This post is adapted from a public letter written by Joseph Hall, executive director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.

On December 29, 2020, the Pittsburgh media announced the recent purchase of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater by Pittsburgh-based McKnight Realty Partners from East Liberty Development Inc. In fact, the company purchased the block—known as the Penn-Highland block—which sits across from East Liberty Presbyterian Church between Highland Avenue and North Whitfield Street.
The Penn-Highland block comprises three buildings, including a corner building that once was home to a May Stern store, the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, and a one-story retail building housing our partner, Gallery on Penn, and the Holland Specialty Shop. We became co-owners of the block nearly 40 years ago as a part of our strategy to stabilize and bring new life to East Liberty’s commercial core. Ever since, we have maintained, nurtured, and improved the Penn Highland assemblage, including restoring the facade to its original grandeur.
In the late fall of 2020, we informed the Kelly Strayhorn Theater of the purchase of the building and facilitated a meeting with Izzy Rudolph, president of development and acquisitions for McKnight Realty Partners before the holidays. In the meeting, Izzy shared his love for East Liberty, his commitment to work with the current tenants, and his desire to preserve historical buildings and the cultural institution that has been a hub for the arts and community in our city since 1914.
Kelly Strayhorn Theater will continue to move forward in providing cultural arts to the city of Pittsburgh in their home in East Liberty. We also helped negotiate a similar continuation of Gallery on Penn’s discounted rent. We thank McKnight Realty Partners for their commitment to preserving culture in the neighborhood and are confident that the Penn-Highland block is in good hands.