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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

144-Key Marriott Residence Inn Coming to Pittsburgh’s Oakland Neighborhood

11 Mar 2015, 4:57 pm

by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

A new extended-stay Marriott Residence Inn hotel may soon rise in the city’s Oakland neighborhood.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, the MWK Forbes II development team led by Gary Wilson, a principal with commercial real estate firm Hanna Langholz Wilson Ellis, is planning to build the 144-room property on Forbes Avenue. The site is located next to the massive Skyvue apartment complex currently under construction. The MWK partnership originally owned the land where it planned to build a hotel, but eventually sold it to Valdosta, Georgia-based Ambling University Development Group.

The upcoming $20 million Marriott Residence Inn is expected to welcome its first guests by the end of 2016. Other partners in the project include designer Tasso Katselas Architects and David Cocco, president of North Star Lodging and Development Inc., who joins MWK after a 30-year career in hotel management.

Massaro Corp., led by David Massaro, who is also a shareholder with MWK, will be the development’s general contractor. The construction company is also building the neighboring 389-unit Skyvue project, which upon completion will feature a mix of studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom homes. Totaling more than 500,000 square feet of space, the new 13-story complex rising at the former site of the Allegheny County Health Department will rank as one of the largest apartment developments by the number of units in this part of Pittsburgh.

The city’s Oakland neighborhood is home to another Marriott Residence Inn-branded property – the Residence Inn Pittsburgh University/Medical Center. Located within a mile of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and the UPMC Hospitals, the hotel offers 174 spacious suites with separate sleeping and living areas, fully equipped kitchens, a fitness center, complimentary breakfast buffet, and other amenities.

Photo credits: www.marriott.com

Faros Properties Acquires Controlling Interest in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Center Office Complex

5 Mar 2015, 3:25 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

The 1.2-million-square-foot office and parking complex at Allegheny Center on the city’s North Side has a new owner.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, New York City-based Faros Properties has recently acquired a controlling interest over the three-building complex and 2,700-space parking garage. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Within the next few weeks, the company will explore its options to identify the best possible use for the property, which it plans to improve.

Previously owned by California-based Allegheny Center Associates, the office complex is currently about 70 percent leased. Tenants include PNC Financial Services Group, which occupies more than 400,000 square feet, local tech firm Expedient and Bank of America, among others. The property dates back to 1965, when it opened as an enclosed mall, with retailers such as Woolworth, Sears and Zayres. By the mid-1990s, most of its stores had left, so it was then converted into office space.

The acquisition marks the first purchase of an office property for Faros in Pittsburgh. The company entered the city’s residential real estate market in November 2012, when it bought the 388-unit I.M. Pei-designed Washington Plaza apartment complex at 1420 Centre Avenue for about $48 million. Later, Faros paid nearly $45 million to acquire the approximately 800-unit Allegheny Center Apartments, perhaps Pittsburgh’s largest multifamily complex, which it renamed Park View. Also last November, the company purchased the 270-unit Carson Street Commons on the South Side. Overall, Faros’ investment in the acquisition and renovation of the three residential properties amounts to more than $175 million.

“We’re very fond of the Pittsburgh market. We like to invest in markets with a high concentration of intellectual capital, smart people and driven people,” Jeremy Leventhal, Faros’ managing partner, told the newspaper.

Photo credits: www.alleghenycenter.com

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