Developers tour the former Duquesne Brewery on the South Side on Thursday.
By Diana Nelson Jones Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Brew House Association, an artist-driven nonprofit that owns the former Duquesne Brewery on the South Side, has taken on a consultant to solicit developers' interest in the building.
The association and consultant Rick Belloli, principal of Civic Square LLC, issued a request for qualifications last week. Mr. Belloli led a recent tour for 12 people representing eight firms interested in redeveloping the late 19th century structure, which is really three adjoined buildings, the tallest being eight stories.
Mr. Belloli said the board was pleased by the number of hefty developers who are interested. He said they came from Pittsburgh, Wheeling, State College and Ohio.
The Brew House Association, which was established in 1990, wants a developer as a partner so that the 104,000-square-foot building at 2100 Mary St. can continue to house its studio and exhibition space. As part of a larger redevelopment, arts-related and commercial entities and housing would be welcome, Mr. Belloli said.
"Part of this outreach is to put the building forward as an asset," said Tim Kaulen, a sculptor and president of the board.
Duquesne Brewery established the site in 1899 and brewed beer there until 1972, when it had 425 employees. In 1940, it was the largest brewery in Pennsylvania and the eighth-largest in the country, brewing 690,000 barrels a year.
The building is not a city-designated historic property or on the National Register of Historic Places. If it were, it would save the developer 20 percent in tax credits. It still may be eligible because it is close to the East Carson Street historic district and has contributive history and architecture, Mr. Belloli said.
"We're trying to reach out to developers who have experience with tax credits," whether historic, new market or housing, he said. "Historic eligibility is something we anticipate working with the developer on, because that 20 percent credit would be a significant savings.
"The artists recognized that this is a big bite. They've maintained the building for 20 years trying to keep the balance. They know they are not real estate developers but they want to guide the project."
In 2008, the Design Center helped the Brew House Association's board build a master plan. It is the template for redevelopment, which Mr. Belloli said likely is a $20 million to $25 million project. "It wouldn't surprise me if some people might want to do a development partnership."
The Brew House Association had leased the building from the city for about a decade before purchasing it in 2001. The city cited it for building code violations in 2009 and briefly had the artists working there vacate.
Contributions from foundations and individuals have supported upwards of $1 million in upgrades, and Mr. Belloli said the building has been stabilized.
Mr. Kaulen said the city's action in 2009 was "a wake-up call" and that the nonprofit is working to bring the entire building up to code. Artists are working in the parts that are, he said. The Brew House currently provides 25 work spaces.
When redeveloped, it will have even more potential to incubate art businesses than it has in the past, Mr. Kaulen said.
"The brew house has a really important role in the community, supporting artists and emerging artists and small creative businesses," he said. "It's been a big part of our mission for the past 20 years. This is an exciting opportunity for us to build on all the work and combined efforts of the endowment and foundation community and all the artists who have put a lot of effort into this. We recognize we can't do it alone."