Easy parking, affordable leases, artful renovation characterize first multi-million development to anchor business district revitalization

(PITTSBURGH, PA)   Aug. 13        The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) announced today that they will relocate their headquarters to the historic Lohr Building, becoming the first official tenant to occupy the newly renovated, 130+ year-old structure. The symbolic move coincides with the WCDC’s 10-year anniversary, which it will celebrate by readying two significant multi-million projects to completion, including the revival of the Wilkinsburg Train Station. Together, both the Lohr and the train station — which were vacant for a combined 50 years — represent a $9 million investment that will bring over 20,000 square feet of office or commercial space to the market.

“We’ve worked tirelessly to initiate these strategic, historic renovation projects that will spur private investments by providing anchor commercial properties that connect new tenants with existing and new Wilkinsburg business owners,” said Tracey Evans, WCDC’s executive director. “With the Lohr Building’s pending opening, we feel as if we’re cutting the ribbon on Wilkinsburg’s modern-day renaissance.”

Since the WCDC’s inception in 2010, over $100 million in public and private investment has occurred in the mile-long business district. In 2018, there were seven commercial property sales, compared to 2015, when there was just one. Private developers are taking note, too: a young group of developers recently purchased a group of buildings along Wood Street that include 10 storefronts and received the first variance for a green rooftop. Announcements relative to new businesses are expected soon.

The signature arched windows of the three-story Lohr Building have overlooked the intersection of Wood Street and South Avenue since the horse-and-buggy days, long reflecting the changing face of Wilkinsburg. At various stages of its life, it has served as the home of Wilkinsburg’s first tailor, its first local newspaper, and the first home of the Second United Methodist Church. Many residents remember it as the storefront of the Singer Sewing Machine Co. during the 1950s. Now, thanks to the extensive, $2.5-million renovation, the Lohr is ready for its next incarnation as a premier location for mixed-use businesses. In addition to the WCDC, the building is already home to local favorite Nancy’s Revival diner.

Located within less than three miles from the fully leased Bakery Square and within walking distance to the Wilkinsburg Train Station and Regent Square neighborhoods, the Lohr Building will provide future tenants with distinctive office space featuring 11 to13-foot high ceilings, arched windows that offer abundant natural light, ample parking, and rents that are roughly one-third of East Liberty’s. 

“We loved the building’s rich history, its classic design and its prominent location,” said Evans. “Being located at a highly visible, pedestrian-friendly corner in the heart of Wilkinsburg’s business district is ideal for the WCDC. The Lohr Building project is a symbol of this community’s rebirth. We’re proud to play a role in restoring this once stately-building to its original luster for current and future generations to enjoy.”

The WCDC will begin moving from their Penn Avenue location this September, with the building’s full restoration expected to be complete in November 2019. Their former location was recently purchased by Wilkinsburg Mayor Marita Garrett’s nonprofit. The WCDC’s new 2,660-square-foot office will be located on the first floor alongside Nancy’s Revival, which is currently located on the South Avenue storefront location. 

Still available for lease are the 2,350-square-foot, one-story storefront facing South Avenue and the 2nd and 3rd floor flexible, mixed-use commercial space totaling more than 6,000 square feet. 

The renovation has been spearheaded by the WCDC and made possible in part thanks to a generous $1 million contribution from The Richard King Mellon Foundation and a $10,000 grant from the WCDC’s Facade Renovation Program.

To read more about the Lohr Building and its history – CLICK HERE.