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Alco Parking Owner Plans New Office Complex on Pittsburgh’s North Shore; Highwoods Properties, Soffer Organization Unveil Major SouthSide Works Office Project

15 Oct 2014, 4:49 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Alco Parking president Merrill Stabile is planning a major office development and parking garage on the land he owns behind PNC Park on Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, plans call for the construction of two, 11-story glass towers offering a total of 600,000 square feet of Class A office space. The buildings (of 250,000 square feet and 350,000 square feet, respectively) would rise atop a new five-story, 1,227-space parking structure. The site of the new development is currently used for parking, with enough spaces for a maximum of 400 vehicles.

Kim Clackson, senior vice president of CBRE, is marketing the project, which would only be built with a signed anchor tenant. This should not be a problem, according to Stabile.

“We think the market is right. I think over the next two to three years there are enough potential users that one of them would be interested in a site with such a high profile and so many amenities,” he told the newspaper.

In other news, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Raleigh, N.C.-based Highwoods Properties has partnered with the Soffer Organization for the development of four office buildings within the 34-acre SouthSide Works complex in Pittsburgh. The entire project would bring a total of 400,000 square feet of office and retail space.

Construction on the first building, a 158,000-square-foot glass office structure on the Monongahela riverfront, next to Hofbrauhaus restaurant, is expected to begin as soon as an anchor tenant is secured for at least a portion of its space. Upon completion, the six-story facility will offer 30,000-square-foot floor plates, terraces, an 8,000-square-foot restaurant, locker rooms, bike storage, a 72-space parking garage, as well as direct access to the waterfront park, trails and marina.

The rest of the project will be built upon demand.

In downtown Pittsburgh, Highwoods Properties also owns the iconic PPG Place and EQT Plaza.

“We’re looking to expand our footprint here in Pittsburgh. We’re excited about Pittsburgh. We’re a developer by background, so this gives us an opportunity to develop what we see as very high-quality office space,” Andy Wisniewski, Highwoods vice president in Pittsburgh, told the newspaper.

Photo credits: (1) Artist’s rendering of the North Shore Office Complex by Merrill Stabile in Pittsburgh; (2) Highwoods Properties via www.post-gazette.com

Click here to read our most recent multi-family market snapshot for Pittsburgh.

October Development’s $20M Hotel and Apartment Project in Pittsburgh Receives $3M Economic Growth Initiative Grant

9 Oct 2014, 6:59 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

A $20 million redevelopment project centered around the renovation of the former ARC House building on Pittsburgh’s North Side will result in a new 120-key Comfort Inn by Choice hotel, a 300-space parking garage and a 36-unit apartment building.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, Gov. Tom Corbett has announced a $3 million Economic Growth Initiative grant that would support the new development, which is slated to rise along a two-acre stretch of East Ohio Street in Historic Deutschtown. The area, which includes 20 parcels, is an active junction for nearby Interstate 279 and Route 28 and serves as a gateway location for all of the city’s North Side neighborhoods.

A team led by locally based October Development and assisted by the North Side Leadership Conference has yet to determine the project’s construction start.

The redevelopment of the historic 20,000-square-foot bank building has in fact been in the planning stages for about five years.

“It’s an incredibly important site for the Deutschtown neighborhood and for the North Side as a whole. It’s about remaking that entry point. Right now, what you see is a beautiful but vacant bank building and a bunch of empty lots and vacant and decaying structures. It’s not what the North Side is,” Mark Fatla, executive director of the North Side Development Conference (NSLC), told the newspaper.

Design and financing for the project are yet to be finalized, as are the agreements with other development partners. North Side Community Development Fund, a subsidiary of the NSLC, is one of the funding providers for the new development.

“This investment will continue our mission of making the city of Pittsburgh a premier, worldwide destination,” Corbett said in a press statement. “Bringing people and jobs to the Northside area will ensure that we can continue to build a stronger city and state.”

Other grants recently awarded by Gov. Corbett include $30.7 million for United States Steel Corp.’s $187 million investment in its Mon Valley Works operations in Braddock, as well as $4 million for the revitalization of the former Saks department store building on Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh.

Photo credits: LoopNet

Local Civic Groups Trigger Eleventh-Hour Deal to Save Pittsburgh’s August Wilson Center for African American Culture

3 Oct 2014, 4:32 am

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Just as a trial was getting under way in the protracted dispute over the future of the debt-ridden August Wilson Center for African American Culture in downtown Pittsburgh, a soon-to-be-formed nonprofit foundation reached a multi-party settlement to buy the property for $8.49 million.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, court-appointed receiver Judith Fitzgerald agreed to retract a previous deal with court-approved high bidder 980 Liberty Partners LP of New York and enter a new agreement with the URA-supported rival bid for the purchase of the property. The new proposal was advanced by a consortium of local civic groups led by the Pittsburgh Foundation, who plans to fully re-establish the center.

The New York developer had bid $9.5 million to construct a 10-story luxury hotel on top of the building, while providing a limited free space for the museum. Government officials however turned down the offer, saying that the building must be used exclusively as an African American cultural center, as per the deed covenants.

Last year, Dollar Bank filed an action with the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, seeking to have the property sold at sheriff sale. The bank claims the center is nearly $8 million in default of its mortgage.

“I am very pleased that through collaboration among the city, Allegheny County, our foundation community and Dollar Bank we reached a settlement today that preserves the future of the August Wilson Center as a place to celebrate African-American culture. In Pittsburgh, we work together to solve our problems, and that is what we did here to preserve this vitally important asset,” Mayor William Peduto said in a prepared statement.

Named in honor of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who grew up in the city’s Hill District, the August Wilson Center opened in 2009. It offers multiple exhibition galleries, a 486-seat theater for performances in all genres, an education center for classes, lectures and hands-on learning, as well as dazzling spaces for community programs and events. A significant portion of the $40 million cost of the project was financed through public and private foundations.

Photo credits: www.perkinswill.com

Plans Move Forward for Ambling University’s Major Apartment Community in Pittsburgh; A.R. Building to Begin Construction on 120-Unit Multifamily Project in Baldwin

24 Sep 2014, 7:19 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

One of the largest new apartment developments in the history of Pittsburgh’s Oakland district will soon rise on the former Allegheny County Health Department property.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, the city’s Planning Commission has approved the demolition of the old structure at 3333 Forbes Ave., as well as the design of the upcoming 389-unit Skyvue apartment community.

Valdosta, Ga.-based Ambling University Development Group is planning to invest between $75 million and $80 million in the 13-story development. Massaro Corp. will build the project, which will have a terraced structure of more than 500,000 square feet.

Plans call for a mix of studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom units, as well as street-level retail on both Fifth and Forbes avenues, 286 parking spaces (275 of which will be assigned to residents, while the remaining 11 will be set aside for retail use) and 132 spaces for bike parking.

Construction on the project is expected to begin early next year and be complete by the end of 2016.

Ambling University Development Group specializes in student housing projects. The company’s experience within the past decade includes 63 campus developments with over 35,000 beds.

A 291-bed facility for West Virginia State University in West Virginia and the 622-bed Flats at West Village (pictured) for the University of Virginia in Charlottesville are among the firm’s latest development projects.

In other news, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports that local apartment developer A.R. Building Co. is about to break ground on a 120-unit multifamily project in Baldwin.

The Seven Fields-based company is investing $14 million in the new development, which will include three four-story buildings of 40 apartments each. The yet unnamed complex will rise on a five-acre site near the YMCA on Route 51. It will feature a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments expected to rent for between $1,000 and $1,200 per month.

To read more about Pittsburgh’s multifamily market trends, click here.

Photo credits: Ambling University Development Group

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

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