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

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.

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The URA has also rescinded its agreement with the Buncher Co., the original developer of the terminal.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