Developer plans to transform vacant Greensburg bank into startup hub

Updated 1 hour ago

A New Jersey developer envisions a long-vacant bank building in downtown Greensburg as a hub for startups.

Ramesh Reddy Ammana bought the Barclay-Westmore­land Trust Co. bank building at auction for $140,000 last month.

He said the 12,000-square-foot building has water damage and other issues from its many years of disuse, but he hopes to start renovations in the spring. He’s done a feasibility study and is in talks with contractors, he said.

The plan is to turn the building into office space for small businesses.

Ammana said he’s been in discussions with CEOs who are looking to set up shop in a place like Greensburg.

Small startups can’t afford rent in big cities for long, Ammana said. Greensburg can provide cheaper rent while retaining the benefits of being close to a metropolitan area such as Pittsburgh, he said.

“I think it will be a big value for that area,” he said. “I did find a lot of potential.”

Ammana is familiar with Western Pennsylvania, having worked for financial services company Stifel-Nicolaus, which has offices in Pittsburgh and Greensburg.

In May 2017, Ammana bought 100 S. Main St. — the site of Stifel-Nicolaus’ Greensburg office — from Greensburg lawyer John Felice for $530,000. He was in town checking out his new purchase when the large bank building across the street caught his eye.

“I thought it would be a great spot for us,” he said.

He got his chance when the building went to the auction block late last year.

Ammana has met with officials from Greensburg and Westmoreland County, who say they’re hopeful about the building’s future.

The county has been trying to attract startup incubators and coworking space for a while, said Greg Daigle, business development officer for Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland.

“We welcome the idea of someone doing that, because there is an under-utilization of that type of space in Westmoreland County,” he said. Pittsburgh has plenty of coworking space, but Westmoreland has fallen behind, he said.

“(Ammana) has made a big investment in the building,” Daigle said. “He wants to develop it, so we want to see what his plans are.”

Ammana said he plans to bring a few potential tenants to meet with county leaders within the next month or so.

After remaining dormant for more than a decade, the former bank at the corner of South Main and East Pittsburgh changed hands twice in one year.

Nevada-based company National New Builds bought it from Lingsch Properties for $100,000 last spring. Although there was some early talk of developing the site, the company put it up for auction within months.

Greensburg City Planning Director Barbara Ciampini said she’s confident Ammana is planning to stick around and won’t be flipping the building anytime soon.

“He’s definitely looking to make an investment, both for himself and in the city of Greensburg,” she said. “I just hope we can work together to pull it off.”

The bank building was constructed in 1928. Its last tenant, Citizens Bank, closed that location in 2005.

Developers Doug and Mari-Pat Lingsch bought it from Citizens Bank for $258,000 in 2007. Plans to turn it into a science museum were scrapped when the 2008 recession hit.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review
staff writer. You can contact Jacob
at 724-836-6646, or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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