Courtesy of Paul Lawrence.

After several years of planning and patient restoration, Peter Lawrence clothing store will open Downtown tomorrow with an opening celebration just in time for Light Up Night.

Located at 413 Wood Street in a restored, mid-century space that once held the J.R. Weldin Co. stationery and gift store, the 3,748-square-foot store will specialize in high-end women’s fashion.

The store is another project of Chas Schaldenbrand, who currently owns and operated the men’s clothing store Heinz Healey’s on Fifth Avenue. It is named for his son, Peter Lawrence.

The new store is located next to Boutique La Passarelle, one of the few options for women’s clothing Downtown, with the expectation that the two locations together will now draw more women shoppers. “It will definitely complement our offerings,” says Boutique La Passarelle owner, Adele Morrelli, who has had the shop on Wood St. for eight years. “They have a different style and price point.”

Over the last several decades, Downtown Pittsburgh has lost many of the iconic shopping centers and department stores that once anchored the local economy. In response, economic development groups like the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership have spearheaded a variety of support programs and local partnerships to bring retail, and associated economic activity, back to Downtown Pittsburgh.

As with Heinz Healey’s, Schaldenbrand owns the building but partnered with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation on the restoration of the space. Additional support came from the URA and The Laurel Foundation to update the facade.

While much had to change, the restoration team was able to preserve the building’s original elevator and outer paneling.

General Manager Katelyn Modolo says the entire process, from their first meeting with foundation partners until today, took well over two years due to the complex nature of the construction and the permit process relating to historical sites.

Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh on the eve of the store’s opening, she said the long gestation period ended up being a great way to build anticipation for the store. “The participation and excitement from so many different people have been wonderful,” Modolo says.

In addition to keeping history alive, the store also strikes a blow for gender parity in the world of elegant, Downtown retail. While the nearby section of Fifth Avenue has several stores selling designer clothing for men, similar options for women have been rare.

Modolo says their new shop “will not be specializing in one thing.” Rather, women will be able to find everything from outerwear to professional attire, and the selection of designers will always be updated. Brands available as of the launch include the Jofit athleisure line, Samuel Dong and Ciao Milano.

In addition, the mezzanine level of the store will be selling clothing from St. Brendan’s Crossing, a long-time Pittsburgh retailer specializing in Irish clothing.

Bill O'Toole

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