Pittsburgh City Council this morning held a hearing on the possible historic designation of the old Iron City Brewery facility in Lawrenceville. The company and all speakers were in favor of the designation and City Planning Department Historic Preservation Planner Katherine Molnar says all the letters her office has received have been in favor of the designation. The designation means any future development at the site must preserve the historic nature of the shell of the buildings and the historic review commission must approve all work. Often a building owner fights the designation but in this instance Iron City Brewing President Tim Hickman says he has been behind the idea from the beginning. Hickman says, “This is part of the history of Pittsburgh. The buildings that are being designated historic have a lot of reuses, have a lot of value… You can’t build buildings like that in today’s environment.” He says they do not see the designation as an impediment to the site development. The site holds more than 20 buildings that have been built over the years by various owners since Frauenheim, Miller and Company built the first building in1867. One building has already been torn down and the company would like to remove two more “tank buildings.” The buildings were built to house steel tanks and now that the tanks are removed the structures have no floors and no roofs. Hickman says every developer who has come though the site says the buildings need to be razed.
A final reuse has not yet been designated. The Lawrenceville Community Development Corporation has received a grant to help pay for a master plan to be drawn up for the site. Iron City has added money to the effort and Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd says they are looking for more funding. Dowd’s district includes Lawrenceville. He says he would also like to see transportation and market studies done before the project moves forward. Dowd calls the old brewery, “Extremely attractive.” “Just thinking about it from a site standpoint it is the most important next generation development site in the city of Pittsburgh. There is just a tremendous amount of potential and energy possible at that site,” says Dowd. The councilman says he would like to see a mixed-use development including residential, light industrial and commercial use. IC will keep its corporate offices at the site.