Section of Strip District designated National Historic District

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Several blocks in the heart of the city's Strip District have become part of the National Historic Registry, a distinction that will make building owners in the merchant-rich neighborhood eligible for special tax credits to do renovations in line with the district's historic character.

Mayor Bill Peduto and other officials announced the development Thursday in front of the St. Stanislaus Kotka Parish, the church with the grand belltowers that overlook Smallman Street. The Pittsburgh Historic Landmarks Foundation applied to the National Park Service for the national historic designation last fall.

The district comprises the heart of the Strip District, including Smallman Street, Penn Avenue and Liberty Avenue from 15th Street to 22nd Street. It makes about 64 property owners eligible for tax credits. It's the 18th National Historic District in the city.

Arthur Ziegler, president of the foundation, said he wants to maintain the character of Smallman Street.

"The street itself is so important ... no block is like this block," he said. "We want to see [it] remain gritty, not a suburban boulevard."

Paul Svoboda, manager of special projects for the Urban Redevelopment Authority, said at a news conference Thursday in front of the church that the designation does not place any restrictions on property owners within the district, but rather offers incentives to promote its historic character.

"It doesn't bring a stick so much as it brings a carrot ... millions and million of dollars in carrots," he said.

The designation would provide potential federal income tax credits of up to 20 percent for improvements that could include heating, ventilation, air conditioning and roof repairs. The renovations would have to abide by Department of Interior guidelines.

The mayor said he hoped the designation could spell additional resources to preserve the historic produce terminal, which was once slated for partial demolition.

"The building ... is a gem. It's part of Pittsburgh history and it should be part of Pittsburgh's future," he said.

Moriah Balingit:, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee.

Moriah Balingit:, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published May 29, 2014 3:36 PM

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