Improv Renews at The Waterfront


By Tim Schooley, Pittsburgh Business Times

November 14, 2017

The Pittsburgh Outpost of the Improv Comedy Club is gearing up for an expansion after its ownership inked a renewal to continue what's been a 15-year run at the Waterfront.

The national comedy club chain's ownership, Levity Entertainment Group, reached a deal for a new long-term lease for Pittsburgh Improv, renewing its commitment as an entertainment anchor at the complex, along with establishing a plan for what was described as a multimillion-dollar renovation for the local facility. 

The comedy club opened when the Waterfront was first developed in 2002 and draws in 75,000 visitors each year.

Marty Sweeney, senior vice president of M & J Wilkow, a joint venture owner of the Waterfront, expects attendance at the Improv to increase significantly after it undergoes a full renovation and expansion.

Look for a top-to-bottom renovation of the Improv, which will close starting next July, when the 8,000-square-foot operation is slated to get a new kitchen, a new outdoor bar and patio, as well as a theater expansion, Sweeney said.

Sweeney said that Levity hopes to expand a theater that seats 180 people now to get as close to 300 seats as possible.

"They'll completely renovate the inside with the goal of expanding the number of seats in the theater so they can bring in a higher caliber of talent," he said. "Their ability to bring in top talent is tied to the number of seats they have."

Robert Hartmann, CEO of LEG, described the success of the Pittsburgh Improv as tremendous in a prepared statement. 

Noting that the new renovation plan includes a joint investment by the landlord and the Improv, Sweeney expects the Improv's decision to stay another 10 years and renovation at the Waterfront solidifies the property's entertainment offerings.  He added that entertainment has become a key component for shopping centers in an age when shoppers can buy most things online.

"All we need next is live music, which we're working on," he said.