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$26M Mixed-Income Housing Project Coming to Larimer and East Liberty

8 Apr 2015, 8:21 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority is set to approve the construction of an 85-unit residential complex in an economically depressed area of Larimer Avenue and East Liberty Boulevard.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the upcoming project, which entails an investment of $26 million, will be developed by St. Louis-based McCormack Baron Salazar.

Plans call for a mix of townhouses and apartments across 18 buildings that will rise on 6.6 acres at the site of the former Liberty Park and Omega Place in East Liberty and the former Auburn Towers location in Larimer. There will be 17 one-bedroom residences, 47 two-bedrooms, 17 three-bedrooms, as well as four four-bedroom units.

The majority of the new homes (56, according to URA documents) will be available to lower-income residents, with rents affordable to households earning no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income. The remaining 29 units will be market-rate rentals.

This project marks the first phase of a broader $400 million neighborhood revitalization strategy in Pittsburgh. The effort is being supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant Pittsburgh received last summer. Only three other cities won a federal grant out of 43 that applied.

This money will be used for the construction of 334 mixed-income rental units in Larimer and East Liberty, which would replace 155 federally subsidized residences that have become obsolete.

Out of the total $26 million needed for the first phase of the development, $5.5 million will be provided through the Choice Neighborhoods program. Meanwhile, the URA may also offer $2.1 million in loans to support the project.

Photo credits: Larimer Consensus Group

Planning Commission Green Lights New U.S. Steel Headquarters in Pittsburgh’s Lower Hill

1 Apr 2015, 3:38 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

The Pittsburgh Planning Commission approved the design and construction of the future U.S. Steel corporate headquarters at the former Civic Arena site in the city’s Lower Hill District.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, the upcoming 285,000-square-foot project, planned by St. Louis-based developer Clayco, will be the first building to go up as part of the area’s redevelopment. The Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Club has master development rights to the cleared 28-acre site, where it plans to build a mix of office, residential, hospitality and retail space over the course of 25 years.

Construction on the office facility is scheduled to begin during the second half of the year and be completed in 24 months. Meanwhile, U.S. Steel’s current lease in the U.S. Steel Tower is set to expire at the end of 2017. The new building will feature five stories of 50,000-square-foot floors, as well as a steel museum and other retail space.

An earlier version of the project, designed by Chicago-based Forum Studio, a Clayco subsidiary, was criticized by some members of the planning commission when it was presented last month.

“There were concerns that were raised about the horizontality of the building and how to break the building down into smaller component pieces to respond more to the desires of the master plan,” Chris Cedergreen, chairman of Forum, told the newspaper. “We listened very carefully and we worked through a lot of different issues and worked very closely with U.S. Steel.”

He added that his firm explored more than 50 different design considerations with U.S. Steel in order to find a solution that worked for both the company and the city’s planning commission. Furthermore, Christopher McKee, president of Clayco Realty Group, noted that there are at least 10 different parties weighing in on the design of the building and that minor adjustments could still be made.

Photo credits: U.S. Steel

Officials Celebrate Groundbreaking of Civic Arena Redevelopment in Pittsburgh

26 Mar 2015, 5:58 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

City, county and state dignitaries marked the official groundbreaking of the road and utility work at the site of the now-demolished Civic Arena in the city’s Lower Hill District. The Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Club has master development rights to the entire 28-acre area, where it plans to build a mix of office, residential, hospitality and retail space.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, the Lower Hill infrastructure project, which would connect downtown to the Hill District, requires an estimated public investment of $61.6 million. An initial $36 million investment will bring a new road connecting the Bedford and Centre avenues across the middle of the site, as well as a portion of a perpendicular second road spanning to Crawford Street.

This first phase of the infrastructure work has been awarded a $15 million state grant through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. It is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2016 and will pave the way for the construction of the new headquarters for U.S. Steel Corp. Developed by Clayco Realty Group, the upcoming five-story building will be located right across from Consol Energy Center on Centre Avenue.

In the 1960s, the construction of the Civic Arena required the demolition of 1,300 buildings and the displacement of more than 8,000 residents and more than 400 businesses. The redevelopment of the site, which entails an overall private investment of $379 million, is now expected to bring a total of 606,000 square feet of office space, 254,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, a 150-room hotel, along with more than 1,100 residential units.

“Fifty years ago, the urban renewal that was done on this site destroyed what was really a nice legacy in a lot of ways. Fifty years later, we’re trying to re-transform this neighborhood and trying to undo some of the problems caused by that urban renewal,” Gov. Tom Wolf said during the ceremony.

Clayco will seek to obtain LEED Silver certification for its new office building, while the Penguins are aiming for a LEED neighborhood ranking for the overall development, which would be a first in the entire state.

Photo credits: www.civicarenaredevelopment.com


Public Subsidy Supports Walnut Capital’s New Residential Project in East Liberty

18 Mar 2015, 7:57 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

The Penn at Walnut on Highland, a new 78-unit apartment and retail complex, will soon rise in the heart of Pittsburgh’s East Liberty business district. Scheduled for completion by summer 2016, the six-story project will replace two small retail buildings with historic facades at the corner of Penn and Highland avenues.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Walnut Capital has recently reached an agreement with the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority to preserve the historic Terra Cotta storefronts in the footprint of the $17 million redevelopment. Under the terms of the deal, the agency will award Walnut Capital a $200,000 grant, along with an $875,000 loan to meet a funding gap prompted by the redesign of the complex, which implies a higher cost and a reduction of the number of proposed apartments by six. The loan, which has a 3.5 percent interest rate, is scheduled to be repaid in 10 years.

Furthermore, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports that, as part of the agreement, community nonprofit East Liberty Development Inc. has agreed to reduce the sales price of the property where the project will be built.

Earlier in December, preservationists criticized Walnut Capital’s plan to completely demolish the old structures to make way for the new development.

The upcoming complex is considered an extension of the developer’s historic rehabilitation of the neighboring Highland Building. Besides a mix of micro one- and two-bedroom apartments, with monthly rents expected to range between $1,179 and $3,508, The Penn at Walnut on Highland will also include about 16,000 square feet of street level retail space.

Photo credits: Walnut Capital Partners

Revitalization of Downtown Pittsburgh Landmark to Bring Retail, Hotel and Apartments

16 Mar 2015, 3:10 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

The iconic Macy’s building in downtown Pittsburgh could soon house a mix of retail, hotel space and high-end apartments.

The Pittsburgh Business Times reports that Core Realty, Inc. is planning to redevelop the 12-story property, which will include a reduction of the retail portion for the established Macy’s department store to the first four floors, a 155-room hotel on the fifth and sixth floors, as well as a residential component with 311 apartments on floors six through 12.

In support of the project, the Philadelphia-based developer is seeking a $10 million state grant through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. The company also intends to buy the 1.2-million-square foot building, the newspaper reports.

If approved, the new hotel will be one of InterContinental Hotels Group’s new Even properties. The brand promotes the concept of a wellness boutique hotel that offers guests a “best-in-class fitness experience,” along with healthy dining options. Other lodging facilities InterContinental operates in Pittsburgh include the new Hotel Monaco by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants downtown and the soon-to-open Hotel Indigo in East Liberty.

The hotel development proposal arrives amid a hotel building boom in Pittsburgh, sustained by the high demand in the city’s downtown hospitality market.

“In general, I think it’s just another sign of how strong the Pittsburgh market is and the lack of rooms in that downtown area,” Chris Rosselot, a principal of downtown-based developer Hotel d2 Services, told the newspaper.

According to Lodging Econometrics data compiled late last year for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, there are 55 hotel projects under development in the Pittsburgh region, totaling 6,012 rooms. This brings the rate of planned rooms relative to existing rooms to 23.6 percent, the third highest in the country.

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

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