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Architect pushes effort to preserve part of Produce Termimal in Pittsburgh's Strip District

| Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, 12:08 a.m.

Sarah Kroloff says the Strip District's Produce Terminal Building helped inspire her to become an architect.

Now, Kroloff is trying to save a portion of the 87-year-old building from the wrecking ball.

“As an architect, I've always been pro-development and supportive of change. But I'm always fearful that once an area becomes popular, we take away the things that made it what it was,” said Kroloff, 41, who nominated the Produce Terminal as a historic building.

The city's Historic Review Commission is scheduled to make its recommendation on the nomination when it meets on Wednesday. Kroloff is one of several people scheduled to speak before commissioners vote.

The Strip District-based Buncher Co. has an option to buy the Produce Terminal for $1.8 million. The company said it wants to demolish about a third of the quarter-mile-long building so it can extend 17th Street to the edge of the Allegheny River, where a public plaza would be built as part of $400 million in planned development between 11th and 21st streets. The development would include townhomes, offices and shops.

Buncher President and CEO Tom Balestrieri declined to comment. He has said the larger development project will go forward even if the Produce Terminal is deemed historic.

The designation wouldn't prevent demolition of the building, but Buncher would need to get approval from the Historic Review Commission to perform such work.

Kroloff and the Downtown nonprofit Preservation Pittsburgh sought the historic designation in May.

Kroloff said the Produce Terminal deserves the designation because of its architectural uniquenesss and history as an important wholesale distribution center. She said the Strip District is “defined by this building and the perspective view to the skyline beyond (to create) one of the most memorable cityscapes that define Pittsburgh travel and tourism publications.”

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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