In Braddock, New Tenant at Free Press Building

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Courtesy Mon Valley Initiative

Studebaker Metals, a metal accessory and jewelry manufacturer, is the first commercial tenant in the recently renovated Free Press Buildings in Braddock, developed by the Mon Valley Initiative.

The business owners and community leaders will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. this Friday at the buildings, located at 534-538 Braddock Ave.

In attendance will be HUD Pittsburgh Field Office Director Jane Miller, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Braddock Council President Tina Doose, and Laura Zinski, chief executive officer of Mon Valley Initiative.

Business owners Michael Studebaker and Alyssa Catalano launched the company out of Studebaker's father's basement in nearby East Pittsburgh. They use traditional metalsmithing techniques, manipulating metals directly with hammers and anvils. The two had previously focused on selling their product wholesale, but had not considered having a retail element. This space made that possible.

But after receiving a large order, they realized they needed more space.

They moved into a warehouse space in Wilkinsburg but were still searching for another location for the business. The two recently bought a house in North Braddock, which is when they heard about the renovation of the Free Press Buildings and contacted Patrick Shattuck, MVI's real estate director.

While taking a tour of the space with Shattuck, Studebaker says he immediately fell in love. "The space, physically, is perfect," Studebaker said.

Courtesy Mon Valley Initiative

Studebaker and Catalano see Braddock as a perfect fit for their company, given its industrial heritage. Studebaker Metals prides itself on being "American Made."

Formerly the home of the Braddock Free Press newspaper as well as other businesses, the Free Press Buildings have received a $1.65 million restoration through the Mon Valley Initiative, restoring 28,000 square feet of usable commercial space to the tax rolls.

Most days, one will find Studebaker and Catalano, along with their two employees, hard at work.

From outside the shop, one can hear the jewelry being created in their workspace. Inside their showroom at 534 Braddock Ave., beautiful, vintage cases will house the final product and from a window customers can watch the creation take place.

Having grown up in Forest Hills, Studebaker says he always had strong ties to Braddock and the nearby communities. He remembers going to A Boss Optician as a kid, still located right down Braddock Avenue from his new business. Even when he moved away from the area, he kept up with what was going on in Braddock.

Braddock's industrial heritage gives the borough "a different vibe than other nearby boroughs," Studebaker said. "I am excited about the progress that the community has made and am excited to be part of the movement."

Editor's Note: This story was written entirely from a press release from Bethany Bloise of Mon Valley Initiative. Photos courtesy of Mon Valley Initiative.

Originally published October 27, 2015.

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