A new plAce in East Liberty

Stylish hotel opens its doors in changing neighborhood

Ace Hotel Pittsburgh has officially opened in East Liberty, and a week of grand-opening festivities kicks off that includes a screening of a documentary by a local filmmaker and an exhibit of neighborhood photos by Charles “Teenie” Harris.

The hotel is a stylish reinforcement of the city’s booming development, lively arts community and intriguing dining scene. It includes a tavern-style dining spot, Whitfield, from culinary partner Brent Young, a Pittsburgh native and New York restaurateur.

Housed in a 1900s-era former YMCA, the boutique hotel at 120 S. Whitfield St. has 63 rooms that run between $200 to $300 a night in a neighborhood that not long ago was host to empty storefronts and several dollar stores.

It’s the latest hotel by Portland, Ore.-based Ace, which has similarly eclectic hotels in London; Los Angeles; New York; Panama City; Palm Springs, Calif.; Portland; and Seattle. As it has done in East Liberty, the company rehabs old buildings in emerging locations and links its hotels to local culture.

The Ace Hotel also is just around the corner from another boutique hotel that opened in September, the 135-room Hotel Indigo on North Highland Avenue, which has its own new restaurant, Wallace’s Tap Room.

Four of the suite rooms at the Ace Hotel have claw-foot tubs in the rooms.(Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette)

While Ace’s in-house designers have played up the Y’s original structure with details like the terrazzo floor, marble lobby staircase, ceiling molding and original wainscoting, the group has commissioned work from Pittsburgh artisans for other parts of the development.

Regent Square’s Glenn Greene, for example, has created the glass installation in the lobby using glass and other materials salvaged from the building in the construction. And Peter Lambert of Redstar Ironworks in Millvale created custom metal pieces for public spaces, such as the restaurant partition.

This past week, Whitfield has hosted friends-and-family dinners to iron out kinks and fine tune staff training. Mr. Young, the co-founder of The Meat Hook and Meat Hook Sandwich Shop in Brooklyn, chose executive chef Beth Zozula, former sous chef at Eleven in the Strip District, to run the Whitfield with a menu that shows off grass-fed locally sourced meat and brunch every day.

The lobby’s coffee bar, featuring Portland-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters, also has opened.

Ace Hotel Pittsburgh intends to serve as a neighborhood focal point, drawing residents and visitors with an ambitious agenda of arts and culture programming that will take place in the lobby, ballroom and gym.

In the ballroom on Tuesday, the hotel is hosting a screening of the documentary “Food Systems, Chapter 3: The Ecosystem,” from local filmmaker David Bernabo. The event is a fundraiser for The Glassblock, a forthcoming Web magazine from Mr. Bernabo and Adam Shuck. It’s followed by a panel discussion on Pittsburgh’s food systems with Ms. Zozula and others, followed by an optional prix-fixe three-course dinner at the restaurant.

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Next Saturday, in conjunction with the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland, the hotel presents “East Liberty in Focus,” a selection of neighborhood photos from Charles “Teenie” Harris, presented by the museum’s archive specialist Charlene Foggie-Barnett. The event also features East Liberty-based poet and playwright Tameka Cage Conley; historian and author of “Pittsburgh Jazz” (Arcadia 2007) John M. Brewer Jr.; local artist Herman Pearl, aka DJ Soy Sos; and musicians Idasa Tariq and Jacquea Mae.

On tap for the future, Ace has committed to hosting events for the VIA Festival, Pittsburgh’s lesbian and gay film festival ReelQ, monthly roller disco party Down & Derby, and Bike Pittsburgh events.

Another event space is the gym, a single floor, 300 capacity venue with two additional track levels above, complete with a restored mural painted on the walls. It will open in January as a spot for performances and installations as well as a destination to watch the Pirates or attend an art screening. There’s an area for games like cornhole and shuffleboard. The space also features a large communal table from Zak Kruszynski of Pittsburgh’s Bones and All. It will have its own menu and a portable bar that adds to the flexibility of the venue.

Expect hotel room amenities such as 24-hour room service, turntables in select rooms, custom wool blankets from Pendleton and curated on-demand videos. Brooklyn-based firm, Uhuru also designed built-ins such as consoles, trunks, mirrors and shelves. Mr. Kruszynski was hired for pieces using Pennsylvania wood when it was available, to build room accents such as seating.

Plans for the Ace Hotel project that tallies in at more than $20 million came together nearly four years ago, when Pittsburgh developer Matthew Ciccone, Nate Cunningham and Claire Hosteny of East End Development Partners, Tom Bost of Bost Development, and nonprofit East Liberty Development Inc., pitched the location.

The project is owned by Y Hotel LP, a partnership that includes Atelier Ace and East End Development Partners, the managing partner.

Melissa McCart: 412-263-1198 or on Twitter@melissamccart

Martin & Co. makes special guitars for the rooms at The Ace Hotel where some of the rooms also include a turn-table and a selection of records curated by local record enthusiasts.(Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette)


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