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Pittsburgh official backs historic nomination for Produce Terminal

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 12:21 a.m.

A top preservation official recommended the Pittsburgh Planning Commission approve a request to designate the 87-year-old Produce Terminal Building in the Strip District a historic structure.

“I absolutely agree with the nomination,” Sarah Quinn, the city's historic preservation planner, said after briefing the commissioners. “The building is fairly unaltered. The building is very clearly a landmark. The building is historic.”

The commission could vote on the nomination next month. Its decision would go to City Council, which could vote to accept or reject the commission's recommendation.

If council approves the nomination, it could stop Strip District-based The Buncher Co. from demolishing about 30 percent of the building as part of a $400 million development planned for the Strip District.

President and CEO Thomas J. Balestrieri previously said his company would proceed with the development regardless of the historic designation of the Produce Terminal. Balestrieri could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

During the early 20th century, the building served first railcars and later trucks carrying fresh produce from Florida and California.

Referencing the historic nomination form prepared by nonprofit Preservation Pittsburgh and Sarah Kroloff, a Lawrenceville architect, Quinn said the Produce Terminal was the last remaining structure of its type, unique because of its length and linked to the history of the Strip.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority owns the nearly 1,500-foot-long building between 16th and 21st streets. The Buncher Co., a private developer, has an agreement to buy the building for $1.8 million.

Commissioners could consider whether to approve the nomination at their Oct. 15 meeting, Quinn said. The city's Historic Review Commission, which gave preliminary approval for the nomination in July, could make their determination on Oct. 2.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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