Pittsburgh to cite Collier Development over Iron City brewery demolitions

The city of Pittsburgh plans to cite Collier Development Co. for demolishing portions of the former Iron City Brewing Co. without approval from the city's Historic Review Commission and without a permit, the acting chief of the Bureau of Building Inspection said today.

The historic Lawrenceville site is protected from unauthorized demolition by its city historic status, which the city conferred in 2010. Members of the Lawrenceville Stakeholders Historic Preservation Committee spotted the demolitions earlier this week and alerted the city.

Furthermore, Matthew Galluzzo, executive director of the Lawrenceville Corp., said Collier Development in May entered into a memorandum of understanding with the neighborhood advocacy non-profit "that explicitly precluded them from doing any demolition or any significant interior alterations of any structure on site."

Because they all have historic protection, he said, "no building is more or less important than any other to the integrity of that site."

The Lawrenceville Stakeholders Historic Preservation Committee also has collected signatures on a letter that is in the mail to the review commission asking for fines, further historic review and a halt to demolition.

"Our demolition supervisor is going out tomorrow to look at the illegal demolitions," the acting inspection bureau chief, John Jennings, said today during a recess in the review commission's monthly meeting. "We will request an engineering report on the structural stability of the properties and the owner will be cited."

He said the amount of the fine will have to be determined by a magistrate.

A building or set of buildings that are designated as city historic landmarks may not be razed without application to the review commission and public hearings.

Collier Development, based in Presto, bought the property early this year.

Demolitions that the city intends to cite as illegal at the former brewery were unavoidable, said Tim Frew, Collier's project manager. "When something like this happens it has to be acted on quickly," he said. "We're the ones who hold insurance."

He said that after taking down the original ice house, or pipe shop, the roof started to fail on a structure that was attached to it. In that structure was a concrete tank.

"We secured the roof, but we had a lot problems with vandals and people trying to secure scrap," he said.

The roof later caved in as if someone or something had fall through it, he said.

"The plywood was rotted so we took roof off," he said. "Then the walls buckled."

He said they also took out a metal structure to keep vandals out.

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Diana Nelson Jones: djones@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1626. First Published August 1, 2012 3:45 PM


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