When We Were Young: The Clark Building
Looking for old-world luxury in the heart of downtown? The Clark Building is one of the most historic pieces of the Pittsburgh skyline, with major connections to the classic Hollywood of years gone by. The 23-story building is situated just across from the Wood Street Galleries on Liberty Avenue, and with its 1920s architecture and incredible stone facade, you’ll get the best of modern city living in a building full of vintage charm.
The Clark Building was built in 1927 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (or MGM) film studio owner James Clark (hence the name) and the Stanley Theatre Co., who owned and built the adjacent Benedum Theater at a cost of $3 million. When it first opened, Clark used the building’s mezzanine screening room to show MGM films, and it wasn’t uncommon to see famous actors, film critics and other Hollywood types coming and going. The penthouse suite was used as the regional headquarters for Warner Brothers, so the entire building was truly like the entertainment epicenter of downtown Pittsburgh.
As more and more film business migrated to larger cities, the Clark Building began to empty, allowing a new group to move in: jewelers. During the peak of its ‘Diamond District’ era, at least 70 jewelers called the building home, ranging from jewelry designers to gem wholesalers. Today, it’s still home to about 20 longtime members of the carat crowd and still a favorite destination for those looking to buy something that sparkles.
The late 90’s bought another new wave of change to the building. The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute purchased the Clark Building to use as its classrooms and test kitchens. As the school grew and gained recognition, it later became a part of the world-famous Le Cordon Bleu schools. Yet the change was short-lived, as the school shut down in 2012, leaving the building vacant aside from the bottom six floors that were still occupied by privately owned jewelry companies.
After changing hands, ambitious development plans and an eventual sheriff’s sale, The Clark Building found itself sitting practically empty with no plans for the block-long property. That was until Philadelphia-based PMC Property Group acquired the building in 2014 with plans to turn it into luxury apartments — and they made good on their word.
Residents of the 228 units completed in 2014 enjoy modern amenities like the requisite stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors and granite countertops, in addition to original details like huge windows and sky-high ceilings, plus some of the most enviable views in all of downtown. The rooftop deck is not for the faint of heart, towering higher than any other in town and offering views of PNC Park, the North Shore and the Allegheny River while you lounge on the luxury patio furniture or host a cookout on the brand new grills. Inside, residents also have a state-of-the-art fitness center with a 75-inch flat screen TV, a nod to the old screening room that once put the Clark Building on the map.
And the building continues to evolve. Coming this December, the building will welcome Penn Cove Eatery and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood Bar to the building. Penn Cove is the latest concept from the team behind Penn Ave Fish Co in the Strip, marking their return to downtown with a casual seafood-focused lunch and dinner spot and an attached wine shop (yes, please!). The Mr. Rogers corner bar concept comes from the same team that brought the pop-up holiday bar Miracle to Liberty Avenue and aims fill the void of the friendly neighborhood bar (but with some serious talent behind the bar, look for more impressive drinks than the typical dive).
So, let’s recap: From Hollywood to diamonds to culinary school to vacant to your new apartment and happy hour spot. We’re in! Oh, they are also offering a free month of rent…so we are extra in!