Historical designation for Uptown building OK'd

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The Historic Review Commission recommended historical designation for the Paramount Pictures Film Exchange Building in Uptown yesterday, despite protests from an attorney representing the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The 1920s-era building, where local theater owners screened Paramount movies from the 1920s to 1970s, was a property in the portfolio UPMC bought when it acquired Mercy Hospital in 2006.

Attorney David Montgomery repeatedly interjected testimony, even after a motion had been made to approve historical status. Commission Chairman Michael Stern said no testimony would be taken. Public hearings were held in June and July.

Mr. Montgomery said UPMC's position is that historical designation would "reduce marketability and make the building less attractive" to a buyer.

Young Preservationists Association CEO Dan Holland said historical status usually adds luster to a property. He said he had talked to the New York-based developer William Gordon, who confirmed yesterday that his company "definitely has an interest in the building."

The historical recommendation next goes to the Planning Commission, then to City Council.

In other matters, the commission approved renovation plans for the McDonald's restaurant at Liberty Avenue and Stanwix Street, Downtown. It is within the Market Square historic district.

The commission also approved demolition of seven properties in Manchester.

Daphnie Milam lives next to one of the houses set to be demolished. One house has been "stripped of copper and used as a crack house," she said. The retaining wall beside her home "is shifting, and I have water damage because of the building collapsing beside mine."

Diana Nelson Jones can be reached at djones@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1626. Read her City Walkabout blog at post-gazette.com/localnews.


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