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Downtown housing update


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From today's PG (which also has a map of the locations)

Hopefully as these are completed (and hopefully successful), others will invest in the downtown area and ultimately, the area will be a lot more lively.

Downtown living shows signs of life as residential projects move ahead

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It's not a boom yet, but there are signs that the efforts to bring more residential housing into the Golden Triangle are starting to bear fruit.

At yesterday's planning commission meeting, members heard a plan to convert a seven-story office building at 111 Wood St. into apartments, possibly for local college students, and approved plans for an 84-unit condominium building on Fort Pitt Boulevard near Stanwix Street.

And today, Lincoln Property Co. will break ground on an 18-story, 151-unit apartment building at Seventh Street and Fort Duquesne Boulevard in the heart of the Cultural District.

While the Downtown retail corridor shows few signs of life, the market for residential living appears to be growing. Ralph Falbo, the developer planning the First Side condominium building, said the demand for Downtown housing definitely exists.

"I can tell you right now that I've been pleasantly surprised at the response [to the condo project]," he said. "The Realtors are pushing us to get started."

Patty Burk, program director for the Downtown Living Initiative, said Pittsburgh is no exception to the nationwide trend toward urban living.

She said more people are seeing the value in city living, in taking five minutes to walk to work rather than a hour in traffic, and in living near major cultural and sports attractions.

"It's a lifestyle choice that's happening in our society," she said.

Falbo believes the demand is being driven in part by people who have been recruited to work for local universities and hospitals and who are accustomed to urban living.

The city also has done much to encourage more residential development. In fact, one of the major initiatives in the Pittsburgh Downtown Plan adopted in 1998 by the planning commission was to create a "24-hour city" by building more housing in the Golden Triangle.

"I think the big thing is a real concerted effort to build more housing Downtown by a whole series of agencies, public and private," city Zoning Administrator Bob Reppe said.

The Downtown Living Initiative and others are hoping the increase in residential housing will in turn spur demand for more retail and commercial development, doing what the failed Fifth-Forbes retail effort could not.

Falbo hopes to break ground on the $26.3 million condominium project at Fort Pitt Boulevard and Chancery Way by Christmas, with construction scheduled to take 15 to 18 months.

The units will sell for anywhere from $175,000 to more than $300,000. All will have terraces or balconies, with the top-floor penthouse units featuring panoramic views of Downtown.

"Sometimes I wake up at 3 in the morning and say, 'This is really going to happen,' " Falbo said.

Commission members unanimously approved plans for the project yesterday.

They also heard about plans for the newest venture Downtown -- a proposed apartment building at 111 Wood St.

Dean McHolme, co-owner of 111 Wood Street Associates and president of McHolme Builders, said officials are planning six stories of two-bedroom apartments, with as many as four units per floor. The first floor of the seven-story building will continue to hold office space.

McHolme is thinking about offering student housing at the site, which is close to Point Park University and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

"There's a lot of young people in the city, and that's kind of what we're targeting," he said.

The developer hopes to break ground next month and be ready to rent by next summer.

McHolme also is involved in a project to convert the upper six floors of the Fidelity Building on Fourth Avenue into two-bedroom apartment suites. The first renters could be in the building by early next year.

The $36.2 million, 18-story high-rise planned by Lincoln Property will overlook the Allegheny River. Apartment rents will range from $1,084 a month for one bedroom to $2,253 a month for two bedrooms. Two penthouse units will rent for $3,300 to $3,400.

Another 20 luxury apartment units are planned at 930 Penn Ave., near the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, by Rugby Realty. They are scheduled for completion in June.

There also are plans for more residential housing on the North Shore between the two stadiums. Also, five former H.J. Heinz Co. buildings on the North Side are being converted into luxury loft apartments at the cost of $70 million. About 12 of the 260 units under construction have been rented

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Another update:

Union National Bank Building may become condos

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Union National Bank Building on Wood Street is the latest proposed site for residential housing Downtown.

E.V. Bishoff Co., the owner, is expected to go before the city planning commission today with a proposal to convert the upper floors of the building into condominiums.

The $9 million project would involve the construction of 59 two-bedroom units. National City bank sold the 21-story building to Columbus, Ohio-based Bishoff in 1997.

Bishoff must go before the planning commission for approval because the renovations constitute a major change of use. Bishoff officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The proposal is the latest involving housing Downtown. Developers also have unveiled plans for student housing at 111 Wood Street, an 84-unit condominium building on Fort Pitt Boulevard and a 151-unit apartment building in the Cultural District.

The next plan to revive the Fifth and Forbes retail corridor, which could be ready early next year, also is expected to include a strong emphasis on residential housing

It's great that an existing building will be contribute some many units. If the to be proposed Fifth Forbes plan does its job and plans for significant housing along that corridor. This building and the other annnounced new ones/renovated ones will be part of a huge increase in downtown options this decade.


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