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Future of Produce Terminal, Strip District development remains uncertain

| Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, 2:33 p.m.

Pittsburgh City Council on Monday delayed a vote for a second consecutive week on whether to grant historic status for the Strip District's landmark Produce Terminal.

Preservationists pushed for historic status because Buncher Co., which has a $1.8 million option to buy the building from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, applied for permits to demolish about one-third of it. The company is planning the $400 million Riverfront Landing development adjacent to the terminal and wants to tear down several blocks of the 1,500-foot-long structure for access.

Buncher President/CEO Thomas J. Balestrieri declined to comment.

State Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, a member of the URA board of directors, urged council in a letter on Monday to vote against the historic designation, noting that Buncher Co. promised to renovate the terminal and build Riverfront Landing without public subsidies.

Buncher has said historic status, which would require the company to seek city permission to demolish the terminal, could scuttle the development. It plans a mix of retail, residential and office space and a public plaza on 55 acres of vacant land along the Allegheny River.

Buncher promised to renovate what remains of the terminal. Renovation costs are estimated at $25 million.

Council delayed voting to review alternatives and determine whether it would have regulatory powers over the terminal if Buncher buys it.

Preservationists proposed cutting as many as three “pass-throughs” into the terminal that would accommodate streets to the Buncher property.

Bob Bauder is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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