Rendering courtesy of Go Realty.

On Wednesday afternoon on the North Side, a delegation of Pittsburgh’s Mounted Police Patrol gathered with local political and community leaders to usher in a new era for one of the city’s oldest historic buildings.

The Allegheny City stables, built in 1895 to house municipal horses and carriages and declared a city historic structure in 2007, is about to become the anchor for a $7.5 million apartment complex called Allegheny City Stables Lofts.

“It’s a positive development for our neighborhood that we are preserving our history while building brand new residences,” said John DeSantis, president of the Allegheny West Civic Council, a nonprofit devoted to the neighborhood’s historic preservation and development, in an announcement about the project. “It’s a vibrant urban mix of old and new that really captures the essence of Allegheny West in 2019.”

The 18,000-square-foot stable located at 836 W. North Avenue is the last surviving civic structure built by the government of Allegheny City, which extended from Allegheny West over to Troy Hill before being annexed by the City of Pittsburgh in 1907.

Undated photo of the stables courtesy of the Department of Public Works.

With Allegheny Commons, Allegheny West, The Mexican War Streets, Deutschtown and Manchester all within a few blocks of one another, the North Side of Pittsburgh contains more historic districts than any other portion of the city.

Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh, Mark Fatla, executive director of the Northside Leadership Conference, explained that local stakeholders have embraced historic preservation as a means to spur economic development.

“It gives folks something you can’t get anywhere else,” he said. “It’s those historic, walkable neighborhoods that offer a different way of living that’s become more and more attractive to folks.”

In addition, the legal protections afforded by historic status create an environment where small and medium-sized businesses feel safe investing.

“Historic districts ensure a certain measure of stability,” Fatla explained. “You’re not going to have wholesale demolitions without good reason.”

The stables development, he says, is “a good illustration of what’s going on on a much broader scale.”

The new apartment complex, slated to open in summer of 2020, will encompass the renovated stable building as well as 32,000 square feet of surrounding, non-historic real estate. The development will include 36 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units renting at rates between $1,500 and $1,900 per month.

Communal amenities will include a fitness center, lounge and laundry room, 29 indoor parking spaces “and a lobby that tells the story and pays tribute to the history of the neighborhood,” according to a media release.

The Leetsdale-based Jaimeson Ellis Architects Inc. will design the building, with Fairchance Construction of Fayette County serving as the contractor.

Along with our city’s finest equine officers, Mayor William Peduto and DeSantis attended the launch event hosted by Andrew Reichert, the owner of Go Realty, the developer of the project.

“This project is exciting because it’s a catalyst for activating a full city block. It’s also personal for me, as our offices are right next door and I live just blocks away,” Reichert said in advance of the event. “I’m honored to have an opportunity to develop in the Northside where I live and work.”

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.