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Downtown & The Cultural District : Development News

464 Downtown & The Cultural District Articles | Page: | Show All

$500,000 boost to historic renovations in Downtown Pittsburgh, grants available to building owners

The renovation of historic buildings in Downtown Pittsburgh has been given yet another boost.  The Colcom Foundation has granted Landmarks Community Capital (LCC) $500,000 to create a loan fund for property owners of historic structures in the Golden Triangle.  The program aims to spur more retail in downtown’s historic buildings.

LCC is the lending subsidiary of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF).  According to PHLF President Arthur Ziegler, the loans are available for borrowing to start a business in a historic building, as well as for storefront and façade improvements.

“It’s for improvements to the physical historic real estate,” Ziegler says.  He adds that the new initiative is designed to work in concert with existing efforts, such as the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Paris to Pittsburgh program, and the URA’s façade improvements program.

LCC will make loans to building owners ranging from $5,000 to $30,000.

Although there are several historic buildings looming tall in Pittsburgh’s skyline, Ziegler says most structures are between two and five stories. 

And downtown’s historic districts, which include the Cultural District and Market Square, may soon be expanded.  Funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historic Museum Commission, Ziegler says PHLF has recently submitted an expanded districts proposal to the National Register.

This new initiative comes on the heels of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s $4 million Downtown Preservation Program, a partnership with PHLF that is restoring seven historic structures in the Wood and Market Street corridors.

For more information about the loans, and to apply, visit LCC's website.



Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Arthur Ziegler

Plan to develop former Saks site downtown includes subterraneous parking, retail, apartments

A new mixed-use development is moving ahead at the former Saks site downtown.  The plan includes 20,000 square feet of retail space, subterraneous parking, and 101 apartment units. 

Developers Millcraft Investments and McKnight Realty Partners, with the Pittsburgh Parking Authority, have entered into an exclusive negotiation period with the URA.  The planned development would demolish the current four-story structure, as well as three smaller structures along Fifth Avenue.

URA Director Robert Rubinstein calls this an exciting project that “magnifies the original concept considerably,” bringing in two developers with a strong track record both in Pittsburgh and nationally.

In addition to underground parking, the development will include several levels of parking, to be located above the retail space, and below the market rate apartments. 

Parking is already in high demand in the central business district, Rubinstein says, and with other neighboring redevelopment projects in the works this structure will help to meet a growing demand.  Other adjacent projects include the Oliver building’s redevelopment into hotel and office space; PNC’s coming use of the former Lord and Taylor building; and the conversion of the Reed Smith and Alcoa buildings into apartments.

Rubinstein says that although a subterranean development in the heart of downtown will be quite expensive, he has the highest level of confidence that the development will take place.

“This is a development team that has done many deals that people thought were impossible,” Rubinstein says.  “They find a creative way to use the various tools that are out there.”

Millcraft Investments is a subsidiary of Millcraft Industries, responsible for several notable projects downtown, including Market Square Place, Piatt Place, and the RiverVue Apartments.  McKnight Realty has previously purchased and converted the former Gimbels building downtown into the Heinz 57 Center, and owns the nearby Grant, Oliver, and Brooks Brothers buildings.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Robert Rubinstein

Eat + Drink: Wild Purveyors Market Stand; Benjamin's Burger Bar; soul food and mobile food

- The Wild Purveyor’s Market Stand is now open in Upper Lawrenceville.  An evolution of the wholesale wild-foods business started by brothers Cavan and Tom Patterson, the market features local Pennsylvania cheeses, meats, and produce, as well as an assortment of seasonally foraged foods.  Currently in stock: chicken of the woods and hen of the woods mushrooms.

And the Second Annual Pittsburgh Picklefest will take place at the market this Saturday.  The event is presented by Crested Duck Charcuterie and Slow Food Pittsburgh.  5308 Butler Street, Lawrenceville.  412-206-WILD.

-  Benjamin’s Western Avenue Burger Bar is scheduled to open tonight in Allegheny West.  The restaurant is operated by Paul Tebbets, co-owner of Toast! in Shadyside, and the former BRiX Wood Fired Wine Bar, which the new restaurant replaces. 

BRiX closed its doors earlier this year after difficulties with a zoning permit for its wood-fired pizza oven.  The burger bar will be similar in concept to BRiX while swapping pizza for burgers.  Benjamin’s is located at 900 Western Avenue in the Northside.

-  Fredrick’s Soul Food is now open Monday through Saturday on Smithfield Street, in Downtown Pittsburgh, serving breakfast at 6:30 a.m.  Fredrick’s specializes in chicken and waffles, ribs and wings, yams, greens, and mac & cheese. 

Fredrick’s is owned by Larry Ross.  Ross says the menu consists of family recipes, and his kitchen staff is headed by his daughters Maya and Seaera.  412-232-1900. 633 Smithfield Street.  6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

-  Sal’s City Deli is opening soon in downtown, and will feature made-to-order sandwiches, fresh salads, and homemade soups.  It will be located at 245 Seventh Street, next to the Benedum Theater in the Cultural District.

-  In addition to locations in East Liberty and Cranberry, BRGR’s gourmet burgers are now available to downtown lunch crowds via The BRGR Food Truck.  From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. it will be parked at Grant Street and Forbes Avenue, Monday through Friday.  It also makes regular appearances in the Strip District, on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 21st Street and Penn Avenue.

-  Another newcomer to Pittsburgh’s mobile food scene is Oh My Grill, a specialty grilled-cheese themed food truck.  724-996-3955.
 
 Click here for more information about food trucks in Pittsburgh.


Writer:  Andrew Moore

Night Market to pop up at Gallery Crawl; vote for People's Choice at Design Exhibit

The Night Market is popping again, bringing food, music and art to a vacant lot in Downtown Pittsburgh.

A component of Project Pop Up Pittsburgh, the market will take place during this week’s Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District.  Bethany Tucke, a project consultant, says the Night Market helps to achieve one of the initaitive's original goals: to activate vacant or underused space.

"The parking lot where we will be hosting the Night Market is a daytime parking lot that operates weekdays only," Tucke says.  "Figuring out a way to pop something up that’s interesting for both residents and visitors to downtown, and giving an opportunity for creative entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their goods in underused space, is exciting."

The list of food vendors has grown to include 10 eateries, including downtown’s Bluebird Kitchen and Conflict Kitchen, as well as BRGR, Reyna’s Tacos, and Smiling Banana Leaf.

Handmade ware vendors include Beads of Light, Best of Bizarre, Creative Customology, Devorah Naturals, Erra Creations, SMD Jewelry, and Tugboat Printshop.

Night Market will be located at 917-919 Liberty Avenue, between Ninth and Tenth Streets, from 7 p.m. to midnight.  But the footprint of the market itself has grown. This Friday’s event will also extend into adjacent Exchange Way, between Ninth Street and Garrison Way.

At the Gallery Crawl the public will also have an opportunity to view nominations for the 2012 Design Pittsburgh awards, and to vote for their pick in the People’s Choice Award.

Design Pittsburgh is presented by AIA Pittsburgh to highlight outstanding architecture and design in the region.  Last year’s People’s Choice Award went to Desmone and Associates Architects for their work at Savoy Restaurant in the Strip District.

The Project Pop Up initiative began last year as a way to animate vacant storefronts and public spaces throughout downtown with the goal of improving safety and economic health.  The project is a program of Mayor Ravenstahl, the URA, City Planning, and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Bethany Tucke; Leigh Ann White

Buildings made of cans? CANstruction 2012 opens to public next week

What would Pittsburgh landmarks look like if they were made of cans?  At this year’s CANstruction event Heinz Field, a giant ketchup bottle and several other iconic structures will be given the tin treatment and it’s all for a good cause.

CANstruction is a national design competition that asks local groups to create buildings and other fantastical structures out of canned food.  Now in its 20th year, the event is a canned food drive for regional food banks.  This is Pittsburgh’s second year participating in the competition.

This Saturday, eight teams will gather downtown at One Oxford Center for the build-out. Beginning Monday, the Can City will be open for public viewing in the building’s lobby, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.  The structures will remain on display through Friday, September 28th.

The public will have a chance to participate by voting for their favorite structure.  Votes are cast by donating a canned food item, or a reusable tote bag.  The people's choice winner will advance to compete in the national contest.

CANstruction is partnering this year with the Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project, as the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank uses these sturdier bags to distribute food to residents in the region.

On Friday a private gala will be held, with judges awarding winners in categories such as structural integrity; best use of labels; people’s choice; and best meal.

CANstruction organizer Anastasia Herk says the judges will determine a best meal winner by looking at what kinds of canned food the structure is made of and whether it would actually make a nutritious meal.

“The food banks want healthy food,” Herk says. “If a structure is made out of a bunch of SpaghettiOs cans, that might not be as appealing to the judges as something that’s made out of beans and spinach.”

One Oxford Center is located at  301 Grant Street, Downtown. 

CANstruction Pittsburgh is an all-volunteer initiative supported by the Pittsburgh design community.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Anastasia Herk

Eat + Drink: Sousa's Harvard and Highland craft cocktails; Lola Bistro; Embury returns, and more

Eat + Drink is a new occasional section of Development News focusing on restaurant and bar happenings in Pittsburgh.

-  Restaurateur Kevin Sousa has announced he will soon open a craft cocktail bar, called Harvard and Highland.  The bar will be located above Union Pig and Chicken, the barbecue restaurant Sousa opened earlier this year, located at 220 North Highland Avenue.

-  Embury, the classic cocktail lounge and speakeasy formerly located in the Firehouse Lounge, will soon reopen on the South Side.  Owner Spencer Warren has purchased the building currently home to Z-Lounge at 2108 E. Carson, and plans to reopen the bar in the top floor space.  It will be similar to the previous establishment which closed last August.

-  Sushi Fuku is celebrating a grand opening in Oakland this week.  The restaurant is a create-your-own sushi establishment, allowing customers to "roll it or bowl it".  In addition to various raw and cooked fish, the menu includes chicken, shrimp, and steak, and also features fresh salads and prepared rolls.  Located at 120 Oakland Avenue, the fast-casual eatery is open 11am to 9pm daily.  412-687-3858.

-  City Café is relocating from Lawrenceville to the Cultural District in Downtown Pittsburgh.  The café will be a breakfast and lunch restaurant, serving coffee and offering vegetarian cuisine, located at 951 Liberty Avenue.  412-621-2460.

-  Lola Bistro is now open in the Northside’s Allegheny West neighborhood at 1100 Galveston Avenue, serving contemporary comfort food.  It replaces the former Hoi Polloi Coffee House and Vegetarian Cafe, which closed over a year ago.  Lola Bistro is owned by Chef Michael Barnhouse and wife Yelena, and is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday.  412-322-1106.


Writer:  Andrew Moore

Market Square 2.0? $4 million Downtown Preservation Project now underway

The Downtown Preservation Project has officially begun, with $4 million in restoration work underway on seven historic structures in the Wood and Market Street corridors.  Arthur Ziegler, President of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF), says this partnership between the mayor's office and a preservation organization is unlike any other in the country.

"I think it's unique in the United States where a mayor sees historic preservation as a primary instrument for economic revitalization and to attract downtown living," he says.

According to Ziegler the impact of historic preservation in downtown is already evident, and he cites the revival of Market Square and Fifth Avenue.  The square and its environs were severely dilapidated when PHLF undertook to restore that area, much like the seven structures currently under renovation are in great need of exterior work.

Ziegler says once the initial investment was made in the square, other investments followed their lead.

"We think that if we can improve these facades and graphics, we will find the same kind of upgrade occurring through the private market," Ziegler says. "The mayor believes in that, and we have proven that it can work, and we think it'll work again."

PHLF is being employed by the City to hire architects, oversee bidding and design, and construction supervision.  Funding for the project comes from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

The project is emphasizing the Wood Street corridor as a women's retailing district, as they had emphasized Market and Fifth for men’s retailing.  Ziegler says that more than 40 businesses have expressed interest in the storefronts, and seven have said they would be ready to move in today if space and deals were available.

Of the three cast iron facades to be restored, three are now owned by PHLF.  The foundation is working with Point Park University to bring student housing to the structures’ upper floors.

Ziegler says the cast iron facades, once produced in foundries throughout the region, create remarkable buildings.  And while its unknown if these particular pieces were produced locally, Ziegler recognizes the material’s resonance in Pittsburgh.

“We’re the city of iron and steel,” he says.  “We have three of these in a row on Wood Street, they are all in very bad shape, and we will take them back to what they looked like originally.”  


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Arthur Ziegler

Pittsburgh launches ARTPGH and DESIGNPGH, first ever comprehensive public art and urban design plans

The City of Pittsburgh has recently launched initiatives to develop the city's first ever comprehensive plans for urban design and public art. The plans--known as DESIGNPGH and ARTPGH--will set guidelines for future development based on the quality and character of design, and create a strategy for the city's public art collection.

The purpose of these plans is to provide predictability in development, not uniformity, says Noor Ismail, director of city planning. "We do not want to stifle creativity," she says, but rather to have development meet a contextual purpose.

Public Art Manager Morton Brown says it would be impossible, and ill advised, to prescribe to Pittsburghers what type of public art should appear in their neighborhoods.

"You want artists to respond to the contexts of each neighborhood,” Brown says.  "And likewise with urban design, not every neighborhoods has the same built character.  We must remain flexible."

The two initiatives are just two of twelve components of PLANPGH, the city’s first ever 25-year comprehensive plan, to be completed in 2014.

Ismail says the city is not interested in reinventing the wheel, and project consultants will sift through and incorporate existing neighborhood plans. The plan will be developed following a variety of community meetings and public workshops.  Brown says the first of several meetings will seek to put community members on equal footing in terms of understanding design concepts.

"Part of it is education and bringing everyone up to a certain vocabulary level so that we can dig deeper into these conversations and learn what are the needs and desires of the community, and how can we serve them through this plan," he says.

Once the process is complete, DESIGNPGH will produce an urban design manual to guide development in the city.

Joy Abbott, assistant director of city planning, says these manuals will aid developers and community groups with a streamlined set of standards for criteria such as aesthetics in new construction, streetscape elements, and contextual design.

"It's going to make it easier for them to understand what the city is looking for in terms of what things look like," Abbott says.  "This is going to supplement our code by showing people with pictures, rather than text, what kinds of projects we're looking for and what the community wants them to look like."

Brown anticipates the first public meeting to be held before the end of the year.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source: Noor Ismail, Morton Brown, Joy Abbott

Perle French-Mediterranean champagne and tapas lounge now open in Market Square

Market Square's latest dining destination, Perle, has made it very easy to celebrate.  In addition to a long list of bottles, the French-Mediterranean tapas lounge has six varieties of champagne on draft.

As the renovated Market Square has quickly filled with restaurants, Perle is offering a new nightlife concept that has been missing from this area of Downtown.

The beige interior features an open ceiling that allows light fixtures to circulate throughout the lounge, a visual ode to champagne’s signature bubbles, or pearls, after which the space is named. 

Along with flutes of champagne, the bar has created a list of champagne cocktails that includes classic recipes with French and Greek liquors, as well as interpretations of drinks like the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, and Gin Twist.

Perle’s small menu has around 20 dishes, including French crepes, and tapas offerings designed for sharing.

Perle is a project of Peter Landis and the Big Y Group, owned by Yves Carreau.  Carreau's other restaurants include NOLA, located just next-door, as well as Seviche, and Sonoma.

Located above Bruegger’s Bagels, at 24 Market Square, Perle features a small open-air balcony that is a first for the square in recent years.  Although too small for tables, guests are able to bring drinks outside and overlook Market Square.

The amenity adds a New Orleans-Bourbon Street feeling, says bar manager Jennifer Welsh, which combined with NOLA’s sidewalk dining enhances the streets overall aesthetic.

Perle opens Wednesday through Saturday at 4 p.m., and closes late (2 p.m.) on weekends.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Jennifer Welsh

PNC Legacy Project unveiled downtown, interactive multimedia history exhibit

While PNC Bank readies the foundation for the world’s greenest skyscraper, they’re quietly opening another structure, the Lantern Building, as a tribute to the region’s banking history.

The new 800-square-foot facility, located at 600 Liberty Avenue, is part of the PNC Legacy Project, a program designed to honor, document and preserve the history of banks that PNC has acquired. 

The exhibit is free to the public, and features interactive multimedia displays that highlight the city’s culture, commerce and community.

Within the exhibit a touchscreen timeline chronicles Pittsburgh’s history from the late 19th century, and features a listening experience using oral histories collected from prominent community leaders, from the Zambelli Brothers to Carol Brown, former executive director of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

David O’Neil, an oral historian and the founder of Story Trust, produced the stories that tell of the city’s numerous transformations.  Mary Beth Corrigan, an archivist and curator who has curated other PNC Legacy Projects, oversaw the development of the exhibit.

The Innovation Wall, also part of the exhibit, recognizes 230 organizations that have recieved PNC support.

The building, redesigned by Pittsburgh-based EDGE studio, makes use of an existing storefront, but the former Liberty Travel structure is hardly recognizable.  Gone are the billboards that had once adorned the façade.  A revolving door, green and grey zinc panels, and channel glass bring the space in line with PNC’s other nearby properties.

The Lantern Building sits adjacent to the Fairmont Hotel, and its sleek modern materials complement the towering glass structure.

And while it might not be as large as the planned green tower on Wood Street, the new Lantern Building does feature a green roof that’s used to naturally cool the building and lowering energy consumption, as well as address storm water management.

The building will not be used for any banking operations,  however, its second floor will be used as a meeting space.

In addition to Pittsburgh, Legacy exhibits exist in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Cleveland, Fredericksburg and Annapolis. 

The Legacy exhibit will be open to the public on Thursday, August 2nd.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Emily Krull, PNC Bank; EDGE studio

Robert Morris to open Downtown RMU, offering bachelor's and master's degrees

Robert Morris University is expanding in Pittsburgh once again.  The university has announced that it will be opening a new campus, known as RMU Downtown, at the Heinz 57 Center on Sixth Avenue this fall.

The center will offer bachelor's and master's degrees for part-time students, and will become the new home of the RMU Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management, which will be relocating from the nearby Regional Enterprise Tower. 

The new campus comes just two years after RMU sold its former downtown location to Duquesne University. 

Kyle Fisher, VP for public relations at RMU, says the school had been looking for a better downtown home for its programs ever since selling its former location in 2010.  She says the previous space had been more square-footage than the university needed.

“This lease [at the Heinz 57 Center] provided us with the best of both worlds,” Fisher says.  “We can consolidate everything that we want to make available to downtown audiences…and also ample space to deliver a number of our high demand degree programs.”

And it's just one of several satellite campuses the university plans to open throughout the region, including degree programs at Southpointe in Washington County, and in Monroeville.  The school's main campus, located in Moon Township, is 18 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh.

Downtown RMU will offer six degree programs and two certificate programs, including Master of Business Administration; Master of Science in Information Systems; and undergraduate and graduate certificates in Enterprise Systems. 

Classes will start for the fall semester on August 25th.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Kyle Fisher, RMU

One night only Night Market pops up Downtown this Friday

For the first time in recent memory, an unused lot in Downtown Pittsburgh is being transformed into a one-night-only Night Market, giving city residents one more reason to venture to (or stay in) the Golden Triangle after work.  The Night Market, which takes places this Friday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. will feature music by DJ Soy Sos, independent vendors of jewelry, art, and crafts, and food from a variety of local eateries.

Jeremy Waldrup, president of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, says his organization created this event in order to showcase this particular stretch of Liberty Avenue as a block filled with activity, including a variety of bars and restaurants, and the August Wilson Center. 

“By providing individuals with another reason to come to this street we hope to encourage more folks to mill around downtown and see what opportunities there are to experience,” Waldrup says. 

At Friday’s market (located at 917-919 Liberty Avenue), the restaurant Meat & Potatoes will offer a preview of food from its new concept, Pork & Beans, which is expected to open later this fall.  And Conflict Kitchen, which is set to open Downtown in the coming months, will also be serving food.

Among the 15 independent vendors will be Tugboat Printshop and Devorah Naturals.  And café tables and chairs will be set up at the Night Market to encourage guests to linger in the space.

This Friday is also the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Gallery Crawl, which begins at 5:30 p.m. 

“It should fit very well into the [Gallery Crawl] with people exploring that area,” says Ida D’Errico, of PDP.

D'Errico says this is the only Night Market currently planned, but based on the event’s success there could be more in the future.

“Pittsburgh enjoys various markets and our outdoor plazas, and so potentially this could expand into another location at some future point in time,” she says.

The Night Market is the latest endeavor to come from the Project Pop Up Program, a partnership between Mayor Ravenstahl, the URA, City Planning, and the PDP.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Jeremy Waldrup, Ida D’Errico

Pittsburgh's 21st Century Triumph Over 20th C Urban Renewal, lecture by Dr. Mindy Fullilove

When a city is divided by race and class, how are its residents' minds affected?  And in a nation filled with struggling cities, what has Pittsburgh done differently to address those divisions?

Next Monday, Dr. Mindy Fullilove will address those questions at a free lecture titled "The Meaning of Things: Pittsburgh's 21st Century Triumph Over 20th Century Urban Renewal." 

Fullilove, a social psychologist at Columbia University, views Pittsburgh as an anomaly among American cities.  She says Pittsburgh has maintained an unusual sense of community despite its fractured past and brutal top-down interventions in neighborhoods like the Hill District and East Liberty.

“Pittsburgh has always been a city of great neighborhoods that are very strong,” Fullilove says.  “Even through all this upheaval… people have really clung to the vision of their neighborhoods and love of their city.”

She says those types of past interventions break a bond between a city and its residents, but that Pittsburghers seem to make a distinction between the city’s politicians and decision makers, and the city as a place of beauty and fellowship, of culture and history.

But perhaps more importantly, Pittsburgh’s leaders seem to have learned from the past, and have changed the way they’re making decisions.  Rather than a top-down approach, Fullilove says there’s been a big shift to a more inclusive, shared decision making process when determining how to reanimate neighborhoods.

 “Which I think is not only really helpful for Pittsburgh, but is something that's going on in the US and around the world, and makes Pittsburgh a real thought leader for the nation,” she says.

Fullilove has studied Pittsburgh's communities for the past 15 years.  Her forthcoming book, Urban Alchemy, tries to identify the key elements of restoring cities from a state of fracture.  She proposes nine elements of restoration that appear to be working in cities in the U.S. and in France, with one case in particular being Pittsburgh.

The lecture will be held at the August Wilson Center, in Downtown (980 Liberty Avenue), at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 18, and is free and open to the public.  For more information or to RSVP, email terickson@cdcp.org or call 412-391-4144.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Mindy Fullilove

The Gardens at Market Square moves forward; Downtown Restoration Program uncovers history

The Gardens at Market Square, the latest plan for redeveloping Downtown's Forbes Avenue, will continue to move forward as the Millcraft Industries project has gained the approval of the Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission.

The planned $81.8 million complex includes an 18-story office tower and hotel, and a 10-tier above-ground parking garage.  A revised design of the structures passed with a 5-0 vote last week.

Design revisions include changes to materials, like a lighter stainless steel frame, and a visual break between buildings, now appearing as individual segments rather than one massive structure.

Lucas Piatt, of Millcraft, says his company wanted to create a contemporary structure that complemented the historic structures in Market Square, rather than produce a replication.

“We think it is important to honor the history that Market Square embodies,” Piatt says.  “We are well vested in the square…so we fully under that and we did our best to accommodate those concerns that we heard.”

The project’s next step is to go before the city planning commission for final approval.  If approved, Millcraft hopes to begin construction this fall, with a projected completion of early 2014.

And in the neighborhood surrounding Market Square, the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) is proceeding with the restoration of several historic structures, as part of Mayor Ravenstahl’s Downtown Restoration Program.

At the corner of Forbes and Wood Street, PHLF has removed the orange metal paneling that had covered the building there, revealing a handsome stone structure.  Built in 1930 in the early Modern style, it was designed by the Pittsburgh firm of Hunting, Davis & Dunnells.  Its first and longtime tenant at the ground level was a Stouffer’s Restaurant diner.

The Mayor’s $4 million program also includes restoration of three cast-iron storefronts on Wood; the Thompson Building on Market Street; and a stone building at the corner of Fifth and Wood, along with two historic buildings on either side. 

PHLF has taken bids for contractors for each of these projects, which they plan to review with the City and make a decision on over the new few weeks.  PHLF President Arthur Ziegler says construction should begin within several weeks.
 


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Lucas Piatt, Millcraft Industries; Arthur Ziegler, Al Tannler, PHLF

PNC to acquire, restore historic Lord and Taylor building Downtown

The former Lord and Taylor building, a key historic structure in Downtown’s Fifth-Forbes corridor, will soon be active again as PNC Financial Services Group has reached a deal to purchase that landmark.  The bank plans to relocate 800 employees there, returning the granite, Classical-styled building to its original use as a bank.

Fred Solomon, of PNC, says this building presented the best opportunity for consolidating the bank’s real estate portfolio in that neighborhood.  Solomon adds that PNC employees enjoy working downtown, citing restaurant and shopping options, and access to public transportation.

The building has been vacant since November 2004, when the department store closed its doors citing declining sales.  Its most recent owners, J.J. Gumberg Co., had purchased the building in 2005 for $2.5 million.

Built in 1924, the six-story building served as a Mellon Bank branch for seven decades before its conversion to a retail use.  Solomon says PNC believes it can easily convert the space to office uses, and will utilize the building’s new escalators and elevators.

Solomon says PNC plans to restore the building’s exterior, which was designated a city historic structure in 1999.

“We have no intention of changing anything on the building's exterior,” he says.  “We plan to honor its heritage.”

PNC plans to close on the building by the end of this month.  Remodeling will start soon after, with a completion date around the end of 2013.

Solomon says PNC has been a longtime supporter of Downtown, and cites its other developments in that area.

“The company's been on the same corner at fifth and Wood for approximately 160 years,” he says.  “We expect to be at the same intersection for much longer with the construction of the Tower at PNC Plaza, which will be our new headquarters building in Pittsburgh.”


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Fred Solomon
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