Pgh Automobile Row dealership to be demolished

Don Allen Auto City, a well-known car dealership on Pittsburgh’s East End, is set to be replaced by a $230 million development. The c. 1920 showoom and related areas cover seven acres where Baum Boulevard intersects Liberty Avenue, and at the confluence of three communities: Shadyside, Bloomfield and East Liberty. All buildings will be demolished and over the next four years, the site will fill with townhouses, condominiums, a 9-story hotel, 1,200 parking spaces, and 700,000 square feet of office and related space. A triangular park bordered by Liberty, Baum and South Aiken Avenue will also be built. Numerous publications and sites are covering the story including Hotels, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

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Don Allen opened 52 years ago and has been owned by the Voelker family for 50 years. The building long had a 1960s metallic facade, but it was removed in recent years, exposing the brick underneath. A mural from that period remains in the parts department, its fate unknown. The business stretches a few blocks along Baum Boulevard, once the city’s Automobile Row. It was a main road into Pittsburgh’s wealthy eastern suburbs, and so became a leading retail, repair, and manufacturing center for bicycles, and then for cars by the 1910s. Scattered remnants survive, including a former Ford assembly plant a couple block west, a 1933 Modernist Chrysler showroom designed by Albert Kahn a few blocks east, and a showroom turned drug store across from that. A few blocks farther eastward is a marker for the first drive-in filling station, which is more correctly the first architect designed drive-in station, built by Gulf in 1913

This video report below includes a woman who says “they need something that’s more affordable…. It’s just outrageous trying to find a place that people can afford.” Another questions whether more housing and hotels are needed. Click on the image to open the video’s web page:

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Inventory liquidation is ongoing, and site preparation should start this summer, pending city approval and funding; according to the Post-Gazette, “The project partners acknowledge that they hope to secure public financing to assist with the project, although they were not willing today to specify what type or how much.”

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