June 20, 2018
Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation are pleased that 44th and Summit Development LLC has voluntarily withdrawn the demolition permit application for the Holy Family church, filed on May 29, 2018. Completed in 1940 to serve the growing Polish immigrant population in the Lawrenceville area, the church is a contributing building to Lawrenceville’s current nomination to the National Registry of Historic Places and one of the neighborhood’s most iconic buildings.
Lawrenceville United’s (LU) mission is to improve and protect the quality of life for all Lawrenceville residents. Lawrenceville Corporation (LC) serves as the catalyst and conduit for responsible growth and reinvestment in the Lawrenceville community. Together, LU and LC steward development in the neighborhood, ensuring that individual projects comport with neighborhood plans and values, and contribute to the authenticity of the neighborhood. As a part of this effort, our organizations created a community process that provides a forum where new development projects can be discussed, vetted, and measured against community plans and priorities.
Several years ago, LU and LC worked with the property owners on a robust community process for their proposed redevelopment of the former Holy Family Church and School for residential housing. This community process included large community meetings as well as smaller focus-group sessions with residents from different impact areas. Hundreds of residents participated in the process. In response to articulated concerns, the owners revised their plans to reduce the overall unit count while increasing the parking. Notably, the adaptive re-use of the historic church structure was central to the plans. LU and LC publicly supported these revised plans. Documents from this community process are available on LU’s website at www.LUnited.org.
Our organizations were hit unexpectedly with the recent demolition permit application without advance notice, and we viewed the proposed demolition as a serious deviation from the agreements and commitments made by the property owner. In response, the LC and LU co-submitted a nomination to the City’s Historic Review Commission for historic listing of the Holy Family Church. Prepared by Preservation Pittsburgh with support from the Lawrenceville Historic Society, the nomination ensures that—for the near term—any and all proposed exterior alterations of the church must be reviewed and approved by the Historic Review Commission before they take place.
44th and Summit Development LLC withdrew their demolition application on Friday, June 16th and released a statement indicating that they are committed to working with the community to formulate a new path forward. LU and LC appreciate this orientation and remain fully supportive of responsible redevelopment on the property that aligns with community priorities. The continued dilapidation of a vacant and blighted 1.5-acre site in the heart of Central Lawrenceville is not beneficial to neighbors or the community at-large. We look forward to working in good faith and in earnest with 44th and Summit Development and other partners on a community-supported plan for redevelopment of the site that includes the preservation of the sanctuary.
We thank Mayor William Peduto, Councilwoman Deb Gross, Preservation Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville Historical Society, and Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation for their support in preserving this historic church.