Two years after code violations forced it to shut down, the Pittsburgh punk venue 222 Ormsby is fighting to come back.
The DIY space located at 222 Ormsby Ave. in Mount Oliver was infamous along the East Coast from the mid-2000s through the mid-2010s for hosting bands like The Menzingers, Suicide Machines, and Bomb The Music Industry!, to name just a few. However, like most house venues that aren’t properly sanctioned, the place eventually racked up enough code violations by the Mount Oliver borough to close its doors a few years back.
But in August 2018, Dave Issod, a Pittsburgh transplant who moved here in 2010 for grad school, bought 222 Ormsby shortly after it went on the market.
“Nobody knows who I am, and I’m okay with that, in a sense,” he says.
“Being on the same level with the bands, and just that feeling of being connected with these people when I felt so disconnected from everyone at my high school, or whatever it was. The importance of space is huge,” he says.
Given his familiarity with owning properties, Issod figured he was well-versed enough to undertake the acquisition. And furthermore, he could prevent the property from falling into the hands of outside developers.
However, on March 15, he received a “notice of zoning violation” from borough manager Rick Hopkinson.
In part, the letter read, "It has come to my attention that the basement of 222 Ormsby is currently being used to host bands, as evidenced in various Facebook postings and resident complaints which is inconsistent with your approved use."
The venue was approved with the classification of "studio, art, photography, or music." The letter states that hosting bands "more closely aligns with the 'bar/nightclub' use classification."
It continues, "a 'bar/nightclub' is not a permitted use in a residential mixed-use district. Therefore, you must discontinue all activities that violate your approved use."
"We are currently working on sound-proofing and obtaining a parking area nearby," Issod wrote to CP in an email. "So I hope the borough may see these efforts as well and allow 222 to continue to operate. "
No matter what the outcome ends up being, Issod stresses that he wants 222 Ormsby to maintain its original character and continue to operate in accordance with
“I’m not trying to hurry that process because I think that will most definitely land me with the wrong type of people. I want to work with some people to see their commitment enough to see that they don’t see it as a spot for them to try and rip off bands or to get rich themselves. I’m not trying to get anyone in there to mess it up.”
The first 222 Ormsby show since