© 2022 90.5 WESA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Owner of James Street venue secures URA loan to help bring live music back

James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy renovation
422 Foreland LLC.
A photo of the James Street building amended with an architectural rendering of the addition

It’s been four years since live music was heard inside the former James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy. The historic building, in the East Allegheny section of the North Side, had hosted live jazz for decades before closing in November 2017 after a series of noise complaints.

But music fans might not have to wait too much longer. Monday, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh closed on a $500,000 loan to the building’s owner, businessman Jonathan Iams, who said he is far along on a $5 million renovation. And Iams said live music could return as soon as next spring, by which time he plans to secure a restaurant for the building’s first floor.

“I am excited to see the building thrive again as a place for the community to enjoy great food, music and art in an architecturally significant building,” said Iams in a statement issued by the office of Mayor Bill Peduto.

The building at corner of Foreland and James streets is 123 years old, and its four spacious stories encompass 18,700 square feet. Renovations include an addition to the building’s rear, said Iams, who bought the structure in 2018 and is renovating it through his company 422 Foreland LLC.

Iams said the offices of his building-design company, Iams Consulting, will occupy the third floor starting in February, when the renovation is scheduled to be complete. The jazz club will occupy the second floor. Iams said he had not yet decided on details of the live-performance programming, thought he said jazz will be the mainstay.

James Street had long been one of the city's key venues for Pittsburgh-based jazz talent.

Iams added the building will include a space for an art gallery dedicated to North Side artists.

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: bodriscoll@wesa.fm
WESA invites you to participate in an audience survey. We’re interested in how you use WESA and what you think of our services. Your responses will help us shape what you hear and read from WESA in the year to come. This is an anonymous survey; it takes about seven minutes to complete and there are several opportunities to provide comments and suggestions. You can take the survey through Tuesday 12/6.