Realtor goes art deco in Mt. Lebanon
By Matthew Santoni
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:56 p.m.
A historic art deco building in the heart of Mt. Lebanon reopened this week as a showpiece for Howard Hanna real estate company after nearly a year of renovations.
The building formerly hosted about a dozen retail storefronts and professional offices at Washington Road and Alfred Street. Most have reopened elsewhere.
O'Hara-based Howard Hanna Real Estate Services this week moved its Mt. Lebanon office into 701 Washington Road, at 1920s-era structure it purchased in 2010 for $535,000, according to Allegheny County property records.
The building, now topped with a lighted Howard Hanna sign, also includes financial services staff and the regional office formerly located in Upper St. Clair. From Mt. Lebanon, Howard Hanna staff will supervise agents from six of its offices in the southern and western suburbs.
In February, after leases of all but one tenant expired or were terminated, contractors began gutting and rebuilding the space into a jewel for the company's top-selling office, officials said.
“This office is the No. 1 office in terms of sales,” said Gloria Schucolsky, senior vice president for Howard Hanna's southwest region, citing 846 sales in 2012 worth a total of about $185 million. “The No. 1 office should have the No. 1 location, should be the flagship office for the region, and this is. It's beautiful,” she said.
Officials at Howard Hanna would not disclose how much the renovation cost, but work was extensive.
Project architect Stephen Casey said the three-story, 11,000-square-foot building was constructed in the 1920s as the Mt. Lebanon Medical Building. It has terra-cotta staff-and-snake medallions along its top to symbolize the medical profession and commerce.
Years of use and a hodgepodge of repairs and renovations meant it no longer met modern standards of comfort and safety, he said.
“The building really had come to the end of its useful life. There were some dramatic deficiencies with it,” said Casey, whose firm is based in the Strip District. “There was no (handicapped) access, it had an old and cranky steam heat system, no air conditioning, and the electrical work was frightening.”
Contractors replaced wiring, installed a new heating and air conditioning system and fire sprinklers, and reconfigured the interior space.
They also restored the terra-cotta eagles and medallions, and rebuilt a wall facing the public plaza along Alfred Street, Casey said.
Now the building features large windows overlooking Alfred and Washington. They light open-concept office spaces for up to 75 real estate agents on the top and middle floors.
The windows fronting Washington Road eventually will have displays showing homes for sale, and a lobby with a large staircase will welcome walk-in customers, said Ruth Foltz, manager of the Mt. Lebanon office.
The southwest regional office — supervising agents from offices in Mt. Lebanon, Washington, Peters, Baldwin, Whitehall, Moon, Sewickley and Collier — will be relocated from Upper St. Clair to space on the bottom floor.
Of the stores and professional offices once located there, only Mt. Lebanon Shoe Repair, on the ground floor, maintained its lease. Owner Ross LoCastro credited the Hanna family's sympathy to the difficulty of moving his equipment.
Jay Weaver, owner of SoundColor Studios, moved to a storefront in Carnegie where he could have his recording business on the first floor and his apartment above.
“Financially, I hadn't planned on a move like that. In the end it was rough, but I ended up buying my own space so it wouldn't happen again,” he said.
The owners of Resonance Violins bought and renovated a two-story building at the other end of Mt. Lebanon's Uptown business district, next to Rollier's Hardware, manager Lily Yan said.
Pixel River digital printing and Ed Massery photographer, formerly upstairs tenants at 701 Washington, are renting the upper floor of the Resonance building.
“We're happy with the investment that Howard Hanna has put into the building, which is a very difficult building,” said Eric Milliron, Mt. Lebanon's commercial districts manager.
“We're also very happy that we were able to retain most of the businesses in Mt. Lebanon.”
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Young Achiever: Everitt D. Meer
- Giant Eagle combines ‘best of both worlds’
- Dormont bumps up parking enforcement
- North Side filmmaker returns to alma mater OLSH a success
- High school ensembles to perform at Allegheny County Courthouse
- Cool Springs owner plans ambitious revival
- Ross officials debate cutting insurance
- Brownsville, Broughton realignment, planned for decades, improves flow