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Historic Wabash Bridge piers on the Monongahela River sold to anonymous buyer

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Two historic bridge piers along the Monongahela River have new owners for the first time in 44 years. The Wabash Bridge piers were recently sold by AJ Pantoni, director of industrial services for Hanna Langholz Wilson Ellis, Hanna Commercial Real Estate, for more than $300,000 in cash.

“It’s been exciting to work through the process,” Pantoni said. “When I step back and kind of think about it, I think, ‘Wow, I sold a Pittsburgh landmark.’ It’s kind of cool.”

The masonry structures rise about 45 feet into the air and include spiky-looking poles on top. On Saturday morning, crews will remove Hanna’s “for sale” sign, though it’s unclear what will happen next. Pantoni isn’t able to disclose details like who bought the piers or what they’ll do with them, but said it was a quick process.

“I call it a Shark Tank moment. They just basically said, ‘Here’s the offer, you have 15 minutes to let us know.’ And then the [family trust selling the piers] said, ‘We’re going to take that offer,’” Pantoni said.

The Wabash Bridge and accompanying tunnel under Mt. Washington were built between 1902 and 1904, but the bridge was demolished in the 1940s. Since then, the piers served as a place to moor boats, but have been largely left untouched. The tunnel still serves as an HOV tunnel, and is owned by Pittsburgh Regional Transit.

Throughout the more than two-year process of selling the piers, Pantoni said he heard a number of ideas, including making the structures a public art space or a climbing wall. He also received a press release from Pittsburgh-based restaurant chain Primanti Bros., who said they were considering purchasing the pair for a future “Piermanti Bros” location — but it’s likely an early April Fools Joke.

“Nothing beats the classic fresh flavor of mud-bottom-Mon seafood,” the release said, attributing “Adam Golomb, Primanti Bros. new Chief Executive Officer and Maritime Architecture Chairman.”

As an industrial broker, Pantoni said he’s excited he had the opportunity to sell the piers and wishes he could say he was “going to Disneyland,” but will continue to sell properties like warehouses and other manufacturing-related spaces. He said he’s looking forward to what’s next for the piers.

“It’s a complete mystery,” Pantoni said. “No idea of what we may see here down the road.”

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community.