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  1. #1
    Top 30 Friday133's Avatar
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    Pittsburgh Renaissance

    Developer wants to 'do our dream' on Forbes
    Millcraft Industries is planning a $70 million, 18-story high-rise with unique retail that will be its signature project Downtown
    Thursday, March 22, 2007

    By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The Washington County developer heavily involved in reshaping the Fifth and Forbes corridor Downtown might be saving its best for last.

    Millcraft Industries Inc. wants to make a proposed 18-story high-rise planned on Forbes Avenue its signature piece, with one-of-a-kind destination retail and an equally one-of-a-kind parking garage that would allow some residents to park right at their doorstep.

    The building, to be known as the Gardens, would be the last of the three projects Millcraft is doing Downtown. The firm also is spearheading the $65 million conversion of the Lazarus-Macy's building at Wood Street and Fifth into condos, offices, and retail, and the $32 million make-over of the former G.C. Murphy's store on Fifth into apartments and shops.

    Millcraft is looking at an estimate of $70 million or more for the Gardens project, up from $50 million, and has boosted the amount of retail space from about 25,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet.

    Unlike the two other projects, where it is working around existing facades, Millcraft will have the opportunity to create from the ground up with the high-rise. It plans to demolish several buildings on the south side of Forbes between Wood Street and Market Square to make way for the construction.

    "We can pretty much do our dream there," said Lucas Piatt, Millcraft vice president of development.

    With that in mind, Millcraft hopes to put unique retail in the building, Mr. Piatt said. As one example of what the developer had in mind, he mentioned the shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, which include Christian Dior, Gucci, Gianni Versace, and Valentino.

    Not all of those contemplated at the Gardens will be ultra expensive but they will be "unique retailers not here right now that will create high energy and a regional draw," Mr. Piatt said.

    "We don't want this to be a playground for just the rich. We want to create a neighborhood for everyone," he said.

    Millcraft also is planning several levels of parking as part of the high-rise.

    But the unique feature being contemplated is building the garage space behind apartments or condos.

    That way, pedestrians looking at the building from the outside will see windows, not concrete, while at least some of those who buy or rent units will be able to park right at their door. He said the concept has been done in other cities, including Atlanta and Chicago.

    "Literally, it's like having your own garage," Mr. Piatt said. "From a facade standpoint, it makes it look better. From a lifestyle standpoint, it makes sense."

    Overall, Millcraft is planning a mix of condos and apartments, up to 250 units in all, in the building. Mr. Piatt said they would be mid-range in terms of price or rental.

    "We want to focus on that middle market, younger folks buying Heartland Homes or Ryan Homes," he said.

    Millcraft also is looking for other partners as part of the venture. It has already had discussions with some, Mr. Piatt said, although he would not name them.

    He stressed the developer's more immediate priorities are the Piatt Place and Market Square Place projects. Both must be successful if the Gardens project is to proceed as planned, he said.

    Sixty-five condos are planned at Piatt Place, plus office space and ground-level retail.

    Two restaurants, the Capital Grille and McCormick & Schmick, will open there this year.

    Work is expected to start later this year on the G.C. Murphy's conversion, which will feature some 42 apartments and 65,000 square feet of stores.

    Mr. Piatt is hoping that those projects, plus the construction of the Three PNC Plaza office, residential and retail building on Fifth Avenue and smaller developments, will create a nucleus that will allow the Gardens and its proposed retail to thrive.

    Combined with anticipated street improvements on Forbes and the synergy created by other development, he envisions the Gardens as a "high energy" project that people will want to see.

    "When people talk about going Downtown, they'll be talking about going to the Gardens. This will be a destination Downtown," he said.
    Post-Gazette

    Anyway this could be a sticky? I know alot of people are interested in the changes going on in the city.

    If Piatt is able to pull this off, downtown is going to be very different from today. Frankly though I'm not sure the condo market is strong enough in Pittsburgh.
    Last edited by Friday133; 03-22-2007 at 09:44 AM.

  2. #2
    Top 30 Friday133's Avatar
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    Wow, no love for the city.

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    Downtown condo developer to convert 2nd building
    Monday, March 26, 2007

    By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The developer turning the old Union National Bank building at Fourth Avenue and Wood Street, Downtown, into the Carlyle, a 60-unit condominium project, is so pleased with the early response that it is planning a second phase.

    The E.V. Bishoff Co. intends to convert the company-owned Commonwealth Building on Fourth next to the Carlyle into residential housing as well, President David Bishoff said this morning.

    Mr. Bishoff said the firm decided to move on to a second phase because of the success of the Carlyle, where 20 of the 60 units have been sold so far.

    "Any time you can sell a third of the units before you come out of the ground or start demolition, that, to me, is an indication on the part of the community as a whole that you are developing something that they place value on," he said.

    The developer is anticipating 50 to 60 units in the Commonwealth Building. It is unsure at this point whether they will be condos or apartments. The price range would be about $235,000 to $450,000, about the same as the Carlyle. Mr. Bishoff said the developer plans to get started with the Commonwealth conversion once 75 percent of the units in the Carlyle have been sold.

    There's also a chance E.V. Bishoff may develop a parking lot it owns on Fourth into housing as well at some point.

    Mr. Bishoff announced his intentions during a ribbon cutting this morning to commemorate the start of demolition inside the Carlyle. The first units should be ready for occupancy in 14 months.

    Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said the Carlyle project is part of the "continued transformation of the Downtown corridor." He used the occasion to pitch his proposed 10-year tax abatement program for residential housing, which he hopes will spur even more investment Downtown.
    Post-Gazette

    I'm not too sure what to think about this. I would think the condo market in the city is going to hit a saturation point soon. I'd take a wait and see approach with this additional conversion.

  4. #4
    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Stay tuned about the sticky request, we're considering some options with other threads of this nature in a centralized format...

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    Top 30 Friday133's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TOP GUN View Post
    Stay tuned about the sticky request, we're considering some options with other threads of this nature in a centralized format...
    No problem.

  6. #6
    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    As far as the actual topic goes, I can't profess to know any indepth info on the downtown happenings as far as if this is a feasable project but from a fans point of view that travels to city a couple times a year to hang out and go to games and such, it sounds like a good thing initially

  7. #7
    Top 30 Friday133's Avatar
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    IMO, the more people living in the city the better. I'm just not sure if condo's are they way to go at this point. Frankly I think they are going to need some affordable housing and more rentals. The ultimate key would be putting in a grocery store downtown.
    Last edited by Friday133; 03-27-2007 at 09:57 AM.

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    More Downtown housing is under way
    Tuesday, March 27, 2007

    By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



    David W. Bishoff is so pleased with condominium sales at the Carlyle, the soon-to-be-converted Union National Bank building at Fourth Avenue and Wood Street, Downtown, that he's ready to try it again -- right next door.

    Even as the ribbon was being cut yesterday to celebrate the start of construction at the Carlyle, Mr. Bishoff said he had a "second phase" of housing planned at its 20-story sister, the Commonwealth Building, next door on Fourth.

    Mr. Bishoff, president of E.V. Bishoff Co. of Columbus, Ohio, said that conversion project moved from thought into planning because of the early success of the 21-story Carlyle, where 20 of 60 luxury units ranging in price from $190,000 to $1.2 million have been sold.

    "Any time you can sell a third of the units before you come out of the ground or start demolition, that, to me, is an indication on the part of the community as a whole that you are developing something that they place value on," he said.

    The Bishoff Co. owns the Union National Bank and Commonwealth buildings, both of which were built in 1906.

    Mr. Bishoff said there could be 50 to 60 units in the Commonwealth Building, although he is unsure whether they would be condos or apartments. Prices would range from $235,000 to $450,000. He said the firm planned to start the second conversion once 75 percent of the units in the Carlyle had been sold.

    The company eventually may develop housing on a parking lot it owns on Fourth as well, he said.

    The Commonwealth Building conversion would add to the burgeoning residential market Downtown.

    In addition to the 60 units at the Carlyle, another 65 condos are planned at Piatt Place, the former Lazarus-Macy's building at Fifth Avenue and Wood, and 42 apartments are in the works at the old G.C. Murphy store on Fifth.

    Another 28 luxury condos are part of the 23-story Three PNC Plaza skyscraper being built on Fifth across from Murphy's. Millcraft Industries, the developer converting the former Lazarus and Murphy's stores, also has plans for as many as 250 condos and apartments in a new 18-story high-rise on Forbes Avenue.

    On First Avenue, 151 First Side, an 80-unit condominium high-rise, is being readied for its first move-ins this summer. More than half of those units have been sold.

    Add to all those some 700 housing units planned over the next decade between Seventh and Ninth streets, adjacent to the Cultural District, and some smaller projects completed or under development Downtown.

    While it might seem like too much to some, Mr. Bishoff has no doubt the market can support it. He said Columbus, a city smaller than Pittsburgh, has sold a couple thousand downtown housing units in recent years with the help of a 10-year tax abatement program.

    "The question isn't whether this city can absorb 200 or 400 or 600 or even a thousand. This Downtown should easily absorb and keep filled several thousand units," he said.

    Like the other developers doing housing Downtown, Mr. Bishoff is gambling that a lot of people will trade in suburban homes, yard work and frustrating commutes for Downtown living and a walk to work.

    He said Pittsburgh has many of the amenities in place -- jogging and biking trails, parks and green space, boating, and sporting and cultural venues -- to support a robust residential market.

    "If you think about it, there is no great city in the world that is without a downtown residential component. When you think about the number of people and the amount of business that's done in Pittsburgh, I can't think of any compelling reason why the people of Pittsburgh will do anything but embrace Downtown housing," he said.

    Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said the Carlyle is part of the "continued transformation of the Downtown corridor."

    He used the ribbon cutting to pitch his proposed tax abatement program for residential housing that is now before City Council. It would waive, for 10 years, the first $2,700 in city property taxes on new housing units built Downtown and in 21 other neighborhoods.

    "It will help expedite people moving Downtown. It will stir interest and allow people to move Downtown, walk to work, and be more efficient," he said.

    One Carlyle buyer, Brian Ritz, is trading in his Friendship home for a two-bedroom, two-bath unit on the 15th floor. He likened his investment to "owning a piece of the Golden Triangle."

    He also was attracted by the emerging Downtown residential market.

    "I like the energy and the potential. The idea of having a neighborhood Downtown that I'm going to be part of is very exciting," he said.
    Post-Gazette

    An update from yesterday's article. A part of me would really like to live in the golden triangle, but wife is against it, oh well. I think its going to be an exciting time for the city with the growth, but they need to create jobs downtown as well. However some developer needs to recognize the golden triangle needs some other amentities such as grocery stores and more retail.

  9. #9
    Prosdo's Avatar
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    I hope it works. Downtown can really use it.


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