Image courtesy of Q Development.

The trapezoidal, red-brick warehouse along Allegheny West’s once-industrial edge (West North Ave.) is a Pittsburgh celebrity, appearing in film and TV productions, such as “Mindhunter,” “American Rust” and Netflix’s upcoming “Rustin.”

But it’s been underutilized for a long time, something even its tenant since the 1960s, Harry Guckert Co. (an industrial printer supplier), realized.

“They were only using about 25% of the building,” says Rick Belloli of North Side-based Q Development. “We bought it from them and leased it back to them so they could figure out where they were going to go. They moved up the street about a year ago.”

Recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, the building is now being transformed into 38 loft apartments. Construction will start this summer with expected completion in late 2023.

The building’s interior is as unique as the exterior, with unusual post and beam construction and a tin ceiling on the second floor, in what was once a showroom for International Harvester.

The old, industrial elevator shaft will be reimagined as a lobby. A skylight will be installed on the roof with translucent glass flooring on each level of the former elevator shaft to make sure light reaches the ground floor.

A former freight elevator shaft will become an elevator lobby with translucent glass between floors. Rendering courtesy of Q Development.

Before Guckert took over, the building was a depot for International Harvester, a tractor company that also made trucks and other vehicles. The building was built in three phases starting in 1905, with an addition in 1912 and a fourth floor added in 1913.

“We may find an International Harvester pickup truck to put in the lobby,” says Belloli. “We’re keeping our eyes open for those.”

Q Development specializes in redeveloping vacant or underutilized historic properties. It is developing the Garden Theater block just a short walk down the street and has completed projects such as the 103-year-old Homestead Masonic Hall Lofts and the Bayard School Lofts in Lawrenceville.

“We’re not just in it for a financial return,” Belloli says. “That allows us to keep going, but we want to make sure every project we do has some kind of return for the community. We sometimes do affordable housing and a lot of historic preservation. We follow the community plans, and we are following almost to the letter the Allegheny West Civic Council’s master plan for this area from 2007 … in creating a warehouse loft district.”

Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel are the architects for the project.

Interior unit with tin ceiling on the second floor in the former International Harvester building. Rendering courtesy of Q Development.

Units will range from studios starting at $1,000 per month to one-bedroom units ranging from $1,300 to $1,900 per month. Two-bedroom units will range from $2,300 to $2,500 a month.

“We have designed these (apartments) to reflect this new work-from-home world,” says Belloli. “A lot of spaces have been designed to accommodate a den or workstation so that you’re not always working from your kitchen table.”

Right behind the Allegheny Branch House Lofts is an active rail line, which poses some challenges for the project.

“We’ve hired an acoustic engineer,” says Belloli. “So they’ve monitored the rail traffic and decibel levels, and we’ve done some extra window glazing and made sure bedrooms are isolated from track noise.”

The street has already seen several historic buildings converted into new uses, such as the 1895 Stables Lofts.

Michael Machosky

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.