Beechview Atlas Development
Image courtesy Front Studio Architects.

Atlas Development Co. is in exclusive negotiations with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to purchase three properties on Broadway Avenue in Beechview.  The plan calls for an anchor corner building at 1600 Broadway to be rehabilitated with an ‘L’ shaped addition. Two older buildings at 1601 and 1609 Broadway would also be brought back to their former glory.

“When I was a kid of about nine or ten years old we lived next to Beechview and I would go there,” says Arthur Lubetz, of Front Studio Architects which is providing architectural services. “I was struck by the fact that it is not as active and vital as it once was. This development will visually activate the street and Beechview. We will be restoring the existing buildings and our new building is going to be brightly colored in three different shades of blue.”

The development calls for an Italian restaurant, an optimally 24-7 diner, a speakeasy basement jazz club, podcasting studio, a short- and long-term stay boutique hotel, as well as residential units and offices.

“I am doing back flips about this potential development on Broadway,” says City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak. “I am really excited. Atlas has done an amazing job going to coffeehouses, community meetings, and canvassing the neighborhood. They are high above the bar on what is expected from developers.”

This type of development and outreach is a welcome change for Beechview, after developer Bernardo Katz left the country owing the URA a huge sum of money that tied up many of the commercial properties on Broadway for years. “We are really eager not to repeat the mistakes of the past,” says Rudiak.

“It’s perfect for what we do at Front Studio,” says Ben Samson, general partner at Atlas along with Daniel Berkowitz and designer at the firm, “We examine the built environment and create context-specific projects.”

1600 Broadway
According to plans, the anchor building will contain an 1,800-square-foot diner with the 12,000-square-foot boutique hotel above and a 1,500-square-foot speakeasy jazz club in the basement. “Beechview has an incredible jazz scene and we are going to highlight that,” says Samson.

“The building itself will be very sculptural, carved by the terraces of the existing building,” says Lubetz of the proposed addition to 1600 Broadway. “We’re hoping these colors and sculptural qualities will serve as a sign things are changing. We are excited to be one of the first to activate the place.”

1601 Broadway
The turreted building will house the 2,200-square-foot Italian restaurant from a popular local pasta maker and residential units above. Plan are to “meticulously restore” the historic building, says Lubetz.

1619 Broadway
Three commercial spaces are rented and the building will have a 900-square-foot podcasting studio that will be visible from the street. Sorgatron Media, a creative firm that does podcasting and video production will be one of the anchor tenants. The owners already live in Beechview and are excited to walk to work.

During the exclusive negotiation period with the URA, Atlas is finalizing the plans for the development, obtaining necessary city approvals, and putting together a comprehensive financing package. If all goes well during the exclusive negotiation period Atlas plans to break ground this fall with the project to be completed in spring 2017.

 “We have been rooting ourselves in Beechview,” says Samson. “We want to make sure we know the community.”

Maya Haptas has an M.A. in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University and is a freelance writer covering various topics from architecture and urban design to wellness and skateboarding. She is currently the assistant editor of Bigfoot Skateboarding Magazine.