City asked to approve bookstore, cafe, cultural center on North Side
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City of Asylum Pittsburgh's plan to restore and link two blighted properties in the Central North Side went before the Zoning Board of Adjustment yesterday.
The organization, which provides homes and care for writers in exile, wants to create a cultural destination at three properties anchored by 1406 Monterey St.
Henry Reese, co-founder of the City of Asylum Pittsburgh, said the nearly 4,000 square feet would comprise a bookstore, a cafe, a public gathering space for readings, performances and other events, and apartments on the upper floors.
The parcel between the buildings is now a lot that would become a glassed-in courtyard.
Nine residents from the neighborhood turned out to show their support of the plan, including two who live across the street. One of the properties in the plan is a former nuisance bar.
"I saw first-hand the problems that preceded Mr. Reese's efforts," said Robert Havrilla, a resident of more than 10 years. Parking, which figures in three of the five petitions for zoning exceptions, is not an issue, he said. "When the Mattress Factory has events are the only times I ever see all the streets filled."
Attorney Joel Aaronson said his client is "asking for relief from off-street parking requirements" because a study showed that within a 650-foot radius of the site, more than 200 parking spaces are empty. The study, conducted by Trans Associates, an engineering firm, included checks at various times of day, evenings and weekends, he said.
"We have wanted to have other cultural entities [nearby] to create a synergy among them," said Barbara Luderowski, co-director of the Mattress Factory. "I couldn't be more thrilled."
The Zoning Board of Adjustment will vote on the plan at a later date.
To read more, visit http://community.post-gazette.com/blogs/citywalkabout.
Correction/Clarification: (Published May 30, 2009) A headline accompanying this story as originally published May 29, 2009 incorrectly reported the purpose of City of Asylum's Monterey Street project. The purpose is a cafe, bookstore and cultural center.
First Published May 29, 2009 12:00 am