Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nightclub Refuses to Vacate Property Developer's Plan to Raze Building Hits Standstill in Court

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nightclub Refuses to Vacate Property Developer's Plan to Raze Building Hits Standstill in Court

Article excerpt

Developer Forest City Enterprises wants to demolish Station Square's East Warehouse, the building that once housed the likes of Matrix, Hooter's and Woodson's All-Star Grille. But one thing is standing in the way - Whim Pittsburgh.

The nightclub is refusing to leave its spot in the former railroad warehouse after Forest City terminated its lease. The Cleveland developer plans to raze the building to make way for parking and an eventual residential development.

The club has sued in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, claiming the developer has yet to get what it needs to terminate the lease - approval from the city planning commission for the redevelopment plans.

But in a counter suit, Forest City argued that it met that standard earlier this year when it received approval from the city's zoning board of adjustment for a variance to change the property use to commercial parking. The developer accused Whim of breaching the lease.

The developer urged Common Pleas Senior Judge Joseph James, who held a hearing on the dispute last week, to declare the variance approval "is an approval of the East Warehouse Redevelopment Plan for purposes" of the lease.

Forest City wants to get moving on the demolition by July 1 so new parking there can be ready by Sept. 1, as required under the developer's agreement with its lender.

Whim is the only tenant left in the East Warehouse, which for decades had served as one of the city's top night spots. The razing would clear the way for the completion of a new surface parking area with 316 parking spaces.

That lot would complement about 1,130 existing parking spaces that surround the warehouse on the east side of Station Square. Forest City expects to need the new spaces when it moves forward with plans to build apartments or condominiums on the property.

The developer has toyed with the idea of doing a residential development on that land since 2006, when it proposed building up to 1,200 condos as part of its unsuccessful bid for the Pittsburgh casino license.

In deciding against selling the Station Square complex last year, Forest City said it was actively seeking a partner to help develop a "meaningful" number of apartments or condos. …

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