Thirty-six years after fire signaled the beginning of the end of the then-popular Beverly Hills Hotel on Babcock Boulevard in Ross, work is under way to transform the 3.9-acre site into an electrical contracting business.
Employees of Allegheny City Electric began work last week at the site, establishing basic electric service so renovations can begin. New owner Michael J. Septak, who lives in Ross, plans to move his business there from its location on Woodland Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Marshall-Shadeland neighborhood.
approved an application for conditional use and a site plan for the property, located at 3083 Babcock Boulevard, on May 9.
Septak plans to demolish part of the old hotel and restaurant, a local hot spot in the 1960s, and add a garage to the rear of the building, which faces Evergreen Avenue. Allegheny City Electric has 12 employees.
He purchased the site in November for $170,000 dollars and settled several liens against the property, according to Ross Commissioner Peter A. Ferraro.
“It’s something that’s been on my radar for 20 plus years, a thorn in my side,” he said. “Anybody willing to transform an eyesore like that brings a smile to my face.”
For decades, Ross commissioners battled with the property’s former owner, the late Constance Costa Schaefer of Bellevue, who rebuilt part of the five-story hotel and restaurant after the fire. After the business closed in the 1980s, the building was partially boarded up and the property became overgrown by weeds, shrubs and trees.
For the remainder of her life, Costa Schaefer envisioned returning the hotel and nightclub to its former grandeur. When it became clear that was not going to happen, Ferraro said he and his fellow commissioners tried a different approach.
“We even tried to have the building condemned, but to my dismay, our engineer told us it was structurally on solid footing,” he said.
Ferraro said he believes the saga of conflict over the embattled site finally is over.
“I’m very encouraged now, and this new business will be an asset to the community,” he said.