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Pittsburgh URA Selects McCaffery and Rubino to Redevelop Landmark Strip District Property; Drury Plans New Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh

19 Sep 2014, 1:09 am

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

The city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority has approved a new plan for the revitalization of the Pennsylvania Railroad Fruit Auction & Sales terminal building in the Strip District.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, the revised project involves two firms, McCaffery Interests Inc. of Chicago as lead developer and the local Rubino team as co-developer.

The board will now enter into negotiations with both companies, which have come up with very different redevelopment proposals for the property. McCaffery’s project includes 118 apartments, live-work space and 35,000 square feet of retail, while Rubino’s plan calls for the construction of a giant public marketplace throughout the building’s 1,533-foot length.

The URA has also rescinded its agreement with the Buncher Co., the original developer of the terminal.

Buncher’s intention was to tear down the western third of the building to extend 17th Street to the Allegheny River and build the $450 million Riverfront Landing residential and office development around the warehouse.

The developer however encountered resistance from preservationists, who opposed the idea of demolishing the city’s landmark historic property.

The company was leasing the building from the URA and had an option to acquire it for $1.8 million. It eventually received $640,000 to end its involvement in the proposed redevelopment project.

In other news, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports that Drury Hotels is planning to turn the former Federal Reserve building on Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh into a new 206-key hotel.

According to Kevin Whitfield, the senior vice president of design, development and construction for Drury, work on the $30 million project would begin early next year and be complete by mid-2016.

“We like working in the urban core,” Whitfield told the city’s planning commission. “These are challenging projects but we embrace it.”

Drury intends to convert the property’s vaults into banquet rooms and build a rooftop deck and swimming pool on the top of the historic building, which dates back to the 1930s.

The company is seeking to register the structure with the National Park Service, which would both protect the property’s most historically significant features and make it eligible for 20 percent historic tax credits.

To read more about the challenges of converting urban historic buildings into hotels, click here.

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons



Penguins, Local Officials Reach Major Redevelopment Deal for Ex-Civic Arena Site

11 Sep 2014, 4:03 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

The Pittsburgh Penguins hockey club has reached an agreement with the City to redevelop the 28-acre site of the now-demolished Civic Arena, the team’s former home in the Hill District.

A controversial topic for years, the deal was announced at a press conference held on September 9. It provides for affordable housing and minority participation in the project, as well as neighborhood reinvestment.

Plans call for 1,100 housing units, with McCormick, Baron and Salazar as the lead residential developer, 500,000- to 600,000-square feet of office space and another 250,000 square feet of retail space, mostly neighborhood serving and complementary to the arena.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one of the main components of the agreement is a tax increment financing plan that will generate between $22 million and $50 million for the redevelopment of the Hill and adjacent Uptown area, the largest TIF district by territory in the city’s history.

Property tax growth from the revitalization of the Lower Hill will be used to improve six other neighborhoods: the Bluff, Crawford Roberts, Terrace Village, the Middle Hill, Bedford Dwellings and the Upper Hill.

The financing plan will now go before the City Council, the Pittsburgh Public School board and the Allegheny County Council for approval. The collaboration also includes the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Sports & Exhibition Authority (SEA).

Furthermore, under the recently finalized agreement, the percentage of affordable housing was set at 20 percent, while minority and women’s business participation in the arena redevelopment was set at 30 percent and 15 percent, respectively—the highest in the city’s history.

Officials have also announced a one-year extension on the initial development plan the Pittsburgh Penguins established with the SEA, in which the team was required to buy 10 percent of the 28 acres by the end of the year. The Penguins now have until next October to do so.

Beyond the revitalization of the surrounding neighborhoods and the creation of additional jobs and housing, the redevelopment project holds an important historic significance, since it will reconnect the Hill District to downtown Pittsburgh, a tie that was lost when the Civic Arena was built in the 1960s.

Construction on the project’s residential component is scheduled to begin within the next six to nine months. Upon completion, the affordable housing units are expected to rent for as low as $600 per month.

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons



North Shore Place II in Pittsburgh Signs First Office Tenant; Buncher No Longer Involved in Redeveloping Strip District’s Produce Terminal

4 Sep 2014, 1:57 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

North Shore Place II, which is part of the new 120,000-square-foot mixed-use development between PNC Park and Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, has landed its first office tenant.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, Continental Office Environments has announced it would occupy 13,000 square feet of space at the soon-to-be-completed complex. Currently located at the Waterfront in Homestead, the company is an affiliated firm of the project’s developer, Continental Real Estate Cos. of Columbus. It is also Western PA’s exclusive dealer for the well-known furniture designer Herman Miller.

“Pittsburgh remains a critical market for us and we are in a growth mode. This new office, close to the urban core and heartbeat of the city, will allow us to not only more fully integrate our employees into downtown Pittsburgh, but will provide an opportunity to showcase the innovative products and solutions we offer. The space is truly an example of practicing what we preach,” said Continental Office Environments CEO Ira Sharfin.

The new office will offer a dynamic, studio environment focusing on interactive and collaborative spaces, highlighted by touch screens and hands-on experiences.

Construction on the two companion mixed-use buildings called North Shore Place I & II began last year.

So far, the project’s developer has announced three first-floor restaurant tenants for the complex, including Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, Burgatory, North Park Lounge and Cabana Bar.

In other news, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Buncher Co. will no longer be involved in the redevelopment of the Produce Terminal along Smallman Street in the Strip District.

Instead, the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority will vote to select one of the three developers that offered proposals for the project—the Ferchill Group of Cleveland, McCaffery Interests of Chicago or Rubino Partners of Pittsburgh.

Buncher’s original plan was to demolish the western third of the 1,533-foot-long terminal to extend 17th Street to the Allegheny River and build the $450 million Riverfront landing residential and office development around the warehouse. Preservationists, however, opposed the idea of demolishing the city’s historic property.

New plans from the three developers call for the construction of portals through the terminal as a means of reaching the river.

Ferchill and McCaffery’s development proposals include residential space, with a smaller retail and office component, while Rubino intends to build a giant marketplace filled with farmers, Amish vendors and businesses specializing in close-out merchandise.

Photo credits: Continental Office Environments



Major Multifamily Projects in Pittsburgh Receive $90M Financing through Huntington Bank

27 Aug 2014, 9:35 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

As part of a public-private neighborhood revitalization effort, two major mixed-use apartment developments in Pittsburgh have received a total of $90 million in loans through Huntington Bank’s commercial real estate division.

Slated to rise in the city’s East End and Southside, the new projects by Oxford Development Company and The Mosites Company will bring a combined 477 multifamily housing units.

The Mosites Company has received $70 million for Eastside III, the final phase of a 16-acre master-planned project that will connect the Shadyside and East Liberty neighborhoods.

Developed in a joint venture with Morgan Management, Eastside III will be built across six acres of land at Highland and Penn avenues. Plans call for three buildings totaling 360 apartments, 554 parking spaces and 43,000 square feet of retail.

The project is also benefiting from new market tax credits, public-private financial support through the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Port Authority of Allegheny County, and additional funding through the first-ever use of the Commonwealth’s Transit Revitalization Investment District program.

“Our goal is to create a convenient place to live,” developer Steve Mosites said of the 24-hour neighborhood that will sit atop the Pittsburgh Busway and integrate with a new $52 million multi-modal East Liberty Transit Center. “Huntington understands our vision for building community in the larger sense. Their support continues to be a vital part of our success.”

Meanwhile, Oxford Development Company has received a $20 million construction loan for Hot Metal Flats in Pittsburgh’s South Side Works. The 117-unit, five-story apartment building will feature an integrated 96-stall parking garage and will include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom rentals with views of the city, river and/or south-side slopes.

“We continue to see a tremendous amount of multifamily construction in Pittsburgh and in markets across our footprint as the economy improves and with increased desire by young professionals and empty-nesters to live, work and play in urban settings,” said Huntington Senior Vice President and Commercial Real Estate Regional Manager Dave Tetrick. “New developments and office-to-apartment conversions typically funded by multiple public and private sources are proving to be real wins for many cities.”

The residential occupancy rates across the downtown Pittsburgh region are currently above 95 percent. According to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, nearly 2 million square feet of office space in this part of the city were converted to mostly apartments or hotels, since 2011. Residential growth in the downtown area was of 40.9 percent between 2000 and 2010, and of 10.5 percent between 2010 and 2013.

Photo credits: Oxford Development Company



Officials Unveil Major Brownfield Redevelopment Project at Pittsburgh International Airport

22 Aug 2014, 4:20 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

A public private partnership involving Pennsylvania, Allegheny County and the Allegheny County Airport Authority is planning the construction of an international trade center complex right next to Pittsburgh International Airport.

Slated to rise on a brownfield site of about 195 acres, the new Pittsburgh International Airport World Trade Center is envisioned to include over one million square feet of Class A office space, 90,000 square feet for research and development and a 400-room hotel with convention space. There will also be land available for up to six corporate hangars which will allow a corporate user to locate its headquarters building and its corporate hangar in the same business park.

The development is estimated to generate $250 million in private investment and lead to the creation of 7,000 direct and indirect jobs, and more than 1,200 construction jobs.

Gov. Tom Corbett officially unveiled the project on August 14, when he also announced a total of $7 million in state grants that would offset site remediation and infrastructure costs.

“Pennsylvania’s industries of the past have created opportunities for state and local leaders to work together to transform oft-neglected land into useable, productive centers of business, recreation and commerce,” said Gov. Corbett. “The Pittsburgh World Trade Center will be a beacon for travelers, businesses and workers alike and will serve as an economic engine for the region, generating new tax revenues and creating thousands of new jobs.”

Located off Interstate 376 at the western end of the runways, the site is part of an overall foreign trade zone around the airport that enables companies to benefit from favorable customs treatment.

A former coal mine and area used to dump municipal waste, the land is not generating any tax revenue to the state and local economy. Upon completion of the project, the coal mines and mine spoil will be removed, a new road will be installed, grading will be completed and a new pathway will be provided for the Montour Trail connection to the airport.

Photo credits: Pittsburgh International Airport







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