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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
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