Photo by TH Carlisle.

Opening a business is tough, especially in places like Lawrenceville where rents are high and space is limited.

Brian and Irwin Mendelssohn, principals of Botero Development, have a plan to help local entrepreneurs thrive in the neighborhood.

The brothers are looking to transform the 53-year-old, former bank building at 4112 Butler St. into Lawrenceville Market Place, a retail hub that uses a coworking model. The plans are going through the zoning process now and the Mendelssohns hope to be up and running by mid-2021.

The space will be divided into nine business stations of varying sizes, including one located in the bank vault. Companies can rent a station on a month-to-month basis and customize their section, which will have its own lockable storefront.

A coffee and donut shop, run by the Mendelssohns, will be a permanent fixture and feature outdoor seating. A family-friendly restaurant and bar, planned for the lower level, will offer an array of menu items at accessible price points.

Irwin Mendelssohn says he’s seen similar concepts popping up in other cities, but none of them use eateries as an anchor.

Lawrenceville Market Place isn’t the family’s first innovative idea. Their latest project, Fulton Commons in Manchester, is a kitchen incubator, artist studio and co-working space located in the old Saint Joseph School. It is expected to open in the next few weeks.

Brian Mendelssohn also is founder of Row House Cinema and Bierport, located across the street from the proposed market place.

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.