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July 12, 2007

Plans for University Club still uncertain

Although Pitt has applied for a liquor license for the University Club, no final decisions on uses for the club have been made.

Pitt officials confirmed that in April the University filed an application to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (LCB) to have the option of serving alcohol in the 83-year-old, eight-story building at 123 University Place. Pitt purchased the former private club and its one-acre property in May 2005 for $3.1 million. The building had housed banquet and meeting rooms, 50 sleeping rooms, offices, a library and a recreation facility.

Suggestions from the Pitt community for uses for the building have included a faculty/staff club, a recreation center, a conference center and housing for visitors.

Since the purchase, University officials have stated that uses for the building must be self-sustaining financially. In fall 2005, Pitt hired an outside consultant to review potential costs to convert the building for one or more uses. The consultant’s report was not made public.

In June 2006, then-president of the University Senate Irene Frieze, who was familiar with the report, told the University Times, “The consultant has submitted a report, but many of the options that were discussed did not seem viable and [Pitt is] looking at new options as well as re-evaluating options that were previously considered.”

Also in June 2006, Chancellor Mark Nordenberg said, “Our primary interest in purchasing the building is its location. It is an historic building located in the middle of the campus, one that presents real challenges [to convert],” he said. “We’re looking at uses for it that would be both cost-effective and effective in a programmatic sense.”

This week, Pitt spokesperson John Fedele said, “The reason the University applied for a liquor license is that several of the uses for the University Club that are being considered — conferences, receptions, visitors’ quarters, a faculty and staff club — would be well-served to have liquor available. We’re still evaluating all those uses, and others. But no final decisions have been made yet on what will go in the building.” He said the LCB has not yet ruled on Pitt’s application.

According to the LCB web site, there is no time limit on when an application decision may be made. Pitt is required to post a liquor application sticker prominently on the building until a decision is rendered, the web site states.

Fedele added that any decisions on club usage would have to be approved by the trustees property and facilities committee, which is not expected to meet until fall.

—Peter Hart

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