Proposal envisions North Park Boathouse as lakeside restaurant
The historic North Park Boathouse could be reborn as a lakeside restaurant under a proposal from the owners of a bicycle-themed South Side restaurant and bar, Allegheny County officials said Wednesday.
Officials plan to present a five-year proposal to County Council next week that calls for the owners of OTB Bicycle Cafe to pay for nearly $300,000 in renovations to the 76-year-old stone building in the county park. It would net the county annual rent starting at $36,000 the first year and reaching $60,000 by the fifth year, county spokeswoman Amie Downs said.
“I can see a nice restaurant there by the lake and a patio on the deck,” County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said. “It's a beautiful location.” The park, which has no restaurants, is popular with bicyclists, runners and kayakers.
OTB owners Mike Kotyk, 38, of Baldwin Borough, and Marty Maloney, 46, of the South Side, confirmed their interest in the boathouse. Kotyk said he submitted a proposal but declined to discuss the terms and said the agreement was not finalized. He did not say whether the proposal going to County Council was something he agreed to.
“It hasn't gotten that far as far as lease terms,” Kotyk said.
Fitzgerald said the restaurant idea is part of a plan to get more private business into the parks. He said old houses or buildings in South Park or other parks could be turned into restaurants or other businesses.
“I want to take a look at opportunities in the parks that might be done better as a business,” he said. “Any kind of recreational activity really — it could be things like golf courses, ski slopes, kayaking, fishing.”
Downs said OTB was the lone respondent when the county requested bids in April for a reuse and renovation plan for the boathouse, which the county built in 1936 during the Depression.
Kayak Pittsburgh, a project of nonprofit group Venture Outdoors, rents boats out of the building for people to take out on the lake.
“We are still going to operate the boat rental,” said Jon Lucadamo, projects director for Venture Outdoors. “It's a win-win for everyone involved, and it upgrades an aging building.”
County Councilman Nick Futules, who heads council's parks committee, said he knew the county was negotiating a contract for the restaurant.
“We're not spending any money. Any time you add to the park, it's a good idea,” said Futules, D-Oakmont. “But I'm more concerned that (Kotyk and Maloney) make it. I want them to be successful, not be there one to two years and leave it empty.”
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or email@example.com.