Theater at Southside Works to Be Made into Office Space

By Belko, Mark | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), October 14, 2020 | Go to article overview

Theater at Southside Works to Be Made into Office Space


Belko, Mark, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


It's a wrap, folks.

City planning commissioners cleared the way Tuesday for the SouthSide Works Cinema to be replaced by the Box Office, a 77,000-square-office space designed to attract tech tenants and others.

The conversion represents the first installment of a proposed $37 million makeover designed to spark new energy into a Monongahela riverfront complex that has fallen on hard times in recent years.

Also Tuesday, the commission unanimously approved plans for a $21 million, five-story homeless shelter billed as "unlike any other in Allegheny County" to be built on Second Avenue near the Municipal Courts Building in Downtown.

The SouthSide Works Cinema was at one time a go-to destination for moviegoers.

It opened in 2004 with a lineup that included "Napoleon Dynamite," "The Princess Diaries 2," and "The Bourne Supremacy." Actor Tom Cruise visited in 2012 for the opening of "Jack Reacher."

Nonetheless, New York-based Somera Road, a commercial real estate firm that targets distressed assets, decided to redevelop the movie house after becoming owner of SouthSide Works, a former steel mill, last summer.

Jonathon Reeser, Somera Road vice president, said the theater wasn't the "highest and best use" for the site. The office complex, designed to attract a range of users, will bring "9 to 5 activity" to the complex to complement the restaurant, retail, and residential offerings.

"It creates a very dynamic and cohesive environment," he said.

Somera Road hopes to begin the conversion before the end of the year and have it completed by the spring of 2021. The theater closed in the spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new owner plans to leave the theater's marquee as it is "to be a nod to the former use of the building," said Tabitha Darko of the HOK architectural firm.

Inside, a partial mezzanine level used for the theater's projection equipment will become a full floor of office space.

Floors two and three also will be turned into offices and the theater's lobby will be redone.

Mr. Reeser said Somera Road has begun discussions with a few possible tenants but has yet to finalize any deals for space.

The work is part of a broader improvement campaign for the 34-acre complex that is to include changes to the town square and streets, expanded green space, more public art, and children's and dog play areas.

Among the new amenities will be a container park at South 28th and Sidney streets that is to feature bars, restaurants and entertainment options.

Somera Road also plans to spend $2 million to upgrade the town square located in front of the Cheesecake Factory to make it more of a community gathering spot. …

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