As "Sweet Home Alabama" played in the background, some of Pittsburgh's senior citizens line up for lunch and coffee Monday in the newly renovated South Side Market House. The facility has been closed for 15 months for renovations. Activities like this were moved to the Brashear Association's location on Sarah Street while renovations were underway.
On the outside, the historic landmark looks like it just got a newly painted sign. On the inside, it's a modern facility with light green and white walls, long banquet-style tables and an abundance of foldout chairs. Phase 1 of renovations for the Market House has been completed. The building's ground floor now boasts new flooring, improved meeting rooms, and extra televisions.
Originally, the Market House was due to open in the beginning of June, but Rob Kaczorowski, Director of Pittsburgh's Public Works Department, said the delay allowed more detailed work to be completed.
"We did a little bit more," Kaczorowski said. "We continued the painting, we had some work in the kitchen area, so we extended our work plan."
The Department of Public Works funded the project, and calculates it saved around $400,000 by doing the work itself instead of contracting with a company. Bids for the work had come in around $930,000 for the project.
Bruce Kraus, Pittsburgh City Councilman, said a senior advisory panel was put together so users could have some input on things like paint color.
"They became a part of the process instead of just sitting on the sideline waiting for us to do it," Kraus said. "They now have some ownership in here, some history, to say, 'You know what, I contributed to this project.'"
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said there is still more work to be done in Phase 2, which will be finished around October of this year.
"Phase 2 will include a remodeled gym and ADA accessible showers," Ravenstahl said.
The next project on the South Side for the city will be the Oliver Bath House. Kaczorowski said if those renovations were contracted out completely, it would cost around $1 million, so the city is evaluating what can be done in-house and expects to start on the project this year.