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Recently renovated Free Press Buildings attract new business to Braddock


Recently renovated Free Press Buildings attract new business to Braddock

Braddock, Pa., October 22, 2015 – Studebaker Metals, a metal accessory and jewelry manufacturer, is the first commercial tenant in the recently renovated Free Press Buildings in Braddock, PA, developed by the Mon Valley Initiative (MVI).

Business owners Michael Studebaker and Alyssa Catalano’s decision to move into their new space in Braddock was all about fortunate timing. Having begun Studebaker metals out of his father’s basement in East Pittsburgh, Studebaker and Catalano realized they needed a larger space after receiving a large order. 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, Real Estate Director for MVI.

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

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

“Because Braddock was once its own industrial community, it has a different vibe than other nearby boroughs,” said Studebaker. “I am excited about the progress that the community has made and am excited to be part of the movement.”

Studebaker remembers what Braddock Avenue looked like fifteen years ago and commented that it is nice to see how much can be accomplished when a group of people work together, such as this $1.65 million restoration project at the Free Press Buildings. As MVI lines up businesses to fill the commercial spaces in the buildings, Studebaker Metals is part of the 28,000 square feet restored to the tax rolls through this renovation.

Most days, one will find Studebaker and Catalano, along with their two employees, hard at work at 538 Braddock Avenue. From outside the shop, one can hear the jewelry being created in their workspace. Inside their showroom at 534 Braddock Avenue, 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.

On Friday, October 30, at 10:00 a.m., Studebaker will speak at a Ribbon Cutting for the Free Press Buildings directly outside their storefront windows. In attendance will be HUD Pittsburgh Field Office Director, Jane Miller, Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald, Braddock Council President, Tina Doose, and Mon Valley Initiative Chief Executive Officer, Laura Zinski, among other project partners.


About the Mon Valley Initiative

The Mon Valley Initiative (MVI) is a 501(c)(3) grass-roots coalition comprised of 10 Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and representing twelve municipalities in the Monongahela Valley, all working together to revitalize the economy and to restore the economic vitality of the Mon Valley. MVI’s four program areas are: Housing & Real Estate Development, Business & Workforce Development, Housing Counseling, and Community Outreach.


Media Contact:
Patrick Shattuck, Real Estate Director
pshattuck@monvalleyinitiative.com | 412-464-4000 x.4013


Mon Valley Initiative