A plan to convert a former Catholic school on Mt. Washington into a 34-unit loft apartment building is moving forward.
Mindful Grandview LLC, run by Dustin Jones and Jeffrey Sorbara, the owners of Mindful Brewing in Castle Shannon, will seek final approval for their project from the Pittsburgh Planning Commission on Tuesday, January 26.
In 2018, Mindful Grandview purchased the former Bishop Leonard-St. Mary of the Mount Academy building at 115 Bigham St. and Sullivan Hall — an adjoining church social property at 133 Bigham St. — for $1.2 million, according to the Allegheny County real estate website.
Jones anticipates receiving approval from city planners and says renovation of the school building could begin this spring.
“We’re very excited,” Jones says. “The view is amazing. We don’t have any plans for the other building yet, with everything that’s going on with COVID. We don’t have any idea what’s going to happen with the restaurant industry, but we’ll see what the [Biden] administration does. We’re trying to be optimistic.”
The four-story building would become Grandview Lofts, with studio, one- and two-bedroom units for rent. They’ll be priced at market rate, Jones says, though they haven’t set the price yet.
The school building has been vacant since it closed in 2012 and an earlier plan to convert the building to condominiums did not happen. The church itself is located two blocks away on Grandview Avenue.
Mindful Grandview is working on the project with Gregory Newman and Michael Bliss of Way architecture + design partners and Sean Naylor, a civil engineer with Red Swing Group in Monroeville. They first briefed the Planning Commission about the project on January 12.
The building’s ground-level gymnasium would be transformed into an entryway and lobby, business and fitness centers, a property manager’s office, tenant and bike storage, mechanical areas, and an ADA tenant apartment.
The three floors of classrooms above would become apartments, with lounge space and laundry rooms. A new rooftop deck would provide residents with 360-degree views of Downtown, the Monongahela River, the North Side, and Mt. Washington. To ensure that the guardrails don’t interrupt the views, they’ll be fitted with glass panels.
“Most of the exterior scope is restorative in nature, with cleaning of existing brick and stone trim,” the developers note in their presentation for final approval. “New alterations are limited to the new entry vestibule on the east side of the building, within [a] screened parking lot, and the new roof deck structures, which enclose fire stair extensions and [an] elevator for accessibility to the new roof deck itself.”
Mindful Grandview and Way architecture began a community outreach process last January and have since received approvals for the project from the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation, Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire and the Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment. The developers have promised to meet neighbors’ requirements that include sound abatement and landscaping.
In addition to their brewery in the former McGinnis Market on Library Road in Castle Shannon, Jones and Sorbara operate a Mindful Brewing Company satellite location in Scott Township.
They recently completed a smaller housing apartment in the 4700 block of Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield, where they converted 16 units into four larger apartments that quickly were rented. The building has retail space in the front, and they may open a tap room, coffee shop and bookstore there when the economy improves.