On Dec. 4, Ron Gaydos began circulating word that he was giving away 4,900 square feet of Pittsburgh to anyone who wanted it: a pair of adjacent buildings in Larimer. Sitting two blocks from East Liberty Boulevard, on Carver Street and Emans Way, they began life as the Gigante Bakery, morphed into the Simple Treat Bakery, and in 1992 were acquired by Gaydos as a woodworking shop for his contracting business.
"I needed some place to fabricate wooden parts for houses," says the 47-year-old Squirrel Hill resident. "All those corbels you see around Victorian houses -- I had to make about 125 of them for one house. I was going to put the things up and the plumber said, 'Ah, you're getting ready to put up all that goofy shit.'"
In 1998, Gaydos' woodworking days ended, when he entered Carnegie Mellon University's H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, receiving his master's degree in 2003. He now works as a project manager for the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, which leaves little time for, well, goofy shit.
Still, why give the place away?
"It's one way of getting things back in commission," Gaydos says. I thought, it's not worth much to me; if I can just get it into somebody's hands who can use it. ... Now I'm getting calls from a bio-tech startup, theater groups, arts groups and a lot of individual artists. I've even been contacted by a school for at-risk youth."
It's a real fixer-upper, he says of the place, which is still zoned for commercial use. "Several people have gone to see it from the outside. If the appearance didn't scare them off, then I know they could handle it. It's ideal for somebody who doesn't have to have it in really finished condition."
Once the utilities are reactivated, he reports, all it needs are a major roof repair in one spot and gutters to make it weatherproof. It also needs new windows (for the ones boarded up), and more windows, if you're a fan of daylight (unlike bakers, say, who work pre-dawn).
"And the taker gets two ovens that have a capacity for hundreds of loaves," Gaydos adds.
The taker also gets an annual tax bill of less than $200; the property is assessed at only $2,100, "mainly because of the exterior appearance," he says.
Gaydos inquired whether the county itself might use it, but he found they couldn't. Does he have an ideal buyer in mind?
"If it's a new city resident, that'd be cool."