New development will raze GLCC building

Rumors circulated last week that the building housing Pittsburgh's Gay & Lesbian Community Center would be razed as part of a planned new development on the prime intersection of 5 roads in Squirrel Hill. 

They were right.

According to Saturday's Post-Gazette, a $50 million residential/retail development mix is slated for the corner of Murray and Forward, home to the former Poli's building along with other smaller retail establishments.  Including the GLCC, too.  And the Squirrel Hill Theater.

Called Forward Square, the development by R.E. Crawford and Cambridge Venture Partners is proposed on a 150,000-square-foot site at Murray and Forward avenues. The nine-story project would include a six-story hotel, 20 condos on the three other floors, a restaurant similar to Sonoma Grill, several retailers and a two-story water plaza.

Sales agreements have been reached both for the former Poli property on Murray Avenue, including its two parking lots on lower Forward, and with Alderson-Forward Properties, which owns an adjacent building at 5800 Forward now housing five businesses, including the six-screen Squirrel Hill Theater.

Wow.  What exactly is a two-story water plaza?  The article described plans for the martial arts facility to move a few blocks up Murray into the plaza housing Starbucks (now there's a combo), but no plans for the relocation of other businesses.

We just went to see The Dark Knight at the Squirrel Hill Theater last night.  What a shame if it doesn't reopen elsewhere in the community — they just began accepting debit cards!  For those moviegoers who prefer to avoid the hyper-manic, teen hormone drive experience that is the Waterfront, the Squirrel Hill theaters are good choices.  Our experience last night was only slightly diminished by the self-conscious cooing of college students sharing their wordly experience as they slowly trickle back into town.  Slightly.

And the GLCC?  Plans are underway to purchase a building in the future, but I've heard no significant announcements regarding a capital campaign.  So I assume they relocate and rent.  Board vice-chair Kat Carrick indicates that moving can actually be progress for the Center:

 you know there is a future for the glcc!
the only question is where we are relocating
this is an opportunity to acquire a building we identified in our 5 year strategic planning work — one that is handicapped accessible, with better parking and on the bus line ….in order to  better serve the community
we will be working with city and county officials to ensure we have a smooth transition to a new space

Where would you like to see the GLCC relocate?   I think East Liberty or the Northside would be ideal, assuming space is available to meet the requirements outlined by Kat.  The dated notion that queers are afraid to come to the City went out the window with the advent of some hot new eateries and Whole Foods.  East Liberty is probably unaffordable by now as it continues to morph into East Side.  What's available on the Northside?

And would this be a great chance to partner with the Squirrel Hill Theater owners to redevelop the Garden Theater into something, well, functional?  I have no idea how all that development stuff works, but there's more parking over here than near the current location and plenty of bus lines on North Avenue. 

One can only hope the GLCC remains in Pittsburgh proper.  Squirrel Hill has been a good home and it is a shame that all of the recent renovations will be for naught, but this could be an opportunity to propel our community forward. 

Take a moment to check out the very well-done GLCC website Now is a good time to step forward and pay attention.  Attend a board meeting to hear relocation plans for the horses' mouths.  Volunteer.  Donate. 

Stay tuned.


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