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Cloud-Computing Company Expedient Completes Data Center Expansion, Announces New Projects

30 Jan 2014, 2:51 am







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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Local cloud-computing company Expedient has recently completed a more than 7,000-square-foot expansion of its data center at Allegheny Center Mall in Pittsburgh, which first opened in 2008.

The approximately $3 million project brings the property to more than 17,000 square feet of production space.

Expedient Data Centers operates two facilities in Pittsburgh totaling more than 60,000 square feet of leased real estate. The company has seven other data centers in Cleveland, Indianapolis, Columbus, Baltimore and Boston.

Expedient plans additional expansions in 2014, which include a new 10,000-square-foot data center in Cleveland, a 20,000-square-foot facility in Columbus, and a 6,000-square-foot expansion of its existing data center in Indianapolis.

With these investments, Expedient’s total data center capacity will exceed 250,000 square feet.

“Our solutions are unique in that we effectively offer customers one giant data center, at nine, soon to be 11 different sites, which are seamlessly connected by a fully redundant 10Gig fiber ring. This is especially appealing to clients seeking geographic diversity to help meet their security and disaster requirements,” Shawn McGorry, president of Expedient, said in a press statement.

In other news, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports that the Southwestern Pennsylvania Red Cross has closed on the sale of its building on the Boulevard of the Allies in downtown Pittsburgh.

Jim Kelly, a principal in the Pittsburgh office of Avison Young, who brokered the transaction on behalf of the nonprofit organization, told the newspaper that the Gregg family acquired the property for $1.65 million, with plans to upgrade and maintain it as an office building. Michael Downey, also of Avison Young, represented the buyer.

Red Cross plans to occupy the facility for another six months, and then relocate to its newly acquired 33,000-square-foot building in the Strip District. The nonprofit has recently purchased the asset, which includes a parking lot of more than 50 spaces, from Sargent Electric for $1.95 million.

Photo credits: www.datacenterknowledge.com



August Wilson Center in Downtown Pittsburgh Could Be Liquidated

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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

A court-appointed conservator recommends that the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in downtown Pittsburgh be sold and its assets liquidated.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that after conducting a thorough investigation, Judith Fitzgerald, a former U.S. bankruptcy judge, concluded that the center doesn’t have the money to pay off debt or fund normal operations or feasibility studies. The total accumulated debt is estimated to be between $9.5 million and $10 million.

Last September, Dollar Bank filed an action with the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, claiming that the center is $7.06 million in default of its mortgage. The museum is also in default of a $574,000 Urban Redevelopment Authority loan issued in 2012.

Named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright from Pittsburgh, the August Wilson Center opened in 2009. It offers multiple exhibition galleries, a 486-seat theater for performances in all genres, an education center for classes, lectures and hands-on learning, as well as dazzling spaces for community programs and events. A significant portion of the $40 million cost of the project was financed through public and private foundations.

In other news, a joint venture between Monroeville-based Valcott Enterprises and Cleveland-based multifamily developer NRP Group is planning to convert the former Overbrook Middle School in Pittsburgh into a senior living complex.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, the community group Economic Development South has received a grant of up to $30,000 from the Urban Redevelopment Authority to study the project known as Overbrook Estates.

Under the proposed plan, Valcott would repurpose the school building into a 90-bed senior living facility, while NRP would develop a separate 50-unit independent living apartment building. Plans also call for infrastructure improvements, including a pedestrian bridge that would grant access to a nearby T station and bus line.

Photo credits: www.perkinswill.com



Developers Invest $19M in Acquisition and Renovation of Moorehead Tower in Pittsburgh

16 Jan 2014, 8:24 pm







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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Beacon Communities Development LLC of Boston has partnered with local firm Ralph Falbo Inc. to purchase and renovate the Moorehead Tower, an iconic 141-unit affordable senior housing property in Oakland.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, the building’s new owners have spent $7.69 million for the acquisition of the property and are currently investing in major upgrades, which will bring the total cost of the project to around $19 million. Part of the financing will be provided through $13 million in credits from various sources, including PNC Financial Services Group Inc.

Mistick Construction is in charge of the renovation, which is already under way and should cost an average of $57,000 per unit. Upgrades will include new mechanicals, new windows and new amenities for seniors with disabilities.

Michael Polite, CEO of Ralph Falbo Inc., told the newspaper that the property had never undergone major renovations in its entire 32-year history.

In other news, Entertainment technology firm Schell Games has announced it will relocate to Station Square this spring. The company has signed a long-term lease with Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises to occupy the Bessemer Court property, which boasts expansive views of the Monongahela River and the city’s downtown area. The building also offers abundant parking, and easy access to a variety of public transportation opportunities, shops and restaurants.

Schell Games was represented by Jack Donahue of Donahue Real Estate Advisors, while CBRE’s Jeremy Kronman and Adam Viccaro brokered the lease on behalf of Forest City Enterprises.

“We are thrilled to be able to expand our Pittsburgh presence. Finding space that matches our creative culture and allows us to accommodate our current and future growth has been a major focus for us,” Jake Witherell, chief operating officer of Schell Games, said in a news release.

The company, which has more than 100 employees, will relocate from Birmingham Place on the city’s South Side.

Photo credits: wikimapia.org



Walnut Capital to Begin Construction on New Office Building at Bakery Square 2.0 This Spring

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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Walnut Capital Partners is planning a spring groundbreaking for the first office building of its approximately $100 million Bakery Square 2.0 mixed-use development in East Liberty. According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, construction on the six-story, 216,000-square-foot facility is expected to begin in March and be complete in 18 to 24 months. The Pittsburgh Planning Commission is currently reviewing the developer’s proposal.   

Slated to rise at the site of the former Reizenstein Middle School, Bakery Square 2.0 will also include a second office building of similar size, parking garages, two 175-unit apartment buildings and 57 townhouses.  

Currently under construction, the first residential structure should be complete by mid-2014. PJ Dick is the builder, while Strada Architecture LLC is the project’s designer. Gregg Perelmann, principal of Walnut Capital, told the newspaper that through its web site, the company has already received between 400 and 500 inquiries about leasing the new apartments.

Across the street from the site of the planned complex, Walnut Capital Partners has also completed Bakery Square 1.0, the $130 million mixed-use redevelopment of the 1900-era Nabisco bakery. The LEED platinum 250,000 square feet building is fully leased to a mix of tenants including Google, UPMC, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh.  

A two-level sky bridge over Penn Avenue will connect the Larimer side of the established Bakery Square development with the new Shadyside addition.

In related news, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports that Walnut Capital and its New York financial partner, the RCG Longview Fund, have sold the 110-room SpringHill Suites at Bakery Square (1.0) to an affiliate of Washington, D.C.-based Capstone Development LLC for $21.8 million. The Larimer property was marketed by the Pittsburgh office of HFF, Inc. in conjunction with JLL Hospitality.

Photo credits: Walnut Capital Partners



Tryko Partners Acquires Affordable Multifamily Community in Leechburg

20 Dec 2013, 4:22 pm







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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Private equity real estate group Tryko Partners, LLC has announced the acquisition of Sandalwood Apartments, an 86-unit affordable multifamily community in Leechburg, PA.

According to REBusinessOnline, Tryko, which specializes in project-based, Section 8 Homeowners Assistance Program (HAP) transactions, has purchased the property from American Housing Partners, Inc. for $4.2 million.

Marcus & Millichap brokered the transaction, while CBRE Capital Markets provided financing.

“This transaction is our second financing with CBRE through its Freddie Mac platform,” Chad Buchanan, Tryko’s chief investment officer, said in a news release. “Even though Sandalwood Apartments is a smaller multifamily asset, their office gave it a level of attention we would expect for a much larger opportunity, along with the best possible execution. We currently are in the process of closing two more properties with CBRE and look forward to continuing this productive relationship.”

Located at 253 Sandalwood Drive, about 33 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, Sandalwood Apartments encompasses 16 buildings with mostly two- and three-bedroom townhomes. Besides its proximity to local schools and shopping, the community offers a wide range of amenities, including on-site laundry facilities, a community room with kitchen, storage, a playground and basketball court.

“This is a great property in a quiet neighborhood,” noted Tryko Partners’ Uri Kahanow, director of acquisitions. “From an investment standpoint, it made sense for us to take advantage of the chance to grow our presence in the Pittsburgh region, which remains a prime target market for us. It also fits well in terms of product type as we continue to strategically expand our affordable housing portfolio.”

Based in Brick, N.J., Tryko Partners was founded in 1989. The company currently owns and manages a residential portfolio of more than 5,000 affordable and market-rate units, 1,500 of which are located in the greater Pittsburgh market.

The acquisition of Sandalwood Apartments is in line with Tryko’s aggressive growth strategy. In its 2012 and 2013 rankings, Affordable Housing Finance recognized the firm among the nation’s top 10 companies for completing both acquisitions and rehabilitations.

Photo credits: Tryko Partners



Hotel d2 and Cobblestone Plan New Hotels in Connellsville and Millvale

13 Dec 2013, 4:23 pm







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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

As part of its Community Hotel Development Initiative, Hotel d2 Services has partnered with Wisconsin-based Cobblestone Hotels LLC to develop two new properties in the Pittsburgh region. According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, a new 54-room hotel is slated to rise in Connellsville, while another 51-room development is planned for Millvalle.

Located along the Youghiogheny riverfront, the Connellsville project entails an investment of approximately $5 million. The hotel is expected to cater to business travelers and tourists using the nearby Great Allegheny Passage trail.

“Cobblestone Hotels is always on the lookout for seasoned hotel development professionals to take and expand our vision. Hotel d2 Services and communities like Connellsville are exactly the type of partnerships we look for and cherish,” Brian Wogernese, brand president of Cobblestone Hotels, LLC, told the newspaper.

The Millvalle property will cost more than $5 million to build and will offer easy access to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Construction on both hotels, which are being designed by JMAC Architects of Bridgeville, is expected to begin in early 2014. The Connellsville property is scheduled to open towards the end of next year, while the Millvale hotel could welcome its first guests by the second quarter of 2015.

In other news, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports that Oakmont-based Presbyterian SeniorCare is planning to convert a Ross Township motherhouse into 42 affordable apartments for seniors. Construction on the $10 million project is expected to begin next spring and be complete by the summer of 2015. The four-story building also hosts a daycare, which will continue to operate after undergoing a $1 million renovation.

Photo credits: Cobblestone Hotels LLC



Rugby Realty Acquires Iconic Koppers Building in Downtown Pittsburgh

9 Dec 2013, 3:49 pm







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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Rugby Realty has acquired the 34-story Koppers Tower in downtown Pittsburgh from Koppers Building Holdings, Inc. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the New Rochelle, N.Y.-based company paid $17.2 million to purchase the 360,000-square-foot historic building at the corner of Grant Street and Seventh Avenue.

Built in 1929 and designed by Chicago architecture firm Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, the property is now 70 percent occupied. The Koppers Co., the Allegheny County Bar Association, the Blumling & Gusky law firm and the Horovitz, Rudoy & Roteman accounting firm are among its tenants.  

Rugby Realty plans to upgrade the art deco skyscraper and boost occupancy. The renovation will include the complete rehabilitation of the currently vacant 24, 25 and 27 floors, a new fitness center and a remodeled ninth-floor conference room.

The company’s other landmark properties on Grant Street include the Frick Building and the Gulf Tower.

“I’m smiling. I love great architecture. To be able to own the buildings that we own, I’m humble and proud at the same time. These architects built the finest buildings in the world. To be able to own these is a real privilege,” Aaron Stauber, Rugby’s president, told the newspaper.

Rugby Realty has improved the occupancy rate of several underachieving properties in Pittsburgh, including 11 Stanwix (the former Westinghouse building), the Frick Building, three Penn Center West buildings or the former Birmingham Towers.

In other news, Atlanta-based Hotel Equities will manage the 145-room La Quinta Inn & Suites Pittsburgh North. The hotel is the company’s first addition in the greater Pittsburgh area.

Located north of downtown, the property offers easy access to the Ross Park Mall, North Hills Village, Heinz Field, PNC Park and the Carnegie Science Center. Amenities include 7,000 square feet of meeting or event space, as well as a fitness center and a seasonal outdoor pool.

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons



2015 Opening Planned for Ace Hotel in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty

2 Dec 2013, 7:09 pm







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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Plans for the $23 million conversion of the former East Liberty YMCA building into an Ace Hotel are moving forward. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority recently approved a $75,000 facade grant for the upcoming 63-room hotel at 120 S. Whitfield St., which will include a restaurant, a ballroom and a fitness center. Construction will also be financed through $11.5 million in new markets tax credits.

Nate Cunningham, manager of ELDI Real Estate LLC, which is a partner on the project, told the newspaper that the new boutique Ace property could open by the spring of 2015.

The trendy Portland, Ore.-based hotel chain has locations in London, New York, Panama City, Palm Springs, Portland, as well as Seattle, and plans to open a new property in Los Angeles in January.

“They have a very unique positioning. They’re probably the hottest new hotel in the United States and potentially even internationally. So we are very lucky to have them come here and be interested in Pittsburgh,” Cunningham added.

In other hotel news, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports that a new 155-room Hyatt Place hotel is slated to rise on a four-acre parcel of land next to the Meadows Racetrack & Casino in North Strabane.

Meadows Hotel Associates LLC, a privately owned hotel development firm based in Pittsburgh, recently purchased the site of the new development from The Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Construction is expected to begin before the end of the year.

Upon completion, the project will also feature a pedestrian bridge connecting the hotel to the racetrack and casino.

“Our team has been working hard to bring this project to reality,” William Paulos, co-founder of Las Vegas-based Cannery Casino Resorts, parent company of The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, said in a press statement. “The hotel will offer our guests an extra level of hospitality, while supporting Washington County and the region’s economy.”

Photo credits: www.acehotel.com



Oxford Development Plans 299-Unit Apartment Community in the Strip District

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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

A 299-unit apartment community is slated to rise on the Allegheny riverfront in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oxford Development Co. is proposing the construction of a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units on four acres of land between 26th and 27th streets. The site is currently used as a truck terminal by Pitt-Ohio Express, which is moving to a new facility in Harmar.

The city’s zoning board of adjustment will review the project on December 19. Oxford is seeking approval to build a multi-unit residential development with off-site parking in an urban industrial zoning district.

According to Ben Kelley, the company’s development manager, Oxford is planning to break ground on the project in spring and deliver the first apartments at the beginning of 2015. Upon completion, the complex will offer a total of 233,000 square feet of space across five and a half stories.

“There’s enormous opportunity in the Strip District for this type of product. It’s in demand and it gives us the ability to invest in an area of the city that we have not previously done so,” Kelley told the newspaper. “The access to Downtown and the amenities available create a really good opportunity for us in our home market.”

Other residential projects planned for the Strip District include a 59-unit apartment complex at Smallman and 11th streets, which is being developed by Shadyside-based Schreiber Real Estate.

Also, Sampson Morris Group is converting the 330,000-square-foot New Federal Cold Storage Building into 144 apartments, while Charles Hammel, Pitt-Ohio Express president, and his wife, Kristen, are proposing the redevelopment of a warehouse at 25th and Smallman streets into 11 two- to three-story residences that will each feature an integral two-car garage.   

In other multifamily development news, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Fore Property Co. is planning the construction of a five-story, 240-unit apartment building next to the Dormont Junction Light Rail Transit station on West Liberty Avenue. The Port Authority has recently entered a one-year exclusive negotiation period with the developer. If approved, the $39.8 million project known as “The Junction” would take about a year to complete.

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons



Allegheny Center Apartment Community in Pittsburgh’s North Shore Up for Sale

31 Oct 2013, 2:01 pm







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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

The 800-unit apartment community at Allegheny Center in Pittsburgh’s North Shore neighborhood has been listed for sale. According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, the local office of CBRE is marketing the Pittsburgh Apartments property owned by Allegheny Center Associates.     

The complex consists of four high-rise buildings that offer residents amazing views of the city’s skyline, as well as a variety of amenities, including laundry facilities, roof-top sun decks, exercise equipment and secured parking. Monthly rents start from $635 for a studio, $900 for a one-bedroom unit and $1,125 for a two-bedroom apartment.   

Besides its residential component, Allegheny Center also features three office buildings known as the Allegheny Center Office Concourse, One Allegheny Square and Two Allegheny Center.

The campus is located within easy walking distance from Downtown Pittsburgh, PNC Park, Heinz Field, the Carnegie Science Center, The Andy Warhol Museum and the new Northside Branch of the Carnegie Library.  

In other news, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that PMC Property Group is moving ahead with its plans to convert the historic 23-story Clark Building on Liberty Avenue into apartments.

The Philadelphia-based developer has recently obtained approval from the city planning commission to redevelop floors 12 to 23 into 144 rental units and is now seeking permission to turn the structure’s five to 11 floors into another 84 apartments. PMC intends to repurpose the property’s lower floors for retail and office use.  

The company acquired the 85-year-old building in March at an online auction for approximately $7 million and expects to complete construction by next summer.

PMC’s other projects in the city include the conversion of James Reed Building on Sixth Avenue into a 249-room Hotel Monaco, the redevelopment of the upper half of the Regional Enterprise Tower into apartments, and turning the former Pittsburgh Schenley High School into 178 luxury one- and two-bedroom rentals. The developer has also repurposed the Verizon building on Stanwix Street into 158 apartments and a charter school.   

Photo credits: www.alleghenycenter.com







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