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Oxford Development Plans 20-Story Office Tower in Downtown Pittsburgh

13 Aug 2014, 4:05 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Oxford Development Co. is planning the construction of a new office high-rise in downtown Pittsburgh.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the 20-story eco-friendly tower known as 350 Fifth will replace an existing vacant building the developer owns on the west side of Smithfield Street, between Forbes and Fifth avenues.

Oxford’s former plans for the site at 441 Smithfield called for either a $40 million renovation of the existing facility, or a new 33-story tower, for which the company was unable to secure an anchor tenant.

The new project will offer 521,000 square feet of space at an estimated cost of between $190 million and $200 million. Besides the office component, the building’s additional features will include street level retail and restaurant space, an 18-foot-high lobby and underground parking for more than 100 vehicles.

The floor utilization rate for the office space will be around 92 percent, higher than the average of 76 to 80 percent in other Class A buildings in the Pittsburgh market.

Tenants will be able to opt for open floor plans and utilize a raised floor system that has the capacity of storing data and telecommunications cables, along with heating and air conditioning components.

The timing for Oxford’s 350 Fifth project is right, since the Class A office vacancy rate in downtown Pittsburgh is less than 7 percent, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank research data shows.

Gerry McLaughlin, Newmark Grubb executive managing director, told the newspaper that the downtown Pittsburgh market is “as ripe as it’s ever been in the past 10 to 15 years” for new office construction.

Other office developments currently under construction in the same area of the city include the 33-story Tower at PNC Plaza that PNC Financial Services Group is building on Wood Street and the 18-story, $103 million Gardens at Market Square mixed-use complex Millcraft Investment is building on Forbes Avenue.

Photo credits: www.350fifthpittsburgh.com

A.M.O. Management’s Modular Apartments in Oakland Rise in Record Time

6 Aug 2014, 6:49 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

In just a few days, A.M.O. Management assembled a three-story modular building with six new apartments in Oakland.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, the $2.125 million project replaces the company’s former apartment building on Zulema Street which was destroyed by a fire in March 2013.

The property is now ready to welcome tenants again.

Nate Morgan, owner of A.M.O., told the newspaper that the new apartments were difficult to pre-lease because would-be renters would not sign on for a project that was not up yet.

Through the use of the modular construction technique, the developer was able to build the individual apartments and components in a factory in Clarion, and then use a crane to assemble them on the foundation over the course of only three days.

The first unit landed softly to the delight and applause of the onlookers, the company’s blog reports.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” remarked Lindsay, who resides in Robinson and graduated from West Virginia University. “I always thought that building was from the ground up, not the opposite of that.”

Still rare in the region, modular development utilizes green building principles, such as a highly efficient construction process that leaves less waste and delivers energy efficient units, with drastically decreased electric bills.

Expected to appeal to young professionals, the new apartments also feature state-of-the-art keyless entry systems, 46-inch flat screen televisions, a video intercom system, brand new appliances and a fully monitored security system with cameras.

AMO Management’s experience with this type of construction includes 67 modular units at California University. The apartments have experienced almost no maintenance issues since they were built in 2010.

By February or March, AMO is also planning to begin construction on a modular $5.2 million apartment project in downtown Greensburg. Upon completion, the complex will offer 28 units with a total of 57 bedrooms. Rents are expected to range between $650 and $750 per bedroom.

Photo credits: AMO Management


Major Amazon Lease Deal Tightens Pittsburgh’s Industrial Market

30 Jul 2014, 6:21 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Seattle-based Internet giant Amazon.com is planning to expand its network of sortation centers with the opening of a new facility in Pittsburgh’s West End.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, the e-commerce company has signed a long-term lease agreement to occupy more than 200,000 square feet of space in the former Roomful Express warehouse at 2250 Roswell Drive near Crafton.

“The Amazon building at 2250 Roswell Drive in Pittsburgh is part of a new Amazon network of sortation centers,” Nina Lindsey, a company spokeswoman, told the newspaper. “At sort centers, customer orders are sorted by final destination and consolidated onto trucks for faster delivery.”

Amazon will join established tenant ModCloth in the 550,000-plus-square-foot building, bringing it to full occupancy. Rugby Realty Co. Inc. of New Rochelle, N.Y. is the owner of the property, which it purchased in 2011 for nearly $7.4 million.

Both Amazon and Rugby Realty are now planning to invest millions to accommodate operations at the new sort center, which is expected to employ about 100 people.

Upon completion, the facility will serve the immediate area and nearby regions, enabling the delivery of items within 24 hours of purchase.

With the signing of the Crafton lease, Amazon has taken a significant portion of industrial space off the region’s limited market.

“We’re at a crossroads in so far as we don’t have an inventory of Class A industrial space,” Rick O’Brien, senior vice president for industrial and logistics in the Pittsburgh office of Jones Lang LaSalle, told the Pittsburgh Business Times. “The question is does the local development community believe that they’re missing an opportunity, and if so, will they begin to develop larger industrial speculative buildings?”

According to the 2014 mid-year report released by Integra Realty Resources, the vacancy rate for class A industrial space in the Pittsburgh region was about 4.5 percent, while flex industrial vacancy stood at about 8.5 percent.

Photo credits: Point2 Homes via Google Maps

Ambling University Development Plans Major Apartment Community in Pittsburgh

24 Jul 2014, 2:12 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

One of the largest new multifamily developments in Pittsburgh could soon rise between Fifth and Forbes avenues in Oakland.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, Ambling University Development Group, LLC (AUDG) is planning the construction of a 389-unit apartment community at 3333 Forbes Ave., on the former Allegheny Health Department property.

The site is currently owned by MWK Forbes, LLC. The company’s previous plans for the land called for the construction of apartments, offices and a lodging facility. MWK Forbes now intends to sell the property for the apartment component and develop only the hotel, which entails an investment of about $20 million.

AUDG’s project, which will require two special exceptions due to the height and floor-area limits, could cost between $70 million and $100 million to develop. The city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment is expected to review the proposal on July 31.

If approved, the new apartment complex, which will cater to young adults, could be complete in 2016.

Georgia Petropoulos, executive director of Oakland Business Improvement District, says the business membership of her organization welcomes the development.

“My business district is very supportive of that project. They’re waiting for it to be developed,” she told the newspaper. “It’s going to be a pretty big development on that part of Forbes Avenue that we haven’t seen in decades.”

Based in Valdosta, Ga., 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.

According to the 2014 midyear report released by Integra Realty Resources, Pittsburgh’s multifamily market is quite strong.

In recent years, apartment vacancy rates have declined in the region, while rents have continued to grow.

A substantial amount of new construction now aims to absorb the area’s pent-up demand. In the city, there are 800 apartments under construction, while another 3,800 units are in the planning stages. In the suburbs, more than 2,000 units are currently being built, while another 2,000 are in the planning stages.

Photo credits: Wikipedia Commons

Michael Baker International, F.N.B. Corporation Establish Headquarters in Pittsburgh

16 Jul 2014, 6:34 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Engineering and consulting services firm Michael Baker International will be relocating its global corporate headquarters from Moon Township to downtown Pittsburgh by the end of this year.

The company has signed a ten-year lease to occupy 22,000 square feet of space on the top two floors of the iconic BNY Mellon Center at 500 Grant Street.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, Dan Adamski, a managing director in the Pittsburgh office of Jones Lang LaSalle, represented Michael Baker International in its search for the new headquarters, which will host about 65 employees.

“They definitely wanted to be in trophy space downtown, giving that it will be a client-facing office,” Adamski told the newspaper.

Scheduled to occur in December, the move will accommodate the company’s growth, which has reached more than $1.3 billion in annual revenue and more than 5,000 employees working from over 90 offices across the world.

In Pittsburgh, Baker has been involved in hundreds of major development projects, including the Fort Pitt Tunnel, the Squirrel Tunnel or the infrastructure throughout the stadium and convention center areas.

“We take immense pride in our company’s involvement in Pittsburgh infrastructure growth over the last 75 years and we are excited to reaffirm our commitment to the area and city through this relocation,” Michael Baker International CEO, Kurt Bergman, said in a news release.

The company also plans to maintain its Moon Township production office, which currently hosts 350 employees.

In other news, F.N.B. Corporation, parent company of First National Bank of Pennsylvania, has formally named Pittsburgh as its corporate headquarters.

According to the company’s announcement, customers and employees will not be impacted by the selection of the new headquarters, a regional office the bank opened on the North Shore in 2004. F.N.B. will maintain its operations center and support areas in the Hermitage campus, which has benefited from a $15 million investment in recent years, while the bank’s charter will remain in Greenville, Mercer County, where it was established 150 years ago.

“Naming Pittsburgh as F.N.B. Corporation’s official headquarters is a logical progression in our evolution as a regional financial services organization,” stated Vincent J. Delie, Jr., president and CEO of F.N.B. Corporation. “Pittsburgh currently serves as the headquarters for our Wealth and Insurance lines of business, and its close proximity to Hermitage permits us to recruit effectively for both locations. This broadens our pool of potential employees, allowing us to choose from among the top financial professionals in the country to support our continued expansion.”

Photo credits: Derek Jensen via Wikipedia Commons

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