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Work on Luna Square project expected to start

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http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/stor.../02/story3.html

Work on Luna Square project expected to get under way

Suzanne Elliott

BLOOMFIELD -- In less than a month, work is expected to begin on the $115 million Luna Square mixed-use project.

Luna Square is a joint venture of Kratsa Properties, a Harmar Township development company, the McKean Auto Group of Pittsburgh, Dynamic Building Corp. of Cranberry and Kiebler, Smith & Co., a suburban Cleveland residential development company.

Luna will be the third-largest construction project in the city since the $104 million Hillman Cancer Center was built in 2002. Only the $300 million SouthSide Works mixed-use venture under way on the South Side and the new Children's Hospital project in Bloomfield are larger.

Michael Kratsas, vice president of development for Kratsa, said work on Luna had been delayed for a couple of months because those involved wanted to find the right residential developer for the 250-unit apartment complex planned for the site.

"Kiebler is pretty strong in this (apartment) area," said Mr. Kratsas. "We interviewed a lot of developers. Kiebler came out shining." Officials from Kiebler could not be reached for comment.

Luna will be constructed on the site of the vacant Harry Survis Auto Center on Baum Boulevard, opposite the Hillman Cancer Center. Besides apartments, Luna will consist of 58,000 square feet of retail space; 148,000 square feet of office space; a 100-room hotel; an art cinema theater with six screens and 980 seats; an undetermined number of restaurants that will total 8,800 square feet and a six-level parking garage with 1,500 spaces that will be level to Baum Boulevard. Mr. Kratsas said 600 of the garage's parking spaces will be available for public use.

"The idea of putting in a parking garage on the site goes back 15 years," said Brad McKean, president of the McKean Auto Group. "Kratsa approached us about putting a hotel on top of the parking garage. We talked about a variety of ways to make that happen. It was the missing piece that helped us get together with them."

DIFFERENT LOOKS

Mr. Kratsas said each Luna Square building will have a different exterior to blend with the neighborhood and create an urban feel.

The Baum Boulevard entrance of Luna will have commercial and office space. The town square will be toward the center of the development, where the restaurants, shops and theater will be located. The residential area will be designed to blend in with the housing on neighboring Cypress Street, Mr. Kratsas said.

"We want to give this development an historic look," Mr. Kratsas said.

Luna Square is named for one of the first amusement parks in the city, Luna Park, which was located between Centre Avenue and Baum Boulevard. Luna Park ran for about five years in the early 1900s.

BOOST TO DEVELOPMENT

With Luna Square, the projected real estate revenue is $2.45 million. Mr. Kratsas said 60 percent of the tax increment of $1.4 million will be pledged to repay the TIF note. Currently, the property generates $42,590 a year in tax revenue. After the project is completed in the summer of 2006, the development is expected to generate $960,000 in real estate taxes.

"This is a continuation of the construction taking place along Centre and Baum," said city councilman Bill Peduto, who represents the area.

"This project will provide a significant boost to further development in Bloomfield. I have worked closely on the initial zoning for this project, as well as the planning and creation of the TIF area. I will continue to work on ways to minimize the impact of construction to residents. But, I fully support this project."

MS. ELLIOTT may be contacted at [email protected]

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in a way its like Oakland north, with whole foods, hillman cancer and shadyside. plus all the positive things going on in e. liberty. now if we can just get fifth and forbes together!

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I drive by the site sometimes, along Baum Blvd. I thought I saw some early signs of activity recently, but not much. I really have been worried about this project, because there has been no news for a while now. I really want it to happen.

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Looks like Luna Square will be realized after all... the project details in this article are sparse... so I wonder if there are any major differences from when Luna Square was envisioned years ago... btw, Kratsa is building several hotels throughout the city... so they must feel pretty confident if they're going to go ahead with yet another urban hotel

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburgh...s/s_515147.html

UPMC drops Shadyside property deal

"Kratsa and other owners of the property now are pursuing their own plans for the site, which include a hotel, commercial space and parking, while UPMC mulls other options for its planned Hillman expansion. "

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I'm glad to see this development moving forward. It makes me wonder, though, how big of a market Pittsburgh has for all of these new hotels. Three new ones are coming to East Liberty alone. Plus if this carries through it'll also be on the East End right across from the new Marriot.

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I too wonder about all these new hotels. But I can only assume that the developers do their research and have a pretty good idea of what can be supported. I would guess that there's been more demand than supply in the east end since the Hillman Cancer center went in, and they are just catching up with what's needed.

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Most of the city outside of Downtown has been underserved by hotels forever... hotels in the Strip, South Side, East End, North Side, etc. is a pretty new phenomenon and I think there's a lot of room for it due to the attractions and interesting neighborhoods throughout the city... the Luna Square location will have no trouble capitalizing on Pittsburgh's "2nd City" of Oakland...

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At least there is other good news in that article:

-at least $300K going into the URA coffers for use (hopefully) in developing additional properties at the Tech Park and a 15 Million dollar hotel replacing an acre of (tax-exempt) vacant land on the tax rolls.

-Vacant Upper Floor loan fund contribution, a very exciting project

-ELDI continuing to move forward with mixed income revitalization of East Liberty

-B. Katz...enough said

On another note, I can never find these articles on the PG's new website...I miss the old one

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yeah.. I'm worried about RiverParc too... it's very strange how a project of such scale can receive virtually no media coverage (even it's big announcement was knocked off the front pages due to Bob O'Conner's hospita

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The way the ecomony is going, I would expect other projects to go into some state of either delay or dropped.

The Luna Square one though is unfortunate because that area (and so many others) has so much potential and really would hav been great.

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And that TIF-financed development will feature a 41,000 sq. ft. gym to go head-to-head with existing 55,000 sq. ft. Club One a couple blocks down the street.

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This brings about my greatest fear with the East Liberty redevelopment.... that the new businesses will compete with current businesses, and that these new businesses on the periphery will hurt the core rather than support it. In general I think ELDI is doing a good job with planning and bringing in businesses that won't compete. (For example, I don't think the Target or the hotels or the new restaurants planned for the core will put Hip Hop City or any of the existing places out of businesses.

But yeah... this move with the gym is pretty stupid. I can't see both of them peacefully coexisting. One will end up going under, and this portion of Bakery Square will have been a total waste in the grand scheme of redeveloping the area.

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I just thought of something. Wasn't there some talk about PAT possibly using the building Club One is in? I don't recall the details, and I don't know if anything came of it.

Anyone know about that?

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I never thought I would see a delay as good news. But I'm just glad to know it hasn't been axed completely. Let's hope it doesn't get delayed indefinitely...

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