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City revives plans for $3M senior center in Beechview

| Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Pittsburgh City Council revived legislation on Monday that would bring a long-awaited $3 million senior center to Beechview.

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak introduced a bill earmarking $360,000 to buy a building at 1553 Broadway Ave. owned by Clements Okoye.

The money, along with equity from the building and $400,000 the city previously set aside, would allow the city to secure $1.5 million in matching funds from the state. The cost of buying and renovating the building is expected to total about $3 million.

“This has been a project that has been in the works for a long time,” Rudiak said. “It will be the first multimillion dollar investment in Beechview for as long as I can remember.”

Council in 2003 approved legislation for a lease with controversial developer Bernardo Katz, who owned numerous properties in the Beechview business district. Katz later left the country in default of mortgages with the Urban Redevelopment Authority and private lenders.

In 2008, the city attempted to buy the former St. Catherine's Church Elementary School and convert it to a senior center, but the deal was never finalized. St. Catherine's has since been demolished.

The city rents the basement of 1553 Broadway from Okoye for about $36,000 per year for senior programming.

“By buying this building, we will be able to renovate it and improve the services we provide daily to our seniors,” said Joanna Doven, spokeswoman for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

Rudiak said buying the 2½-story building could triple the amount of the space available to the city. She said a partnership with private parties could be explored to cut costs, floating the idea of a karate studio and ballet school.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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