert the raw power produced by stationary steam engines into usable form, according to the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.
Hartley-Rose supplied Carnegie Steel, the forerunner of U.S. Steel, and the Jones and Laughlin Co., whose headquarters was located just two blocks from the factory and warehouse, the foundation said.
The building was designed by Benno Janssen and W.Y. Cocken.
Mr. O'Loughlin said the condos will be "$1 million plus units" with 3,000 square feet of space, lots of light and views of the Monongahela River. "Everything will be first class," he said.
He hopes to get started on the seventh floor condo, which will feature a rooftop deck, by January and have it completed by early summer. Mr. O'Loughlin estimated the conversion cost at $300 to $400 a square foot.
Also Tuesday, the planning commission approved a 1,180-square-foot addition to the cafe and construction of an outdoor patio at the Giant Eagle Market District in Shadyside. The cafe will expand from 30 seats to 100 and 25 to 30 will be added outside. With the expansion, the Giant Eagle will introduce beer sales at the location.
Mark Belko: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1262.