New Kensington’s Bloser Mansion could become a bed and breakfast
Editor’s note: This story originally appeared on Sunday, March 3, but with an incorrect address and photograph of the property being proposed for a bed and breakfast. This story contains the correct information.
Corey Pistininzi wants to turn a New Kensington landmark into a destination, and the city’s zoning hearing board is giving him that opportunity.
The board voted 2-0, with Chairman Bruce Pipman absent, to grant Pistininzi a variance to turn the old Bloser Mansion in Parnassus into a bed and breakfast/events center.
Pistininzi, wife Alyssa and aunt Kelly Corridoni formed a partnership, Bloser Mansion LLC, to bring the project to fruition.
“That’s the goal — to make it a destination that brings people to New Kensington and see what it has to offer, and it has a lot,” Pistininzi told zoning board members Tom Kaniecki and John Cope.
The Bloser Mansion at 479 Sixth Ave. was built in 1921.
The Bloser family operated Bloser’s Jewelry on Fifth Avenue in downtown New Kensington from 1873, when E.A. Bloser started it, until it closed in 1996.
Bloser Mansion LLC owns the property.
Pistininzi and his family moved to New Kensington almost six years ago after they outgrew their condominium in Pittsburgh. He said he fell in love with the area and bought a home in the Parnassus section, noting the tremendous real estate values the city has to offer.
He operates Modfinish, a professional design, furnishings and remodeling business, in the old Bair Electric building on Fifth Avenue.
The mansion is in relatively good condition and he believes he can restore and transform it into his vision within the space of two to three months, Pistinizi said.
That vision, as he outlined it to the zoning board, is to install a new kitchen on the first floor, which will be the events center. He said the idea would be to rent it out for gatherings and private parties such as bridal and baby showers and small weddings as well as providing it free for civic events.
The second floor has four bedrooms, but Pistininzi said that likely will be reduced to three bedrooms so each room can have a private bathroom. It likely would be for typical bed-and-breakfast short-term stays of two or three days.
The third floor also has three bedrooms and a kitchen and would accommodate guests desiring longer stays. Also, there is a carriage house in the rear that will have a one-bedroom accommodation with a kitchen for a total of seven rooms for guests.
“It will be a little more accommodating, have a little more character than your typical modern hotel,” Pistininzi said.
The partnership bought a vacant house next to the mansion and razed it to provide parking.
“I think it’s a good idea, myself,” said Kaniecki, the zoning board’s vice chairman. “I like the concept.”
He said they brought the proposal before the city planning commission to see if the project was doable and the commission gave its approval to the idea.
However, a variance still was needed. City zoning officer Tony Males explained the neighborhood is zoned for single-family dwellings.
Overall, the property complies with the rest of the ordinances, Males said. He recommended the board grant the use variance.
“I feel these are unique circumstances and it would be an improvement for the area,” Males said.
Neighborhood residents who came to the hearing voiced no strenuous objections.
Former mayor Frank Link, who lives a few doors away from the mansion, said he is not opposed to it but he is concerned about preserving the integrity and safety of the neighborhood, particularly for children, in regard to a possible increase in traffic.
He asked if traffic humps could be provided to discourage speeding.
Another Parnassus resident, Robert Sauro, praised the project and the Pistininzis.
He noted New Kensington has been slowly dying and needs help from people like them to infuse new life into it.
“Parnassus is especially dying, and it is easily the only historic part of the city left,” Sauro said. “What they are proposing is amazing.”
Both zoning board members approved the variance with a recommendation that a speed hump be included in the plans.
Pistininzi said Bloser Mansion LLC must go back before the planning commission with detailed development plans for review and approval. The project then would head to city council with the planning commission’s recommendation before the project is finally approved.
Once that happens, Pistininzi said, work on the mansion would probably begin in late spring or early summer.