The ornate constructing that previously housed First Commonwealth Financial institution in Leechburg quickly will turn out to be a co-working house and enterprise middle for space entrepreneurs and people who work at home.
There are hopes the constructing, which incorporates a number of non-public places of work in addition to convention rooms and open tables for collaborative work, will turn out to be an asset that evokes extra companies to arrange store within the borough.
That’s in line with Lou Phillips, a member of the Leechburg Space Neighborhood Improvement Company, a brand new nonprofit that not too long ago acquired the constructing by means of a donation.
The group organized in 2019 with the aim of stimulating the Leechburg space “in order that it might attain its best potential,” in line with its website, which launched this week. Board members embrace Leechburg Mayor Wayne Dobos, Leechburg Space College District Superintendent Tiffany Nix and a number of other others with ties to the neighborhood. The group has seven committees targeted on subjects reminiscent of actual property, parks and recreation, enterprise and business, and different social and financial classes.
Phillips, a Leechburg native, sees the group’s precedence as discovering a future for the borough. In 1950, it had about 5,000 residents. At the moment, its inhabitants is all the way down to about 2,000 and its days as a canal, metal and coal city are lengthy gone.
“What’s Leechburg going to be?” he stated. “The mission of the neighborhood improvement company is to assist Leechburg discover its strategy to its new id, no matter that’s going to be.”
The concept for a co-working house got here in 2019 as a strategy to entice extra individuals who may in any other case reside in Pittsburgh, together with those that must commute to the town solely a few days per week or entrepreneurs with no bodily store or workplace. The covid-19 pandemic and widespread work-from-home developments solely solidified the concept, Phillips stated. Now, many firms are realizing the advantages of work-from-home choices, and a few may proceed permitting it after the pandemic is over.
The hope is that the house can have a broader impression of supporting Leechburg companies, normally.
“A co-working house is, hopefully, a little bit of an attraction to individuals who may wish to come and reside in Leechburg, for individuals who reside in Leechburg and are pissed off by the commute and for individuals who are pissed off by working at dwelling,” Phillips stated.
Phillips stated the event group visited a number of venues within the space earlier than the financial institution introduced in August 2020 it will be closing the Leechburg department. The group approached First Commonwealth to see if it would contemplate donating the constructing. The deal closed March 11.
“We’re nonetheless a part of the neighborhood,” stated Jonathan Longwill, vice chairman of communications at First Commonwealth. “Technically, you cross the river, it’s a unique county, it’s a unique municipality. However this space is a neighborhood, and we nonetheless are invested locally and wish to be part of it.”
This isn’t the primary neighborhood collaboration during which First Commonwealth has donated a constructing, Longwill stated, citing an analogous deal in McKeesport.
“If this partnership will help the neighborhood develop and maintain, carry new alternatives, we undoubtedly sit up for working with them on that,” he stated.
The financial institution left nearly all of its furnishings within the constructing, together with desks, tables and chairs. There are a functioning range and fridge on the highest flooring, and the event group is within the course of of putting in stronger web infrastructure to the outdated constructing.
The group is contemplating sure renovations for the constructing, which was inbuilt 1926 and as soon as housed the Hicks Coal Co. Nonetheless, lots of the financial institution’s options will stay within the co-working house as a reminder of the constructing’s historical past. In some rooms, there are large safes constructed into the partitions subsequent to the desks.
“It’s actually a historic landmark,” stated Ron Walko, one other board member of the event group.
Along with the co-working house, the third flooring might be marketed as a enterprise middle the place particular person places of work could be rented out on a extra semipermanent foundation. The event group will use one of many places of work as its personal headquarters.
Phillips stated the event group is advertising and marketing the constructing and finding individuals who is likely to be desirous about utilizing the enterprise middle. He stated it will be preferrred for individuals who can work at home however are on the lookout for a devoted workplace house for focus or a spot to satisfy purchasers. An official date for the constructing’s reopening has not been set.