Irwin officials plan to transform former hotel site to Lamp courtyard

| Monday, June 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Irwin officials hope to turn the former site of the Irwin Hotel into a courtyard for the Lamp Theatre.

The land, which is owned by the Westmoreland County Redevelopment Authority, could be deeded to the borough if officials submit plans to develop it, council President John Cassandro said.

“We'd like to make it similar to the courtyard outside of the Palace Theater, with a small stage, tables and chairs, where we can hold some events, like Art and Jazz Nights,” Cassandro said. “It'd be complimentary to the Lamp.”

The Irwin Hotel burned during a fire in 2009, and was eventually demolished through a grant from the Westmoreland County Redevelopment Authority. Currently, the 6,760-square-foot lot situated between the Lamp Theatre and Café Supreme, remains vacant, Cassandro said.

If the authority gives the site to the borough, council plans to develop it in three phases, Cassandro said.

During the first phase, officials plan to pave the lot, and build a small stage to accommodate small performances, he said. The second phase includes installing a fence, tables, chairs and other amenities, while the final part would include landscaping, he said.

Borough manager Mary Benko said officials always liked the idea of using the lot as a part of the theater project.

“It's what had always been intended on our behalf, and we can understand why they want to see plans for what we want to do with it,” Benko said. “They can't just hand it to us and say, ‘here you go,' because they want to make sure it's used properly.”

Cassandro said officials hope to submit plans to the authority as soon as possible, though a financial plan could slow the project's momentum.

Officials have not yet prepared cost estimates for the project, he said.

“As with anything, money is always going to be our biggest factor and hurdle,” Cassandro said. “The biggest thing now is just getting it paved, so we can start holding events there.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or

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